Archive for November, 2007

November 16, 2007

The Vodka Variations

On November 4, I wrote that I had finished up my last bottle of Act fluoride rinse and had decided not to replace it. Several dentists told me they didn’t think I needed it. However, I wasn’t just using the rinse for the fluoride; it had also served as my mouthwash for the last couple of years, leaving my breath minty fresh. Without it, I needed to find a plastic-free alternative, and since there are apparently no mouthwashes sold plastic-free these days, I decided to make my own.

I found the following recipe on herbsforhealth.com and tried it:

Spicy Sweet Mouthwash

This mouthwash requires a couple of weeks for the spices to steep in the alcohol.

1 cup vodka1 tablespoon whole cloves1 tablespoon cinnamon chips (I used ground cinnamon)1 teaspoon fennel seed (ommited because I didn’t have)1 teaspoon anise seed1 teaspoon licorice root (also ommitted — didn’t have)

I also added 1/16 tsp of stevia powder for sweetness.

Place… Read the rest

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November 14, 2007

Obsessing over cutting boards

In a comment a few days ago, Mazzajo wondered, “Perhaps I’m going OTT about this? If I intend to use a (new) item responsibly, then does it matter what the company does?? What do you think?” We can get a bit over the top sometimes in our quest to be as ecologically sensitive as possible. For example, we might drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out the “greenest” cutting board to buy to replace the skanky plastic mess of a cutting board we’re ready to relinquish. On the other hand, research can be fun. Maybe I obsessed a little too much over this decision or maybe obsessing is just part of what makes me me. In any case, here are the thoughts that led to this week’s cutting board decision:

Choice 1: A brand new Epicurean Cutting Surface like the professionals use. Pros: According to the company, “Epicurean Cutting Surfaces® are made with eco select paper from trees harvested under guidelines of the … Read the rest

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November 14, 2007

Target, Multi-Pure, my Cupboards, and the Perils of PVC

By now, many of you have heard that after a national campaign by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), Target has agreed to systematically reduce its use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic (aka vinyl) in products and packaging it carries in its stores.  Blogger LifeLessPlastic wrote a letter to Target to show her support for this action, and I have done the same. It’s always a good idea to let companies know when we appreciate the things they do. Here’s a link to Target’s online contact form if you’d like to send your own message.

Coincidentally, I had my own little PVC panic this past week when I discovered that the tubing used in my new Multi-Pure counter top water filter system, which I bought in place of the Brita we had been using, is made from virgin PVC.

As I wrote on October 29, I was already somewhat disenchanted with Multi-Pure because of the volume of plastic bubble wrap in which the unit and filter … Read the rest

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November 13, 2007

San Francisco Green Festival, the aftermath

The San Francisco Green Festival was somewhat of a sanctuary after my dismal visit to the bay on Friday. It was huge, HUGE! I went intending to browse and gather information. I ended up with a backpack and tote bag full of stuff but almost zero plastic. (I’ll tell you about the one bit of plastic I’ll be sending back at the end of this post.)

Anyway, after walking a couple of miles to the festival from the wharf, I was starving and headed directly for the food court, where I was happy to see that all the offerings were organic, the tableware was compostable, and the water was piped into a water station rather than served in plastic bottles. I had a tasty veggie wrap and salad from Back to Earth Organic Caterers and filled up my own Klean Kanteen at the water station. Instead of taking their disposable napkins and compostable cutlery, I used my own cloth napkin and To-Go-Ware utensils.

I was also heartened to see many waste stations at convenient intervals… Read the rest

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November 12, 2007

San Francisco Bay oil spill

By now, everyone has heard about the terrible oil spill in the San Francisco Bay last week. Friday, I stopped at the wharf on my way to the Green Festival, to see for myself. The smell was terrible. Like walking into a chemical factory, except it was outside! Oil floated on top of the water instead of ducks. And the boat that hit the Bay Bridge was still anchored out there like a bad dog tied to a stake. Here are a few of the photos I took on Friday:

And here’s a little irony:

Those who would like to help with the cleanup can sign up at SF Baykeeper. Just one more reason that we need to discontinue our dependence on oil, including oil used to make plastics. … Read the rest

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November 11, 2007

Week 21 Results: 13.8 oz of plastic

What a week it was. A terrible oil spill. A Green Festival. I’ll write about both in the next post. For now, here’s the weekly plastic tally:

Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

6 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).

