A Day in the Life of a Plastic-Free Blogger

Ever wonder what it would be like to be Beth Terry for a day? Or any one of a number of other green bloggers? Well, now’s your opportunity to find out because the women of the Green Moms Carnival (of which you don’t have to be a mom to be a member) have all decided to write about one day in their lives. Could be fascinating. Could be as tedious as watching pants dry on a wooden drying rack. My contribution is a rundown of last Thursday, which I chose because Thursdays are typical work days, and I knew I’d have 8 hours at my accounting job wherein I would not have to detail every action.

Feeding Kitties

I wake up at 9am with Soots standing on my chest, staring at me expectantly. It’s funny. I wait as long as I can, until he starts batting my face and nibbling my chin, to get up. This is our daily ritual. Soots and Arya expect to be fed as soon as I get out of bed. Any deviation is a betrayal. Unfortunately, they find themselves betrayed almost every morning as I putter around, putting my tea kettle on or maybe checking to see if any earth shattering email came through during the night. Finally, it’s their turn. Lucky beasts. What other cats get homemade cat food every day?

homemade cat food

Feeding Myself

Breakfast this morning is sliced nectarines, baby carrots, prunes, ( all produce stored without plastic) and loose tea.

Beth's breakfast

Beth's breakfast

Scanning my email and popping a prune in my mouth, I have to laugh at the Fake Plastic Fish commenter who wrote, “…Who eats prunes?” Um… I do, actually. I’m sitting here eating them right now. They’re yummy. Nature’s candy and all that.

Bloggy Blogging

For the next couple of hours or so, I sit at my computer, alternately blogging, looking up interesting articles about plastic, emailing people, updating Facebook and Twitter, and petting the beasts. They are my reality check when I get too caught up in my head.

kitties in the window

Getting Dressed and Heading Out

Today is not a shower day. Some people save water by taking quick showers. I save water by showering every other day instead. And because I never make time for domestic chores like putting clothes away, I grab whatever happens to still be on the drying rack and throw it on.

wooden drying rack

Then, I empty the rest of my tea into my stainless steel mug and rush out the door.

The Commute

I commute by foot and by BART. The walk to the BART station takes about ten minutes at a leisurely pace. Five minutes if I haul ass. Today is not a hauling ass kind of day, even though it probably should be. Instead, it’s a sauntering along sipping my tea kind of day.

travel mug

As I mosey, I take note of plastic trash on the ground and pick some of it up.

plastic bag in the bushes

I’m going to miss my BART train, so I have time to pick up lunch before the next one.

BART train

I stop in to Market Hall Produce (which we lovingly refer to as MarkUp Hall because its prices suck)…

Market Hall Produce

and pick up a jar of locally-made Food Mill peanut butter in a glass jar. I like to keep lunch food at work so I always have something plastic-free to eat. I already have a jar of jam in the refrigerator. All I need is bread. Normally, I’d bring my cloth bag to the bakery counter for unwrapped bread. But today, I’m in a hurry and have forgotten my cloth bags. Fortunately, I can get bread in paper, which is the next best thing.

Food Mill peanut butter

artisan bread

I shove my purchases into my backpack, and hurry out.

Each day, I’m treated to a splendid view from the BART platform as well as some not-so-splendid ones. Another Fake Plastic Fish commenter, Rob, ranted about Starbucks VIA single-serving coffee packs. Standing on the platform, I alternately grumble at the billboard in front of me (Hey, I like to hit the snooze button too, but it’s not an excuse for over-packaged single serving crap!) and smile at the Oakland hills in the distance.

Starbucks VIA billboard

BART platform

Once on the train, I take out my iPod and ruminate about the irony of having blogged about how we are not entitled to iPods, yet here I am getting ready to listen to one. I tell myself that just because we are not entitled to them doesn’t mean we should never have them. Having an iPod is not a human right, and if I lost or broke this one, I would not replace it with a new one. But I’ve had this iPod since before I started Fake Plastic Fish, and if it got lost or broken, I would replace it with an old secondhand one from Craigslist. Digital media players reduce the consumption of CDs and even books, one of which I’m about to listen to now.

So I pull out my headphones to get started and see this…

my cat eats headphones

Crap! Once again I have been careless with my things, and my plastic-eating cat has had her way with them. Well, they will just have to do, chewed or not.  They still work.  And sadly, these headphones are actually brand new. Yes, I bought new plastic headphones when Arya chewed through the cord of the last pair I had, a pair I reported in my last month’s plastic tally. I justified buying new ones because it’s gross to stick someone else’s used ear buds in your ears and because wearing traditional headphones doesn’t work on BART above the loud noise of the train.  I’m already losing my hearing as it is.  Just ask Michael.

