Monthly Archives: November 2008

What is Local? Expanding the Definition

The topic of this month’s APLS Carnival is “buying local,” which seems to be an important factor in the sustainability movement. In the SF Bay Area, we have year-round farmer’s markets where local producers bring us their fresh crops all year. So for someone attempting to live plastic-free, it’s not hard to add “buying local” to the mix.

Except when it is hard.

Several months ago, I asked your opinion about which was better environmentally — plastic-wrapped local cheese or waxed plastic-free cheese from Ireland. And surprisingly, most of you voted for the Irish cheese, saying that regardless of plastic, it’s probably just better.

So it seems that some folks make exceptions to the local rule when it comes to foods from “expert” regions of the world. But I have a few more exceptions and redefinitions to add to the mix. I get that buying local is better for the environment because it reduces fuel miles and because foods grown locally do not need as much in the way of chemicals and energy to keep them fresh. But there’s another reason: community. And sometimes community is not found within a 100-mile radius of where you live.

***

One of my new favorite Etsy sellers is Cat Domiano, aka The Green Cat, who is a blogger friend and one of the founding members of the Take Back The Filter campaign. One of my first interactions with her was when she made some cute mice for my new kittens last year. A quilter, she recently decided to use up scraps of fabric she’s been storing by making coasters and napkins and cat toys and selling them them through Etsy.


I had no qualms about ordering cloth napkins from Cat (who lives in New York), even though I could have bought some cloth napkins here in Oakland, for the following reasons:

1) Cat is my friend.
2) I knew that Cat wouldn’t send me any plastic packaging (including plastic tape!). She’s a Fake Plastic Fish reader and trying to reduce her own plastic waste.
3) Supporting Cat is supporting the environment because she’s likely to spend her money in ways that are environmentally-friendly. Right Cat?
4) Supporting Etsy sellers is a way to make sure that the cratspeople creating the products we purchase get a fair price for their creations because they set the prices themselves!
5) Supporting each other’s work creates community — even if we live many, many miles apart. It’s a different kind of local, isn’t it?

Oh, and when I told Cat I was going to post about her napkins (which are awesome) on Fake Plastic Fish, she wanted me to let you know that she’ll do some kind of discount for Fake Plastic Fish readers, so if you place an order, let her know you read about her shop here.

***

Sometimes local really is local. This is Dan from The Green Bean Cafe at Forest and Claremont, just a few blocks from my house and right on my way to BART each day.


At the Green Bean, I can fill up my travel mug with fair trade organic coffee and have a sandwich made and placed into my reusable container. (Yes, the container is plastic. I haven’t found a better non-disposable alternative yet, but I’m working on it.) Better than supporting Starbucks, certainly. But more important to me, I’ve gotten to know Dan and his business partner Brett over the years, and I have a great time every time I visit the cafe.

Dan is one of the funniest guys in town. He and I don’t necessarily agree politically (as I discovered on election day) but we agree in other basic, human ways. In fact, he and Brett have set up a container at the shop for local folks to drop off used Brita filter cartridges instead of mailing them to us. And he gets really excited when people bring in their filters.


Besides the coffee, the food itself might not all be organic or local, but the spirit of the place creates community in a world where people too often find themselves separate from each other. These guys know pretty much everyone in the neighborhood, which is rare and precious in our disjointed world.

***

But sometimes, there are real conflicts between buying locally or buying from a large, impersonal corporation. A while back, there was a discussion on Burbanmom’s blog comparing the soap she got from a local goat farmer to Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps. And I found myself with the same quandary.

I had been buying soap from a local woman at the Ashby flea market. I was supporting her simply because she was local. I didn’t know her personally and I never asked about the ingredients she used in her soaps — fair trade? organic? I do believe they were free of synthetics.

But after reading the discussion on Burbanmom, I actually switched to the Dr. Bronner’s soap bars. They are 100% organic. 100% fair trade. The wrappers and containers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Here is a company trying in every way possible to be sustainable. They are not local to me, and I don’t have a personal relationship with them. But maybe those things don’t matter.

Or maybe Dr. Bronner’s creates a different kind of community — a meeting of like minds coming together at the organic foods shop to refill their peppermint soap bottles. This company has been around so long and created such good will in the green and “hippie” community that they maybe deserve to be honorary “locals” wherever you happen to find their products.

***

So I guess all things being equal, I’d opt for a local product over a non-local one. But I don’t stress about that one criterion. I do the best I can, and then let many other factors help determine my buying choices.
 

Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 2


Two weeks ago, I spotlighted eight bloggers who have taken the challenge to reduce plastic in their lives and have been blogging about it. Here are the next eight voices helping to spread the word through the blogosphere. Thanks to blogger Greeen Sheeep, the newest Posse member, for the above image. Enjoy.

Plastic-Free Bloggers
(blogs primarily dealing with plastic)

Bring Your Own. Anna Cummins is a plastic-free warrior. Not only has she visited the North Pacific Gyre on the oceanographic research vessel Alguita with her fiance Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Captain Charles Moore’s team, she also travels the country speaking out about the issue of plastics in the marine environment and is planning a bike tour from Vancouver to Mexico to spread the word. She sent me the following image which illustrates the central point of this blog: our fish are filling up with plastic. If we don’t change our ways, fake plastic ones may be all we have left!


Anna started her blog and campaign, Bring Your Own, three years ago, with an opening post that reads, “The idea for this BYO campaign arose as much from my coffee habit as my growing disgust with the buildup of unnecessary plastic crap in the world. I love a good latte, but the java experience was becoming more unpleasant as I’d watch troops of coffee drinkers getting their daily fix in throwaway cups (with plastic lids mind you) yet drinking them right there!”

One of Anna’s projects is collecting old T-shirts and turning them into cloth grocery bags. With a grant she received from Patagonia, she plans to create and distribute 400 bags to anyone who will pledge to using them at least 10 times. Her blog post about the non-recyclability of Brita filters over a year ago encouraged me to pursue the Brita take-back campaign. It was also what introduced me to Anna in the first place.

Plastic-Free Posse
(Blogs that cover a range of subjects. I’ve linked to their plastic-labeled posts here.)

Noitalever’s LiveJournal. Danielle hails from Oregon and is currently a student at the University of Idaho. Her attempt to go plastic-free began in May when a friend linked to the article “Plastic Ocean” on her blog. That article changed her whole perception of plastic. Since then, she’s made an impressive number of plastic-free changes, including switching back to glasses from contacts. As someone who’s worn glasses since 4th grade and could never get the hang of contacts, I welcome her to the four-eyed fold! (Read her post to find out why glasses are the pro-environment choice.)

Mindful Momma. Micaela is one of the founding members of the Green Mom’s Carnival. Her big ah-ha moment about plastics was when she realized she’d gotton so caught up in the Costco mentality that she was buying bottled water by the case. She vowed to quit and bought reusable bottles for her family instead. Now she realizes they were BPA-laden polycarbonate bottles, but it was a start.

Arduous Blog. Ruchi, aka Arduous, started her blog to chronicle her year of buying nothing new. Then, she lived in L.A. where, in addition to the buy-nothing challenge, she jumped into one “arduous” challenge after another. Her dad gave her the nickname, and it fits.

Nowadays, she’s a student in London, still working to care for the environment and buy as few new things as possible. She first became aware of the plastics issue after reading Elizabeth Royte’s Garbageland and realizing that plastic “recycling” is just a way to delay its inevitable trip to the landfill. Ruchi answered the questions below in much more detail on her blog.

ciboulette. Leah is a teacher and writer in British Columbia who was first inspired to remove plastic from her life when she stumbled upon Fake Plastic Fish, about one year ago, during NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month.) She felt depressed by reports of masses of plastic filling up the ocean and found that most of the Fake Plastic Fish solutions sounded realistic for her as well. That was when she realized she might be able to make a small difference. She began blogging about her goal of reducing plastic this past September.

Greenhab: The Browns Go Green. Kellie Brown is going green in Denver. She started looking at plastic differently a year or so ago. The movie Mardi Gras: Made in China made her stomach turn when she saw the conditions under which most plastic tchotchkes are made. Then, she learned about the issue of BPA leaching from plastic, the oil it takes to make plastic, and the Pacific Garbage Patch and how it affects marine life. She says, “How can I look at plastic and not cringe?” Be sure and read her post, “Lessons in Plastic Learned From a Bear.”

Jorth. Leisl in Melbourne, Australia, describes herself as a “stay at home fashionista-craftster-writer-chef-gardener-prampusher extraordinaire.” She’s always been a greenie, avoiding things like plastic bags, but it wasn’t until early last year that she began to really analyze her lifestyle and it’s effect on the planet in depth. Reading about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was what finally pushed her to say, “Enough is enough! It’s no good waiting around for others to do things – you have to be, as Gandhi said, the change you want to see.”

