Monthly Archives: April 2011

Ban The Plastic Bag Book Giveaway

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Monday night, I attended a showing of the film Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? in San Francisco, finally getting to see it in a real theater on a real screen. Then, the following day, the Santa Clara, CA Board of Supervisors passed a ban on plastic bags and a 15 cent fee on paper bags.

So, what can you do to reduce plastic bag pollution in your community? There are resources out there to help you.

1) The Plastic Pollution Coalition has put together a Bag Ban Tool Kit, which they’ve posted on their new site, Plasticfree Times. The toolkit compiles many useful links on community organizing for bag bans and fees from all over the Internet.

2) The Bag It filmmakers want to help your community become a Bag It Town, and they too have created a toolkit to help.

3) My Plastic-free Life reader Alyssa Pasquale, who guest posted here two years ago, has an extra copy of the resource book, Ban the Plastic Bag, to give away to one U.S. reader of this blog. Ban the Plastic Bag… Read the rest

Crochet Your Own Plastic-Free Headphone Ear Pads

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Back in January, I posted on my Facebook profile:

The foam pads (read: plastic) on my headphones are wearing out. Motivation to learn to crochet because I hate round knitting.

Well, this weekend, April 23, I finally summoned up the motivation to learn enough crochet basics to fix my headphones.

See, even though I use my wooden thinksound ear buds for most electronic listening, I also have a pair of big cordless headphones for watching TV late at night and another scrappy pair of regular headphones that probably came with an old Walkman or something. The foam pads on both pairs were just in shreds. And while it’s possible to buy replacements, I didn’t want any new plastic.

So, after Googling for a while (my favorite thing) I found some instructions for crocheting my own.

Crochet Headphone Covers from Craftbits.com

Crochet: Headphone Covers, Revisited from Sewhooked.org.

Great! Except I didn’t know how to crochet. My grandmother… Read the rest

Earth Day Invitations

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Happy Earth Day, everybody. I’m about to go out and get dirty.

But first… some invitations.

You Are Invited…

…to come join me this Monday, April 25, at 7pm in San Francisco for a screening of the film Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? at the Landmark Opera Plaza movie theater, after which I’ll be around to answer questions. Find out what Jeb Berrier is doing in my bathroom. If you live near San Francisco and you haven’t seen the film yet, why not come Monday night?  If you can’t make it, check the Bag It community screening schedule or to find out where it’ll screen near you.  You can even watch it on TV this month.

You Are Not Invited…

…to Coca Cola’s gala Earth Day event today, starring Matthew Morrison from the TV show “Glee” and a bevy of models covering up only 30% of their bodies, to promote Coke’s new invention: Dasani bottled municipal water… Read the rest

Plastic Easter Eggs for Your Eco-Friendly Easter Egg Hunt?

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Ah, the seasonal aisle. It’s always full of some kind of plastic. This time of year, we’re confronted by walls of brightly (some would say garishly) colored plastic Easter eggs, and bunnies, and baskets, and plastic grass, and all that stuff. Because what’s a holiday without plastic, right?

After running into the plastic egg wall at CVS and having the expected freak out, I started remembering all the fun I had as a kid, hunting for those plastic eggs with their little surprises inside. Sure, we dyed real eggs too. But the plastic ones held secret treasures! Then, as I was walking home reminiscing, I passed a local thrift store in my neighborhood, and what did I spy through the window? Secondhand plastic Easter eggs!

And more plastic Easter eggs…

And further down the street, another thrift shop had them too, as well as Easter baskets.

I thought I’d found the perfect Easter solution for folks who have kids and who really… Read the rest

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story Book Review

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In the beginning of 2009, I sat in an Oakland Cafe with San Francisco journalist Susan Freinkel, explaining my plastic-free life. She was working on a book about the story of plastic and wanted to hear my point of view, which of course I shared enthusiastically, even dragging her off the butcher shop with me and my stainless steel pot to buy plastic-free meat for my cats.

Her book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story has been officially released today, and after spending all weekend with it, I’m happy to give it a hearty recommendation. This is neither a dry environmental text nor alarmist rant. Telling the story of plastic through eight everyday plastic items — a comb, plastic chair, Frisbee, hospital IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle, and credit card — the book describes both the hopes and hazards of plastic in a conversational style that’s hard to put down.