So, here I am rationalizing again. And yet, when I consider that these headphones are the only new thing I’ve bought so far this year (besides a tool for fixing the dishwasher), I can’t really beat myself up that much. Oh wait, we did replace our digital scale too, after trying doggedly to get it fixed. Wow. We’re just buying up a storm this year.

So, after a bit of self-recrimination, I’m listening to the audiobook, Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a BlogHer reading group selection for this month. I’m also looking out the window when the train emerges from underground briefly, passing by the Imperial Walkers along the Port of Oakland.

Imperial Walkers

My Job

Forty minutes later I’m at my accounting job. It’s afternoon. I start my work day late and end it late at night because that’s just the way my internal clock is set. I eat my peanut butter and jam sandwiches, using the metal utensils and ceramic plate I keep at work, and then I spend eight hours accounting for things. Once again, I’m staring at a computer screen, but this time I have no furry animals to wake me up and remind me to stretch once in a while. I swear, I’m going to end up a stooped old woman by the time I’m 50 (which is fewer than 5 years away!) if I don’t start exercising and stretching my body. Not. Good.

End of the Day

And then, finally, it’s the end of the day and I find myself on the BART platform again waiting for the train. But now, it’s dark and cold, and I’m too tired to take anymore pictures. I plan on eating a salad when I get home but end up with bread and cheese — comfort food — because it’s easier and because, as I wrote a year ago, I like bread a little too much.

And then, I’m up for another hour or so illegally downloading the 6th season of LOST from Limewire because I’ve watched the first 5 Seasons and don’t want to wait for the final season to come out on Netflix. And finally I’m in bed. During the 3 days per week that I go to my job, it’s pretty much the only time I see Michael, which doesn’t even really count since he’s been asleep for hours, because our schedules are so different. (Did you think I had forgotten all about him?)

Analysis

Well, I’ve had another zero plastic day.  But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do a lot better ecologically speaking.  If there’s one area in which I could reduce my environmental footprint, it would be the amount of time I spend at the computer or using other electronic devices like my cell phone or iPod. Like many of us these days, I’m plugged in A LOT. I decided a while back to have one electronics-free day per week, and I haven’t followed through. Maybe I’ll start that again. We’ll see.

Stay tuned.  The next post will be the Green Moms Carnival itself, hosted right here on this blog, since this whole exercise was actually my idea in the first place.  :-)

25 comments
SavvyChristine
SavvyChristine

Ha! I guess I DID miss your knitted iPod cozy. Strange how the mind can recall certain things, but not others, no? I feel like the extreme lack of sleep I was on yesterday might have contributed to the problem. Are you on Ravelry?

SavvyChristine
SavvyChristine

Here I was today mindlessly daydreaming at work, wishing I could get my hands on some good yarn, when I realized I may have your earbud problems solved: a knitted earbud cozy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/83646871@N00/3631814881/) Now that I've made my way back to this post, though, I see that I was thinking of the wrong part of your headphones. No worries! There's a solution for that too: http://thinkmagenta.blogspot.com/2008/10/free-pattern-ipod-earbud-covers.html I don't suppose you knit?

Rebecca
Rebecca

Like the other folks who have commented on your blog, I enjoy your story and ideas on being plastic free. I see some immediate changes we can make in our family (My husband Mike and 3 cats). I have a few cloth grocery bags but have used mostly plastic; that ends today. I sew a lot, so I will repurpose some things into more cloth grocery bags; thus leaving some in each car- no excuse to use the plastic bags. I have lots of plastic bags and will find ways to reuse them a few times before I take them to the recycle center. Other than medical equipment I need, my shopping habits will not include plastics Thanks for taking the time to open our eyes on a variety of subjects as well as giving us practical ideas on avoiding plastics.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

@Jen, exactly. We all do what we can. I only work at a regular job 3 days a week, and I don't have kids. But then again, I think of the green moms who do have kids and I think that making homemade cat food takes a lot less time then preparing homemade meals for children several times per day. Honestly, I don't think it's a time thing as much as a resources thing -- living in the Bay Area helps a lot.

Jen
Jen

Wow, thanks for posting that. I find your blog really inspiring, but I have to say I end up feeling really guilty that I can't do what you do. Now, having seen how your day goes, I understand! You have several hours in your day to do plastic-avoiding activities that don't exist in my day. This was really helpful.

Rebecca The Greeniac
Rebecca The Greeniac

What a wonderful post! I'm most certainly going to try the home made cat food. Although, I actually wrote to all of the premium cat food companies who all swore up and down that there is no BPA in their 6 ounce cans. But it's still a LOT of waste. I often find myself wishing for a power outage... it's sometimes hard to remember that they all come with an off switch!

Katy
Katy

Way to go, Beth! I love your relaxed morning. Starting at 9am sounds about right to me (if only my little people would agree with me). I am amazed about how few new things you have bought this year. That is really inspiring. And your point about being less plugged in is very helpful. I've got a couple other writing projects other than my blog, and it is hard to keep up with all of it lately. But my days now are mostly computer free, and I do feel itchy in the afternoon for it, but I hold out until the kids are asleep. Than it is all screen, all the time. No wonder I can't fall asleep at night! Thanks for the post.

Clif
Clif

Is that peanut butter the kind where the oil separates? If so, I came up with a simple way to make it easier to mix. Turn it upside down while it sits on your pantry shelf before being opened. That way the oil works it's way up through the peanut butter and when you mix it up it's half the work because there is no stiff relatively dry peanut butter on the bottom to stir up. Yikes! I'm starting to sound like a mom. I better go outside and start a fight with somebody.

karen hanrahan
karen hanrahan

I like the pictoral essay Beth - the images say alot!!

rach
rach

what about the sticker/label on your pb jar..is that plastic? ;P someone already mentioned hulu, you can also watch lost and other shows on abc.go.com/watch thanks for sharing! :)

Tracey
Tracey

Plastic-free coop meeting = microwaved 2 stalks of broccoli to crispy hot stage and ate them with Thai peanut sauce from a glass jar. At my coop, as everywhere, prepared foods come in plastic wrap, so I decided to eat my favourite things in spite of how weird I looked peeling broccoli pieces off two giant heads and dipping them! Thanks for the pictures!

Suzanne
Suzanne

One day our power went out for 4 days, no electronics and I have to say it wasn't bad, we said then we should have an electronics Sabbath, from Fridays at 5 until Saturdays at 5. But we haven't done that either, hmm there seems to be a trend here, maybe there needs to be a challenge set up?

mudnessa
mudnessa

I really like the idea of an electronics free day, I really should do one of those, think I might need to start small and do once a month and go up from there.

Amber
Amber

I like the idea of an electronics-free day myself. I bet that my kids would, too. But it kind of makes me twitchy thinking about it. Maybe I could start with an electronics free morning, and work my way up. ;)

stace
stace

i do have one question- what does your freezer look like? i believe you are single and may eat fresh everyday.. i buy fresh and freeze foods bc i dont have BIG lil eaters- but have a SMALL budget:) (buy on sale and freeze) ziplocs take up less room and are sure not to break the first time around. i recycle the bags once ive used them to their full life potential. anyone?

Janet
Janet

Hi Beth, You might want to check out www.hulu.com for Lost (and other TV) episodes. They don't always have all episodes but it might be a better option than LimeWire.

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee

Beth, I really like the idea of a have an electronics-free day once a week! I need that. I'm amazed by how little you eat for breakfast. I would be starving. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

stace
stace

love it. i dont live plastic free, i have 2 tots that put me in the pour house by breaking all my glass and other ware. but my toddler does eat from a wood bowl (very hard to break id say) that he throws at me often! i pick up "trash" too. only if its safe to do..w/in my reach..like as im passing a bush in the lib and i see a plastic bag or cup. etc i am help to plan my family reunion of 100 folks (ive never met) and i am going to look into buying and donating back -all the silverware. REAL. but will go paper plates bc im not washing 100+ plates at a picnic lakeside party. my uncle said he'd help me recycle any plastic that gets used.. pack and lug it home (50 miles away) i hope my dream comes true bc ive been wishing to be more of a green party goer/attender etc. parties create the most waste ive ever seen (concerts!) etc. anyway.. thanks for posting and time spent!

Briana
Briana

I like this post because it shows us that you are a REAL human being. I commend you for setting such a great example about reducing so much waste. I also commend you for shining light on the imperfect, humanness in your life, that we ALL have. It reminds me that no one can do it all, and that includes myself. It reminds me to have realistic expectations of myself! Thank you!

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

My dog is my stay-off-the-computer-before-I-overdo-it device too. He keeps me honest. And he's cute. A double win!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Yeah, I checked Hulu and ABC, but they only had the last 6 or 7 episodes of the season. I didn't feel bad about downloading from Limewire because those shows are free to watch anyway. It's not like they're on paid TV.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Ooh, Rach, good point. I can't check to see right now because the jar is at work and I am at home. But if it is plastic, you know it will end up in my tally when the peanut butter is finished. I never throw away plastic jar labels.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Stace, my freezer is full of cat food in Anchor glass refrigerator containers and mason jars full of leftovers and grated cheese. Also, Michael has some frozen food in there that I don't eat. You're right though. We do eat mostly fresh food.

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