Greeen Sheeep. Rebecca from Wisconsin, who also blogs as Envirorambo at The Green Phone Booth, calls herself “just another lost sheep wandering this planet, trying to find my way back to a more eco-friendly, simple, sustainable way of life.” She said that her plastic awareness was the culmination of several things over the past year: moving to a new home and realizing just how much crap they had; trying unsuccessfully to conceive and in doing infertility research stumbling upon EWG’s Skin Deep Database; and discovering blogs like Fake Plastic Fish. She is gradually becoming more aware of the impact has and realizing she has a choice.

As I did last week, I asked these bloggers a series of questions about the challenges of going plastic-free. Here’s what they told me:

EASIEST CHANGES TO MAKE

Anna: Eliminating single use disposables from my life – coffee cups, bags, and water bottles, it’s habit now to refuse these – I always Bring My Own!

Danielle: The easiest change has been simply altering my shopping habits – I buy in bulk and bring my own bags for everything, including sugar. Two other easy changes were carrying my own coffee cup and Klean Kanteen.

Micaela: Quitting bottled water was very easy once I had a good reusable bottle in hand. Packing waste-free lunches and snacks was an easy change too. It’s often just a matter of changing your habits.

Ruchi: I ended up using a lot less plastic in my year of non-consumerism, because as lot of plastic waste is in packaging, and if you’re not buying, you avoid the packaging thang too.

Leah: Switching from liquid hand and body soap to their solid equivalents. These can almost always be found packed in paper or nothing at all!

Kellie: The easiest thing for us was to just stop buying stuff we really didn’t need; that in itself eliminated a lot of plastic waste. We also have been making small changes that add up – no more bottled water, recyclable tin foil instead of plastic wrap…we’re currently trying to break the ziplock bag habit.

Leisl: The three easiest things to change were plastic free bread, cheese and fresh fruit and vegetables. We live in inner-city Melbourne, and are blessed to have an amazing bakery that sells bread in paper (and don’t mind you bringing your own bag), a cheese shop that wraps the harder cheeses in paper and lets me put the softer cheeses into my own glass bowl, and a green grocer that sells loose/unpackaged produce which I pack into a cloth bag, all within walking distance. That’s the good thing about patronizing local, independent shops – they are happy to accommodate their customers, no matter how wacky you may appear at first!

Greeen Sheeep: Making food from scratch. Avoiding prepackaged convenience meals has cut our weekly garbage load from seven bags to two. 3. The safety razor. Way more economical, comfortable, and so easy a 12 year old can do it.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Anna: We’re surrounded by plastic, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to avoid. Personal challenge: some of my fave treats generally come in plastic. Like cheese. Haven’t figured this one out yet. Any ideas for a cheese lover that isn’t about to start making brie on her own?

Danielle: I quickly discovered that our culture is constantly humming a “plastic is good” tune, and it’s been really hard to combat that. For example, most of the “grab and go” foods on my college campus are packaged in plastic and no one seems to think twice about it!

Micaela: I’ve had a hard time eliminating plastic bags and plastic wrap completely. I use them MUCH less frequently than I used to and I wash and reuse what I have but grabbing a bag is just so easy, it’s hard to resist.

Ruchi: Being a student, I don’t have much in the way of routine. So I’ll often find myself at school at 5pm not having eaten anything all day for whatever reason. So I end up buying a sandwich in plastic wrap.

Leah: The glaring absence of plastic-free yogurt, cheese and toilet paper.

Kellie: It’s easy to cut out the little things, but when it comes to, say, a grocery item that only comes packaged in plastic, well, I haven’t quite made the leap to thinking “Can I make this? Is there some other alternative?” Baby steps…

Leisl: Our biggest challenge so far has been milk. One shop locally does sell milk in glass bottles, but the delivery times are erratic, and it’s very easy to miss out. Oh, and deodorant. I’ve tried lots of alternatives, and whilst they work for my husband, none of done the job for me. It’s the eternal dilemma – will people take me seriously if I pong? [I recommended baking soda to her. Don't know if she's tried it yet!]

Greeen Sheeep: Besides getting the family on board? Packaging. The things we do still buy are inevitably packaged in plastic.

INSPIRATION FROM THE PLASTIC-FREE BLOGGERS

In their own words —

Anna: Our plastic crap is now entering the food chain! So check this out: a fish [pictured above] my fiancé caught aboard JUNK. After filleting it, he found 17 plastic fragments in its stomach. Plastic contamination is becoming a clear human health issue.