The title of the book is appropriate. In the first chapters,… Read the rest

Initiative: Getting Restaurants to Stop Giving Out Plastic Straws Automatically

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Want a free reusable straw and the knowledge that you’re making a difference?  Read on…

The Problem

Wouldn’t it be nice if restaurant servers asked if you wanted a straw before sticking one in your drink automatically? Right now, it’s up to us to refuse those straws ahead of time.  And sometimes, we have to ask more than once for our request to be remembered and fulfilled.

That’s one of the reasons I carry a Glass Dharma glass drinking straw with me wherever I go.  Whipping out my straw is a memorable way to get the server’s attention and sometimes to start a conversation about the environmental impact of plastic.  I also have sensitive teeth, so drinking cold beverages through a straw is just easier.  Some of you have mentioned that you don’t need any straw at all.  So let’s tell restaurants to quit giving them to us!

Take Action. Get a Free Reusable Straw.

To inspire us to take action, Glass Dharma… Read the rest

Catch Yourself in the Act and Win a Plastic-Free Bamboo Reflect Klean Kanteen from Greenfeet

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(03/04/2012 Update: Sadly, Greenfeet closed its doors this year.  Please support the online green retailer BuyGreen.com. They ship products using only reused or plastic-free packaging and paper packing tape. And a portion of the proceeds go to support MyPlasticFreeLife.com)

Valerie Reddemann from Greenfeet wants to give one of you Klean Kanteen’s new Reflect stainless steel plastic-free water bottle. It’s the one with the bamboo top that I reviewed in January.

In fact, with Earth Day approaching, lots of vendors have contacted me asking to give away products to My Plastic-free Life readers. Even a company selling bacon-flavored air in a plastic can. (Actually, that one might have been for April Fools Day.) But I’m picky. I won’t host just anyone’s giveaway. I mean, come on. This blog is about reducing consumption, not acquiring more stuff, right?

True, but supporting sustainable businesses is the other… Read the rest

BPA-Free Does Not Mean Safe. Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals.

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Which plastics are safe?  I get that question all the time. The Internet is full of charts listing the numbers of the various types of plastic and explaining which ones are safe and which ones are not.  Supposedly, #2 (high density polyethylene), #4 (low density polyethylene), and #5 (polypropylene) are safe, right?  Does that mean the lid on my travel mug is safe?  It’s #5 polypropylene.

So is the sport cap on Michael’s Klean Kanteen water bottle.

We’re supposed to avoid plastics #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (polycarbonate). Polycarbonate is the plastic that is made from the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). And BPA has a bad rap because it’s a hormone-disruptor. Walk down the aisles of any drug store these days, and you’ll find rows of plastic products labelled BPA-Free.  BPA-Free water bottles…

Baby bottles…

Pacifiers…

In fact, entire shelves of baby products are labelled BPA-free. … Read the rest

How To Cook Dried Beans – A Staple of Plastic-free Living

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My friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship just released a new e-Book this year, The Everything Beans Book, and she’s giving readers of this blog a 20% discount through 4/15 (coupon code 20BEANSBK). I’m excited about Katie’s latest book because learning how to prepare and cook dried beans is crucial when you’re trying to live a plastic-free life. Why? Because dried beans are a great source of protein we can purchase plastic-free from bulk bins using our own bags and containers.

Canned beans, on the other hand, are problematic because most metal cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical. And for me, even the new BPA-free cans are suspect because we really don’t know if the new linings are any safer than the old ones. Chemical companies don’t reveal their “trade secrets” and consumers are left in the dark.

But preparing dried beans is so hard, right? Wrong. While… Read the rest

The Truth About Pepsi’s New Plant-Based PET Plastic Bottle

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Pepsi’s new soda bottle is different.

Last month, PepsiCo made a big announcement: it had developed the world’s first entirely plant-based PET beverage bottle. And although the new bottle is made from plants, it’s actually less like those corn-based compostable bottles you may have heard about and more like regular, ordinary PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, the kind of plastic nearly all single-use beverage bottles are made from.

I’ll explain all about the new bottle, why it’s interesting, and what I see are its pros and cons. But first, I need to tell you about how I went a little nutty on Twitter the night after the story was published. See, normally I’d have taken the story in stride, looked into the bottle on my own time, and decided if it was worth writing about. But that night, I started seeing all these excited tweets about PepsiCo’s new “plastic-free” bottle.

Plastic-free?… Read the rest