Author Archives: Beth Terry

August 24, 2015

My Favorite Plastic-Free Sandwich and Snack Baggies and Containers


Are you still relying on plastic baggies, bags, or containers to pack lunches for school or work? Are you concerned about the chemicals that can leach out of plastics into the foods you or your kids eat? A lot of plastic food containers are touted as BPA-free. But BPA-free does not necessarily mean safe because the chemicals used in place of BPA can have the same harmful effects. And plastics like polypropylene may contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan, which have been found to leach.

Here are a few of my favorite reusable cloth and stainless steel sandwich/snack baggies or containers.  My criteria for selecting them as my favorites are that 1) they contain the least amount of plastic or other synthetic polymer, and 2) I know and respect the owners of the companies that make them.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the offerings out there.  And yes, two of these companies are advertisers on this site: I chose them as sponsors … Read the rest

August 2, 2015

One Week Without Plastic Trash in Germany


The following is a guest post by two German students, Laura and Sophie, who tried an experiment to live one week without plastic trash.  Click here to check out their blog and read this story in the original German.  These posts reveal their successes, frustrations, and attempts at trying new things (like black coffee!)  Please enjoy, and if you know of good resources in Germany, please be sure and leave a comment for them.


The first plastic-free shopping

The first plastic free shopping was not that easy. Once you enter the supermarket, you notice that there is almost nothing you can buy as you would normally do. Usually I am going to the supermarket and buy the things I like the most and which are affordable. But now there is a restriction: no plastic package. Here in Germany, they do not offer the vegetables I am always buying without plastic package. So I have to take another salad and different apples and put them into my reusable bag. Somehow… Read the rest

August 2, 2015

Homemade Tooth Powder and Facial Scrub Recipes, Sans Plastic Microbeads


Neutrogena Deep Clean gentle scrub still contains microbeads as of 08/02/2105. Photo from website.

Are you still rubbing plastic all over your face?

Since I first reported on microbeads–those tiny bits of plastic added to facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products–in 2007 and then again in 2013, the NY Times has reported on them, several U.S. states have passed legislation to ban them,  Canada is on the verge of banning them, and the Story of Stuff Project has created a video and campaign to get other states and countries to follow suit.  (Please follow that link, if you haven’t already, to take action and ask your representatives to ban microbeads where you live.)

But the trouble with some of  the proposed legislation is that it allows companies to switch to “biodegradable” plastic microbeads.  That’s a problem because most “biodegradable”… Read the rest

July 27, 2015

Storing Produce in Glass Is Safe, Healthy, and Beautiful

Storing in Glass is beautiful (c) featured

Last year, I received the following email from blog reader Melliny:

Hi…I recently began converting plastic to glass in my kitchen. It has been such an exciting experience to me that I took photos along the way to inspire my family to hopefully do the same…. The fact is that storing good food in glass is very beautiful, which is inspiring.

Please enjoy these gorgeous images, as well as Melliny’s explanation of how she stores fruits and vegetables in glass in her refrigerator.  At the end, I’ve added a few of my own ideas.

I got rid of the “vegetable bins” in my refrigerators where plastic bags filled with rotting produce are most likely to live and use glass jars to store almost everything. You don’t need veggie bins when each type of produce you have has its own transparent glass container.  It is also more convenient sometimes to lay tall jars on their sides, such as when you have soft, heavy fruit like… Read the rest

July 26, 2015

Fresh Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe


My new favorite thing this summer is making tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes and my toaster oven.  Why would I need to do that when it’s easy to buy tomato sauce in glass jars?  Well, several reasons.  First, even plastic-free packaging like glass has an environmental footprint.  (I’ll write more about that in my next post.)  I’d rather avoid most kinds of packaging (especially when the homemade alternative is as simple as this one is.)  And second, homemade tomato sauce from fresh summer tomatoes is delicious.  In fact, it’s so good, I sometimes just eat it with a spoon directly from its repurposed jar.

Two tools make this recipe super easy for me:  my ancient toaster oven and a secondhand stainless steel food mill I found at a yard sale several years ago.

