This story starts with a car wreck. A few weeks ago–the week before the U.S. election, to be exact–I was in Maryland visiting my dad. Riding shotgun on the way home from my brother’s birthday dinner, I caught a glimpse of the sign for MOM’s Organic Market and shrieked, “HEY, THERE IT IS!” Unfortunately, my scream startled dad enough for him to swerve into a curb that had suddenly jutted out into the middle of the road. (Who put that there?) We ended up with a flat tire and had to wait in the MOM’s parking lot for my brother in law to come help us change the tire.
You’re probably wondering why I screamed when we passed MOM’s Organic Market. Well, growing up in Beltsville, MD in the 80’s, we shopped at conventional grocery stores like Giant and Safeway and A&P. We didn’t have markets like Whole… Read the rest
11/30/16 Update: Hurray! Despite the disappointing national election results, California has some things to cheer about. We passed Prop 67, the single use plastic bag ban! Thanks to everyone who voted!
A few weeks ago, I did something completely out of my comfort zone. I signed up and then showed up to phone bank with Clean Water Action in support of Prop 67, a statewide plastic bag ban on the upcoming November ballot, and against Prop 65, a competing measure that could completely undermine efforts to eliminate plastic bag pollution across the state. I also dragged my friends Nancy and Corbina along with me since, you know, misery loves company and all that.
What is Prop 67?
In 2014, the California legislature passed SB270 (Padilla), a law which would ban single-use plastic carry out bags and require merchants to charge customers a 10 cent fee to purchase disposable paper bags. Shoppers could avoid… Read the rest
11/30/16 Update: Well, so we voted. Now what? Trump has vowed to dismantle environmental regulations. We can’t let that happen. More than ever before, it’s time to get active.
I have to admit, the current election cycle has me wanting to hide under my covers with a bottle of wine and a few choice edibles until the madness is over. It’s been weird and ugly, and I’m sure quite a few of us are exhausted and tempted to just stay home on November 8.
PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.
November 8 is not only about electing our next president, which is important in itself, but also electing the representatives and passing the propositions that will impact the state of our air, water, soil, and climate in the years to come. Clean Air Mom’s Action — the political action partner of Mom’s Clean Air Force — is urging parents to get out and vote for the health of our children and those who are the most vulnerable.
Please… Read the rest
The following is an email I received from reader Susan Siu about how much she loves having to take her recycling to the local transfer center instead of having curbside pickup. I loved it so much, I asked her if she would send me pictures and let me post her email here. Don’t get me wrong: I still want curbside recycling to be made available so that people who wouldn’t otherwise recycle will comply, but I love her enthusiasm for her local transfer station. So, please enjoy this post about recycling/reusing in Southern Maine.
I LOVE your book and blog! I am a small-scale vegetarian organic homesteader in Southern Maine currently in the process of going zero-waste and plastic-free, and your book has been extremely helpful as well as fascinating. I have been watching many of your film/video recommendations with my kids, and they are sharing what they’ve learned with all their friends.
After… Read the rest
Photo credit: John Suchocki, Sunday Republican newspaper
Three years ago, artist Dara Herman Zierlein emailed me out of the blue:
Dear My Plastic Free life,
Thank you for all that you do and the amazing resources! Below is a link to my watercolor paintings dealing with multiple themes around pollution and the consequences of using disposable one time use plastic items, like water bottles etc… I am an art activist, My name is Dara. I’m excited to share them with you. Its a very hard to fight this battle alone and I spread the word through my art as I practice eliminating plastic use in my daily life.
The first two images were poignant and beautiful, but it was the third that stabbed my heart and took my breath away.
And then, sadly, the email got buried under a bazillion others.
Last night, finally getting my insane email inbox under control, I stumbled across Dara’s images again and had the same… Read the rest
Last week, I received an email from a new blogger who calls herself Little Urban Greenie. She’s a mom and “homesteader in the making.” She’s also expecting a new baby in the next month or so and plans to significantly reduce the amount of disposable products and plastics used in the birthing process this time around. She asked if she could share her plans here to help others who might be concerned about the amount of waste they generate during the childbirth process, and I thought it was a great idea.
Please check out Greenie’s post and follow her blog to find out how successful she is and to learn more about her crunchy ways.… Read the rest
Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home has created a new mobile website for finding shops that offer products without packaging. No matter where in the world you live, it’s possible there is a shop nearby where you can bring your own bags and containers to buy foods or personal care and cleaning products without the disposable wrapping, usually plastic, that most products come packaged in. You might have never heard of this shop, but someone else has and has added it to the BULK website for you to find.… Read the rest
There, I said it. And I have found ways to buy and store it without plastic packaging. I’ve wanted to share some of these ideas on this blog but have stopped myself out of fear of reprisals from those who feel that if I really cared about the environment, I would not only stop eating it myself but would also not mention its very existence. But living from fear, or at least that particular fear, ends today. I’m getting pretty burned out from writing what I think people want me to write rather than what I actually feel excited to share.
For four long years, I ate only a vegetarian diet, and the only meat I bought was for our cats (who are obligate carnivores.) In fact, I wrote a very reasoned and heartfelt blog post about why I decided to become a vegetarian. But while my heart and mind loved the idea of being a vegetarian, my body didn’t.
Two … Read the rest
There are a lot of things I make myself to avoid products in plastic packaging. I make my own chocolate syrup, for example, to avoid the kind in the squeeze bottle. And I’ve made my own cleaning and personal care products for years. But when it comes to durable goods, I’ve often opted to let someone else make it, relying on the handiwork of artisans on Etsy, for example. And while it’s great to support small business owners, my Buy Nothing New challenge is not going to allow that, which is cool because all of a sudden, I’ve rediscovered the joy of knitting and the feeling of pride that comes from making things with my own two hands again.
My First Scarf in Years
I used to knit all the time. In fact, I went through a period of compulsively knitting things for every person I knew. Why then, did I find myself on Etsy, this past November, searching for the perfect… Read the rest
I’m not going to buy anything new this year. Except food. And soap. And toilet paper. Recycled toilet paper. Okay, let me start over. I’m not going to buy any new, non-consumable things. Except I already have. Yesterday. So, what’s all this about?
After spending the last eight years of my life avoiding new plastic (plastic products and plastic packaging), I suddenly found myself in 2015 obsessed with not only avoiding new plastic but also replacing the minute amount of existing plastic in my house with brand new, mostly expensive, plastic-free products, which is exactly what I had decided NOT to do when I started this project. Off the top of my head, these are some things I replaced this year:
(And BTW, I’m not encouraging you to purchase anything new, but if you succumb to the beckonings of Amazon as I did, please do it through… Read the rest