Think we can't live without plastic? Think again. In 2007 I committed to stop buying any new plastic & I've almost succeeded! Won't you join me? Let's see what plastic-free looks like today… for the health of our bodies, our oceans, our planet. ~Beth Terry
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.
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
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 cartridge were wrapped. But it wasn’t until the unit was installed and working that I actually read the fine print and discovered the more serious problem of PVC used in the product itself.
When I called Multi-Pure to address this issue, I was told that the tubing had been tested by NSF and found not to leach anything harmful into the water. However, the rep was unable to confirm whether phthalates such as DEHP, the chemicals that are the biggest worry, were included in the list of possible contaminants for which to be tested. But regardless of whether or not this particular tubing is leaching anything harmful… Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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
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: