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November 10, 2008

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!)
 



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5 comments
Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Cheap Like Me. I have written about that toilet paper, too. It's great. We order it by the case through Amazon.com, and indeed it does come in a cardboard box without additional plastic inside. However, since Leah is in Canada, I wonder if she has access to the same toilet paper. I have heard that other Canadians have had trouble getting it. (This is why I'm so psyched about including voices from all over the world.)

Cheap Like Me
Cheap Like Me

Very inspiring! Re: plastic-free toilet paper, I buy Seventh Generation 1-ply individual rolls, which have no plastic. They are wrapped in a paper wrapper. It is a lot of extra paper (each roll), but they are not even shipped in plastic. (I wrote about them on my blog, and a commenter said, "Yeah, but they probably are within a plastic bag in a box, so who cares." I wrote to Seventh Generation, and they confirmed that the rolls are just stacked in a box when they are shipped.) If that little teeny bit helps ...

katecontinued
katecontinued

Beth, this is an exceptional way to keep the excitement alive. I look forward to these voices.

Maya
Maya

Thank you for doing this Beth--I am excited to have so many inspirational and encouraging bloggers to follow and to boost up my own efforts.

Mindful Momma
Mindful Momma

Great post! Thanks for being our plastic-free crusader!

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