First, I spread out the tomatoes on the toaster oven baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them.  With bigger tomatoes, you’d… Read the rest

July 16, 2015

New Plastic-Free AND Sugar-Free Green Tree Chewing Gum


I don’t chew gum, but Michael does, as did legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager (maybe he still does.)  But if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that most chewing gum (even “natural” Glee Gum) either contains plastic as an ingredient in the gum base or is packaged in plastic.

For a while, English company Peppersmith offered a plastic-free gum in plastic-free packaging.  Sadly, the company switched to a synthetic gum base last year, much to the dismay of many of its loyal customers, if the comments in this post are any indication.

Simply Gum came along with all natural gum in plastic-free packaging.  But many people are concerned that the sweetener used is cane sugar, which is bad for dental hygiene.

Now, Portland, Oregon company Green Tree Gum is offering an all natural, synthetic-free chewing gum in plastic-free cardboard packaging, and it’s sweetened with xylitol, which is good… Read the rest

July 8, 2015

#PlasticfreeJuly Book Review: That’s a Wrap eGuide


Since writing my book Plastic-Free, I’ve had multiple requests for a condensed version with just the basics for getting started. My answer is usually, “Great idea. How about you write it?” Because seriously, we need as many plastic-free voices in the media as possible. And to be honest, I get tired of hearing my own voice.  Well, now someone else gone and written the shorter guide that people have been clamoring for.

What’s Included

In her new, brightly illustrated digital ebook That’s a Wrap, just in time for Plasticfree July, Australian blogger Lindsay Miles includes basic information about problems with plastic (as well as the drawbacks to recycling and plant-based plastics) and why you’d want to reduce your use of it.

After getting the problems out of the way in the first 25% of the book, Lindsay goes on to offer a wealth of plastic-free tips and solutions,

highlighted throughout… Read the rest

June 1, 2015

Hoarding for the Environment? Zero Waste Experts Bea Johnson and Deb Baida Respond.


Do you have a hard time letting go of things because they might be useful one day? Are you reluctant to give away your old plastic kitchenware for fear that someone else will be harmed by it? Or that they won’t dispose of it properly when they’re done with it? Do you resist tossing things into the recycle bin because you know the truth about what happens to most of our plastic recycling, and it’s not pretty? Do you feel compelled to bring home items left on the street even if you have no immediate use for them?

Are you turning your own home into a landfill?

The plastic in my attic.

These are questions many environmentalists deal with. Ever since June of 2007 when I put a bag under my kitchen table and vowed to acquire no new plastic, I’ve been collecting my plastic waste. And one day, a friend of mine looked at my boxes of years of collected plastic and said, “You know Beth, they have a word for this behavior, and it starts with… Read the rest

April 19, 2015

Is There Hope For Cleaning Up The Pacific Garbage Patch?


This post might be controversial, but sometimes you have to admit when you might have been a little bit… wrong?  Anyway, five years ago, I wrote a pretty depressing blog post about why we cannot solve the problem of ocean plastic pollution by focusing on cleanup schemes.

2010- 2013: My Doubts

My point was that as long as we continue to consume vast amounts of disposable plastic, any effort at cleanup would be, to quote Captain Charles Moore, “like baling water from a bathtub with the spigot still running.” So, in 2012, when I started hearing about a Dutch teenager who had designed an expensive contraption to clean up the gyre within 5 years, I dismissed the story as just one more distraction from the real issue.  Here’s then 18-year old engineering student Boyan Slat at a TEDx event in Delft explaining his idea:

Since he first conceived the idea of a passive collection device into which ocean currents would depositRead the rest

February 27, 2015

Hunting for the perfect bottle drying rack


It’s not easy to do the dishes when there are a bunch of reusable bottles in the way.  And early in the morning, when I’m more than a little stressed out trying to get out the door on time, confronting this situation was making me nuts.

I know, I know.  How hard is it to just move those bottles?  Terrible problem to have, compared to all the other problems in the world, right?  Still, sometimes fixing small, irritating problems–especially those that slow me down in the morning–helps me be more effective for the rest of the day.

So I went on the hunt for a perfect bottle drying solution that would not take up extra real estate on my small kitchen counter.  (Putting them over wooden spoons or chopsticks  wasn’t really working for me.)  And then, searching Amazon, I discovered the Mommy Genius bottle and bag drying rack,which had a slew of positive reviews.

Since it’s chrome-plated steel, rather than… Read the rest