1 outer wrapper from a box of Refresh Endura eye drops.

1 cap from a 21-oz bottle of Win High Performance Sport detergent. See below.

1 piece of clear packing tape.

1 plastic wrapper from a Trader Joe’s Chile Lime chicken burger. This is my very last frozen food that was stashed in the refrigerator at work. No more emergency frozen food for me. I’ve got to be really diligent about bringing food for lunch now.

1 skanky old plastic cutting board (#4 plastic). Even though it’s #4 plastic, I don’t think anyone will recycle it, so it goes into plastic purgatory. I’ve got a replacement cutting board, which I’m planning to … Read the rest

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November 9, 2007

Misc: a Challenge, a Festival, & a whole bunch of Blogs

I’m feeling kind of brain dead tonight, so this post will just be a list of cool things to check out. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Green L.A. Girl, it’s good enough for Fake Plastic Fish!)

1) The Great Plastic Challenge:

[11/28/2010 Update: The Great Plastic Challenge Site has been removed.]

2) San Francisco Green Festival:

All weekend long in San Francisco. I’ll be going today (Friday) and will report on any interesting alternatives to plastic that I find.

Show HoursFriday – 2pm – 8pmSaturday – 10am – 8pmSunday – 11am – 6pm

Venue Name and Address
San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St (at Brannan St)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Giftcenter Pavillion Theater
888 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

3) Best Green Blogs:

A listing of hundreds of blogs related to environmental issues. Can be overwhelming or inspiring. You be the judge.

That’s it for now. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead. Good… Read the rest

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November 8, 2007

It’s plastic! Evert Fresh is made out of plastic!

Read 12/20/2007 update to this post here.

Sorry to go all Charlton Heston on you. It’s just that, based on several blog posts I’ve read, a lot of people seem to think that Evert Fresh green produce bags are plastic-free, and they are absolutely not. After calling the company several times a week for over a month to try to reach the owner, Lynn Everts, I finally received the information I needed today from his assistant, Tyra. She told me that the bags are indeed made from low density polyethylene (the same type of plastic in disposable grocery bags) combined with a special clay called oya which helps to keep produce fresher longer.

I have no doubt that these bags work. But I find it ironic that we would choose to purchase an ultimately disposable plastic bag (these bags can be reused up to 8 times) made from a material that lasts forever in the environment in order to preserve something that is completely biodegradable. Personally, I’d… Read the rest

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November 7, 2007

Tales of an on-again off-again activist

Last month, in my Green Sangha meeting, we were discussing how hard it can be to have compassion for people who just don’t seem to care about the planet and how easy it can be to feel self-righteous. I piped up and said that I don’t really understand how people change, how they go from not noticing or caring about waste and environmental degradation to waking up and realizing what effect their actions have. I don’t understand because up until June of this year, I myself was one of those people who bought and threw away hundreds of plastic water bottles, chose plastic bags over paper (and doubled them on purpose), and stocked up on frozen foods in their cute little plastic containers. And then something happened, I had a realization, and suddenly I couldn’t go back.

The thing is, I’m not really sure just what that something was. I’ve tried to remember my first “aha!” moment, what it felt like, where I was.… Read the rest

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November 6, 2007

Recycling Part 4: a visit to California Waste Solutions

Friday morning, I took another field trip, this time to California Waste Solutions, the company that picks up the recycling in my section of Oakland. Justin Johnson, CWS Commercial Accounts Manager, was my tour guide.

If you’ll recall, during my trip to the Davis Street Transfer Station, the Waste Management sorting machines were inoperable as a result of being jammed up by plastic sheeting and hoses. The CWS machines, on the other hand, were moving along just fine. Here’s a little video of one of the machines in operation:

Unlike Waste Management, which makes money not only from its recycling operation but also from its huge landfill, CWS’s business is 100% recycling. Therefore, it has more of a stake in recovering as much material from the waste stream as possible. Materials are sorted multiple times, taking them from this:

through the sorting process:

to the final baled materials ready for shipment:

Justin Johnson is proud… Read the rest

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