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December 19, 2008

Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 3

 

Here is the next segment in a series of posts on bloggers joining the plastic-free movement. These folks have taken the challenge to reduce plastic in their lives and blog about their efforts. The first two posts can be found here:

Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 1
Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 2

Plastic-Free Bloggers
(blogs primarily dealing with plastic)

PlasticLess NYC. Juli Borst is a classical singer and founding member of the Take Back The Filter campaign, and now she’s begun an awesome new blog. Since starting PlasticLess NYC in the middle of November, she’s already written 23 posts, tallying her plastic waste and covering a wide range of topics. I’m thinking maybe I can retire soon.

Juli first started following environmental blogs after joining The Compact in late 2006. Giving up buying new things led to giving up buying a lot of plastic, and blogs like EnviroWoman and Fake Plastic Fish, and articles like Plastic Ocean inspired her to pursue the plastic-free life further.

As is apparent from the title of her blog, she lives in New York City, which has started requiring stores to recycle plastic shopping bags and is currently considering a 6-cent fee on them. This is an issue she follows on the blog. She also wants to explore why NYC recycles what it does, the history of plastic recycling in the city, and where all that plastic goes.

Low Plastic. Scott Wells heard me wondering one night on Twitter about why there were so few men in the plastic-free posse, and he answered the call! He is a Unitarian Universalist minister in the Dupont Circle area of Washington D.C.

For him, Scott’s plastic reduction is, like reducing his overall consumption, a “matter of religious principle.” He says, “Controlling plastic use not only saves resources, but it is a shorthand way to save other resources besides.” He would have tried reducing his oil consumption, but like me, he doesn’t own a car. (Yay Scott!)

According to Scott, Dupont Circle is “the land of bottled water.” He hopes the economic downturn will provide an opening for tap water — “particularly if Sigg bottles can make it a bit more chic, like durable bags are becoming” — and if there was more confidence in D.C. water quality.

Glints of Green. Chris Jorel, aka Eco-Chris, stumbled across Fake Plastic Fish while looking up something else and got sucked in. After reading many Fake Plastic Fish posts, she decided it was time to “close my mouth and make a few changes.”

Regarding plastic in Atlanta, GA, Chris says, “While there is a ‘green’ mentality in the area I live, it is more about recycling and not so much about reducing yet. There is an organization that is working with area resturants to get them to get rid of styrofoam and plastic takeout boxes.”

Chris is in the very beginning stages of looking at her plastic consumption and realizing how ubiquitous plastic is. I’m sure she’d appreciate any advice that you veterans can supply!

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

A Passion For Green Business. Alline Anderson is the proprietor of the Milkweed Mercantile, an Eco Inn, Organic Cafe, Green General Store and Sustainability Seminar Program at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, MO. She says she first became aware of plastic harming animals while in high school in the 70′s when she and her friends became vigilant about cutting 6-pack rings. She’s come a long way since then, composting all food scraps, buying in bulk, recycling paper and aluminum and steel, and is ready for more “concerted effort” in the plastic department.

Alline answered my questions in great detail, including photos, on her blog. I’ve included brief snippets of her answers below.

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!. The four eco-women posting to this blog live in different parts of the country and are all striving to go plastic-free. Melissa, aka Enviro-Girl, answered my questions. She also wrote a great post on the site listing the many steps she has taken to give up plastic.

Melissa resides in rural Wisconsin. Reading about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and seeing all the plastic trash—bags, bottles, & wrappers littering roads, ditches, and parks was what motivated her to give up plastic. She says the biggest issue in her area is finding plastic-free products and packaging. “I’ve abused my position as PTA president to buy Igloo coolers to fill with water for events to replace bottled water and I’m always encouraging people to bring their own bags rather than take a store bag, but there is no official ban anywhere in my state yet.”

As I usual, I asked these bloggers a series of questions about the challenges of going plastic-free. Here’s what they said:

EASIEST CHANGES TO MAKE
(Besides the obvious grocery bags and reusable bottles)

Juli: Easiest: taking cloth bags for groceries, going bagless for large produce items, slipping small purchases into my work bag, avoiding new purchases, carrying a reusable coffee mug and metal water bottle.