Danielle: Definitely start small – stopping using plastic bags and water bottles. If you try to start big, you won’t experience much success and you’ll get burnt out. If you can make little changes, you’ll have the energy to tackle continually larger issues.

Micaela: Next time you walk through the grocery store, think about every plastic item you pick up. Is there another alternative? Glass instead of plastic? Could I refill this jar next time to avoid purchasing a new one? Do I really need a plastic bag for every vegetable I buy? Once you get into that mentality you will find it is pretty easy to cut your plastic consumption way back!

Ruchi: Treat it like a game, or an adventure. One of the games I like to play is, can I get rid of my one-time use plastic this week? So I focus on a specific area, and then work on that. It also makes you creative in how you can re-use your plastic.

Leah: Start tiny. It’s encouraging to know that there are a lot of little changes that can be done with little effort and/or cost. My feeling is that even a little is better than nothing and that just being aware of everyday plastic consumption will help you reduce some of it.

Kellie: You know, when I look at someone like Beth I think “I am WAY out of my league here”. But we didn’t go from Brown to Green overnight. Take it in small steps and make small changes, but do look at everything that passes through your hands and ask “What’s the environmental impact of this? Can I do without it? What can I use or do instead?”

Leisl: It’s easier than you think! Start small, and just keep going – the key is coming up with alternative solutions, and then just making them your ‘normal’ process, like always carrying a cloth bag when shopping, or taking a reusable container rather than relying on a disposable one from the store. Change your habits to change the world!

Greeen Sheeep: I saw this quote left in the comments of a blog once that resonated with me, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”

Words of wisdom. Let’s hear more! I’m noticing a preponderance of plastic-free female voices. Besides Ian from last week, where are the rest of the guys? (Note: If you contacted me about joining the posse, and your blog has not been listed this week, don’t worry. This is an ongoing project!)
 

More sad plastic news. Plus Year 2, Week 21 Results: .05 oz of plastic waste.

The format of this post will be a little different from most of my weekly tallies because I want to emphasize three stories in the news this week which illustrate more of the problems with plastic and plastic recycling.

First: I learned from JessTrev of The Green Phone Booth (via Twitter) that one of the few plastics we had thought was fairly safe might not be so. Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have found chemicals leaching from polypropylene (#5 plastic), the type of plastic used for many, many food uses, including yogurt tubs and laptop lunch containers, which parents purchase as an alternative to disposable food containers for children. Preserve toothbrushes (the kind I use) are also made from recycled polypropylene.

Not enough is know at this time about the two chemicals found to leach from the plastic, quaternary ammonium biocides and oleamide, to determine whether or not the leaching poses health risks, but Rebecca Sutton, senior scientist with Environmental Working Group, says, “We simply don’t want these chemicals getting into our bodies.”

When asked which plastics are safe for food, I’ve always replied that #2, #4, and #5 are the safest as far as we know, but the fact that they haven’t really been studied as thoroughly as other plastics means that we don’t know for sure if they are actually safe. As it turns out, we’re now even less sure. My opinion? Why store food in plastic when we can use glass and other safer alternatives?

Second: Saturday afternoon, a massive fire broke out at a plastics manufacturing plant in Channelview, Texas. View video and news coverage of the fire here. According to an article on Click2Houston.com, the plant manufactured polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products. Ironically, according to the news story, city officials claim the smoke was non-toxic.

Really? Non-toxic PVC smoke? According to Greenpeace, smoldering PVC gives off hydrogen chloride, “a corrosive, highly toxic gas that can cause skin burns and severe long-term respiratory damage,” as well as dioxin, which has been found to cause cancer and reproductive disorders. How is it possible that the smoke from a burning PVC plant can be considered safe for any town?

Third: Tonight, FPF reader Christy B alerted me to a 60 Minutes story that aired today revealing a terrible reality of electronics and plastic “recycling” that will turn your stomach. You already saw the Sky News story about plastic recycling in China. This one is even worse. Watch it below or view it on the 60 Minutes site. This story illustrates why cutting our consumption and requiring manufacturers to produce less toxic, longer-lasting products is essential.


Watch CBS Videos Online
And now that you’ve had your fill of reasons to cut out plastic, here’s my tally for the week.

All new plastic waste:

    • 1 plastic envelope window. From Financial West Group, which does not yet offer electronic statements.

