This weekend in L.A., helping to launch the Plastic Pollution Coalition and joining in 350.org events, was amazing. I have so much to share with you! But first, something that is long overdue: my monthly plastic tally for the month ending 10/15/09. The total plastic is down. Way down. Although there are a few missing items which I will share at the end of the tally.
This month, it’s all new plastic waste:
- Plastic Packing tape. From delivery of stainless steel ice cube trays. I have written to Ramin at NoPlastic.ca and shared with him links to recycled paper tape he could switch to. He has agreed to check it out. Other than the tape, there was no other plastic packaging in the box.
- 1 plastic tear strip from a Jiffy padded envelope. This was from delivery of the Tapped DVD screener, which I need to remember to return to the Mill Valley Film Festival! I’ll reuse the same envelope. Jiffy padded mailers are made from Kraft paper with inner paper fiber cushioning. I noticed on the company’s site they also offer a Yesterday’s News version in which the inner cushioning is made from recycled newspaper. Could be an even better choice.
- Plastic scoop from powdered laundry detergent. We ran out of Ecover (which comes with a cardboard scoop) and I ran out of time to make more soap nuts soak, so Michael picked up a box of some other laundry powder (I’m not sure if it was Whole Foods brand or something else) which of course came with a plastic scoop. Unfortunately, Ecover is kind of hard to find around here, and we need to make special trips (on our bikes, of course!) to get more. We use it in a pinch when I don’t have time to prepare the soap nuts, which don’t work by themselves in cold water. Read more about our plastic-free laundry solutions here.
- 1 plastic seal from around a carton of Ben & Jerry’s coffee Heath bar crunch. I was still having the same cravings at the beginning of October and couldn’t resist. The last several weeks have actually been ice-cream free. I’ve found other waste-free ways to satisfy my sweet tooth. Like making chocolate/coconut balls from bulk bin ingredients. Maybe I’ll share the recipe at some point.
- Plastic clothing tag hanger. I actually have no recollection of what I bought. Oh, wait! Maybe it came from the Synergy organic cotton hoodie I got at the Outside Lands music festival. Yes, that must be it.
- 4 plastic envelope windows. 2 notices from AT&T, 1 from the IRS (nothing serious!) and 1 notice from Chase VISA. None were routine statements, as I’ve switched all my accounts to online billing/statements.
- 1 plastic bag of World’s Best Cat Litter. The one hold out. Read more below.
- 1 prescription bottle & cap. These cannot be refilled in the state of California, although you can take the #5 bottles to Whole Foods for recycling in Preserve’s Gimme5 program or mail them directly to Preserve. I have not found any other solution to medical prescription plastic.
- 3 plastic Straus milk caps. While I had been buying Clover Organic milk in paperboard cartons because Oakland allows us to put them in our city’s green compost bin, I always felt a little awkward about it. Straus, I believe, is a more responsible company, their glass bottles are returnable to be refilled, and the bottles contain little plastic which is in contact with the actual milk. Paperboard cartons, on the other hand are lined inside and out with polyethylene (plastic, not wax) and even though they are allowed to be composted, I’m not crazy about the idea of plastic-encased food. So I’ve switched back to Straus and will be including these caps in my tally. Read about my visit to Straus Creamery below.
- Plastic tag and twistie from a bunch of parsley. Honestly, I didn’t even notice the plastic tag when I bought the parsley. I think I was in a rush as the store was about the close, and I needed the parsley for a quinoa salad I was making (which was awesome [and whose recipe I found here.])
Plastic waste not included in the tally:
I’ve decided that it does no good to carry home unrequested plastic straws and other containers that are brought to me and quietly add them to my tally. The wait staff and owners of restaurants need to hear my message, and asking them to take these things back sends a clearer message than giving them my plastic speech while at the same time accepting the plastic. So I’ve decided that when I receive unwanted plastic in restaurants, I’m simply not going to accept it, and I’m going to explain why. Of course they’ll just throw it away. That’s not the point. The point is to get the message across for next time. So in addition to sending the items back, I will also link to the source of the plastic in hopes that if any of you patronize these establishments, you’ll help me reinforce the message.
So, here are the items I refused to accept, but for which I take responsibility nevertheless:
- 2 thin plastic bar straws from Coast Beach Cafe & Bar in Santa Monica. And guess what. No, I didn’t have an alcoholic beverage. In fact, I didn’t drink during my trip at all! The straws were inserted into my seltzer & pineapple juice, which I found to be almost as delicious as a mai tai. If I squinted.
- 2 plastic condiment containers from Jerry’s Deli. These contained shredded cheese and chopped onions for my cup of chili. After sending the plastic away, the waiter returned with two stainless steel containers of the same size. I don’t understand why he didn’t use these to begin with! Fortunately, everyone at the table had just returned from the Tapped screening and were wearing “Plastic Is Washed Up” T-shirts, so the message was loud and clear.
Happily, I remembered to specify “No plastic straw. No plastic anything!” at all the other places I ate this weekend. And of course, I carried my reusable utensils, glass straw, and LunchBots container to be sure.