Scott: Giving up small “speculative” electronics has been the easiest, including deciding not to buy a new computer. I’m also a Linux advocate, in part, because it helps me make best use of what I already own.

Eco-Chris: Skipping plastic utensils at work in favor of bamboo ones.

Alline: Some things have been absolutely easy-peasy no-brainers: grocery bags, coffee cups, reusable flatware and glass storage containers at home.

Melissa: Buying products that use less packaging and buying glass bottled milk.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Juli: My biggest stumbling block has been produce bags for bulk items (dry beans, rice, oatmeal etc.) and loose produce (green beans, floppy lettuce…). I know how to sew, so the idea was to make them from fabric on hand instead of buying them new while I was officially part of The Compact– it never happened. Since then, I’ve just been dragging my feet and saying “d’oh!” every time I got to the supermarket and forgot to bring plastic bags from last time. Silly, right? There is a purchase from EcoBags in my future!

Scott: That’s easy: packaged tofu and yogurt. And cheap meals out. More beans, fruit and planning for lunch out with my husband and office mates, who have been supportive.

Eco-Chris: Finding support among my peers and just finding people that are on the same page. I went to a chili cookoff this summer and was horrified by the jillions of plastic tasting cups that were being passed out with every sample with no recycling means at all. I wrote the State Park that hosted it on their grounds and they responded with a generic “we care about the environment and offer recycling facilities for cans and bottles inside our entertainment facilities.” I asked for a second contact and received no response.

Alline: Plastic is everywhere! EVERYWHERE! It’s like body snatchers. Or Republicans. Or SUVs. Or ragweed pollen in the fall. Even when I buy in bulk there is plastic. A 10-lb box of organic raisins or walnuts? Inside the cardboard box is a plastic bag. Sigh.

Melissa: Buying toys for my kids that aren’t made of plastic. Even many metal or wood toys are augmented with plastic.

INSPIRATION FROM THE PLASTIC-FREE BLOGGERS

Juli: It is a lot easier than you think! A few simple changes will make your life easier, more aesthetically pleasing (glass containers look SO much nicer than plastic…), healthier (plastic avoidance means less processed food and no more worrying about leaching chemicals), and will make you feel good.

Scott: Be plain about your intentions and ask friends and family for suggestions to reduce plastic use, rather than making a stand . . . and standing alone. You’re more likely to convince others of plastic reduction — which helps more — and is good for overcoming the “sucker feeling” that your choices are nothing more than an eccentricity.

Eco-Chris: If everyone makes some small changes, it will make a significant impact.

Alline: Start small. Be kind, to yourself and others. And realize that you are not alone in your quest!

Melissa: We have one planet and we’re smothering it with plastic—literally choking the life out of it. Bear this in mind next time you buy ANYTHING.

Please check out these blogs and lend support. The message is spreading!
 



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6 comments
CindyW
CindyW

Thanks for bringing the less-plastic heroes together. Just have one comment. Recycling seems to be a double-edged sword (or something like it). I am thankful for the fact that many of the post consumer items can find a second life. On the other hand it makes me a little more reckless knowing that items can find a second life. I suspect that I am not alone. Anyhow ever since I read about how the economic downturn impacted the recycling businesses in a negative way, I am much more aware of my purchasing habits. Perhaps it is better to assume that nothing will get recycled when we buy new items, then we may pay more attention to packaging and reusability.

John Costigane
John Costigane

Hi Beth,It is great to see others follow your fine example. The more, who take up the plastic-free challenge, the merrier.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Erin, thanks for letting me know. There are more in the pipeline!Susan, that is my plan for world domination. Or at least the end of the plasticized world as we know it. Write!:-)Beth

SusanB
SusanB

Beth, thank you for running this series. You're going to inspire me to start a blog one of these days.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Erin aka Conscious Shopper

Just wanted to let you know that the "Voices of the Plastic-free Blogosphere" are some of my favorite posts on your blog. It's fun to check out other people's blogs and ideas for reducing plastic use.

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