 

  • 1 plastic seal from a carton of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. This happened Tuesday night. I blame election anxiety. What a rush!

 

And that’s it. I actually did also receive a free T-shirt in a bubble mailer with plastic tape, but I returned it to the sender after sending an email explaining why. I also received one of those plastic pizza inserts, but I’m planning to take it back to the pizzeria and ask them to reuse it. It’s actually unnecessary. I usually remember to request no plastic thingie, and the pizza arrives just fine.

Obama’s f—ing lightbulbs

The highlights of Newsweek’s Special Election Project, released yesterday, include this unsettling tidbit:

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that's green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Obama is right, and he’s wrong.

He’s right that simply changing lightbulbs will not solve global warming. But he’s wrong to think that changing lightbulbs is irrelevant. Changing lightbulbs can help to change people’s minds. Changing lightbulbs is a gateway action that can lead to other kinds of changes: changing the way a person votes, for example. Individual actions help to create awareness, and it’s awareness that creates the climate for political change. Because WE are the government. And the government doesn’t change unless we do.

I’m a little disappointed that Obama’s vision wasn’t broader the day he made that comment, and I’m hoping it was simply the result of campaign exhaustion. But guess what. His new web site is up, and he’s got a form we can use to share our vision of how we’d like him to lead the country: http://change.gov/page/s/yourvision. I’ve already used the form to send yesterday’s letter.

Next week, I’ll publish more ideas from plastic-free bloggers who have joined the Posse and are hoping that their individual actions will make a difference. We don’t plan on giving up any time soon. In a comment yesterday, Clif wrote of the idealism that we share that keeps us going and gives us the hope that others will be inspired by our vision of a world bigger than our backyards. But some people will not be inspired until they actually change that first lightbulb or begin to carry a reusable grocery bag or water bottle. Clif writes, “Let’s be the first civilization to make the ideal real. Action on global warming by individuals at a personal level would be an encouraging start.”

Obama’s “collective” is made up of individuals, dreaming and hoping and acting one by one by one. Let’s write to him and remind him of that fact.
 

Thank you, Santa Sabina!

Back in May, I sent a letter to the Santa Sabina retreat center, where I have spent many beautiful silent weekends resting in stillness. My letter asked them to please find alternatives to the antibacterial soaps and synthetic air fresheners they had recently begun providing for the use of their guests.

A few weeks later, I received a beautiful card and note assuring me that the center had switched to more environmentally-friendly products. This past weekend, during another retreat, I was able to confirm first-hand that not only had they indeed made those specific changes, but were also working on ways to encourage their guests to be more aware of their environmental impact.

Entering the main doors, I encountered this cute little setup next to the water fountain. It’s actually not so hard to fill the bottle right from the fountain, but I guess they felt they’d make it as easy and obvious as possible.


Upstairs in the large linen closet, I found this:


And in the Dining Room was this composting system:


I don’t know why there is a plastic bag in the compost bin. I plan to send a follow-up thank you letter with a few more suggestions, for example that they might use compostable bags in the compost bin rather than plastic.

There were also signs about recycling cans and bottles as well as clearly labeled bins for the purpose. I’m pleased that Santa Sabina is taking its responsibility towards the earth seriously. How rarely do we get such immediate feedback to the letters that we send out?

Here are a few more photos I took this weekend, just because…


The hummingbirds were awesome in the rain. Check out my friend David’s amazing close-up photos. He has a real camera. Click on “Slideshow” and prepare to be dazzled.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvdgray/sets/72157608657096412/
 

Dear President-Elect Obama,

As I write to you this day after the most exciting election in my 43 years, I want to thank you. You have inspired not only the people of the United States but of the entire world. You weave a beautiful story of hope for people who have become tired and cynical and jaded by political rhetoric.

Here are some of my hopes.

I hope that while we’re talking of “restoring prosperity” and “putting our people back to work” we’re also working to change the fundamental basis on which prosperity is measured. Is the American Dream the pursuit of newer and bigger houses and cars and the latest gadgets? Higher consumption of the earth’s resources? Is that what healing the economy means?

Or can we change our language to encourage deeper American values? Voluntary simplicity? Sustainable living? Connections among people over material wealth? The world cannot afford for us to continue trashing the planet as we have been. And as someone with the great ability to use words to inspire hope and change, you are in a unique position to change the course of our imaginations and help us redefine how we measure prosperity.

We need jobs, of course. Let’s make them green and inclusive of all segments of society. Van Jones has offered a beautiful plan in his book, The Green Collar Economy. Let’s create an economy that measures not only dollars in the bank but also the satisfaction that one’s work is helping to sustain life on the planet.

We want to feel secure, of course. Let’s create the security of knowing that we are not creating a terrible mess today for our children to deal with tomorrow. To that end, I urge you to attend the U.N. Climate meetings in Poland this December and promise that the U.S. will lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping other developing nations to do the same.

We all want access to healthcare. Let’s also take care of the health of our planet, which ultimately affects the health of us all. Right now, there is an area in the North Pacific Ocean greater than the size of Texas that is filled with plastic. Marine researchers describe it as a “plastic soup.” And the plastic didn’t just come from vessels dumping their waste at sea. No, the plastic comes from you and me and everyone who has ever used and thrown away plastic products.

Plastic lasts forever. It mimics food for multitudes of marine animals who eat the plastic and feed it to their young. It migrates up the food chain into the fish that we ourselves eat, including toxic chemicals that accumulate on its surfaces. Plastic is a great invention and can also be a great threat to the healthcare and security of humans and animals on this planet.

Thousands and thousands of individuals are working to make changes in our own lives to protect the earth, to consume less, and to choose less toxic alternatives, like avoiding plastics, but we are not enough to solve these types of environmental problems. We need our government to hold companies responsible for the full life cycles of the products they produce, we need stricter regulations against toxic products, and we also need a national mindset that encourages consumers to cut back on disposable products and look to what is durable and energy-efficient and timeless.

Protecting the planet is about more than cutting emissions, although that seems to be the big focus of the moment. We also need to cut our consumption and change our priorities. As president, you can set policies in that direction. But we also need you to use your powerful skills of language to light up our minds and show us the value in simple, sustainable, compassionate living.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done so far and all you will do in the next four years. You’ve asked me to hope. Some of my hope is in your hands.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth G. Terry
Oakland, CA

Note: This post will be included in the Green Mom’s Blog Carnival hosted at Big Green Purse on December 7. The topic is “The Prevention Agenda.”

Year 2, Week 20 Results: 4.0 oz of plastic waste.

Oy! Too much plastic this week. You’d think that I wouldn’t have brought back plastic from a meditation retreat. And you would be wrong.

Here’s the tally:

Plastic items used this week but acquired before the plastic project began:

  • 1 expired Chase VISA card. Wondering if these cards will be biodegradable eventually. Like some gift cards these days. Or renewable without having to destroy the old card?

And the new plastic waste:

  • 1 big World’s Best Cat Litter bag. We went back to SwheatScoop this week, even though I don’t really like it, to save the plastic. And then Soots, who seemed to have grown out of the habit, pooped on the floor. *Sigh* I think little kitty likes the World’s Best Cat Litter better. I tried explaining to him about plastic, but he didn’t understand because he’s… you know… a cat. Also, the corn litter just smells better. Maybe we’ll try mixing the two kinds and see what happens.

    And yes, I said I’d try making my own newspaper litter like Allie does, but first things first. Let me get in the habit of making their food first!

  • Packing tape from two packages sent to me this week. I’m going to have to start spreading the word about paper packing tape.
  • 3 plastic envelope windows. From Chase VISA, Financial West Group, & Kaiser Permanente. All mailings I can’t avoid.
  • Bandaid from Red Cross blood donation. It should have been included in the tally a few weeks ago. I also end up with a long plasticky bandage wrapped around my arm, but instead of taking a new one each time, I bring back the old one and ask them to reuse it. And yes, they look at me like I’m nuts.
  • Plant identification stake. From squash plant. Not reusable because it’s printed on both sides. Next year, I’m going to grow veggies from seeds and avoid all plastic.
  • 1 Snyder’s pretzel bag. Thursday night, I got to my meditation retreat center too late for dinner and was starving. I grabbed a bag of pretzels from the snack table to tide me over until the next day.
  • 1 Hershey’s miniature chocolate bar wrapper. The second night of the meditation retreat being Halloween, our retreat leader Jon showed up in bunny ears and a cotton tail and passed out candy bars. How could I say no?

I just got back from phone banking at the Obama campaign. The first time I’ve ever done this in my life. Enjoying listening to George Lakoff on NPR as I write this. Looking forward to tomorrow’s results. Hoping my candidate wins and that the Propositions I care the most about win and fail in the ways I want. But mostly, being grateful that finally the suspense will be over and we can get on with the work ahead, regardless of the results.