Author Archives: Beth Terry

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… 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… 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… 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,… 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 Read 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… Read the rest

February 23, 2015

Arrifana Resturant in Portugal is saving 5000-6000 single use plastic cups a year!

Photo Restaurante Praia Arrifana ©

Michelle Cassar is a long-time reader of this blog and committed anti-plastic activist, although I’m not sure she would actually call herself an activist, nor anti plastic.  She’s also a surfer, photographer, and world traveller who has been living in Portugal for quite a while.  Back in 2011, she sent me a list of the over 10,000 plastic items she had refused since beginning her plastic-free life.  And now, she’s helping others to refuse plastic by working with a local restaurant to eliminate plastic cups.  Here is the story in her own words.  Read, enjoy the beautiful photography, and be inspired!

(Por favor, vá para baixo para a versão Português.)… Read the rest

December 17, 2014

Kamik Recycled and Recyclable Rain Boots

So, I have kind of a confession.  I waited until we had the biggest rainstorm in years to even think about buying rain boots.  I waited until my work shoes and socks were soaked through, and I was sloshing around the office all day, to ask myself, “I wonder if I can buy Kamik recycled rain boots here in the Bay Area.”  I’d already researched the boots for inclusion in my book.  I just hadn’t bothered to actually try them out.  Until now.

So, last Thursday evening, I found myself in Nordstrom at San Francisco Centre asking if there were any Kamik rain boots and basically getting laughed at for thinking any store in town would still have any rain boots left.  So I did something I’m not proud of.  I ordered them overnight from Amazon.  And they arrived the next day.

Kamiks are great but Amazon sucks

Okay, first let me tell you about the boots, and then let … Read the rest

December 14, 2014

GreenCitizen does more than recycle your e-waste

I first learned about GreenCitizen several years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with old CDs and DVDs.  Since then, Michael and I have taken several dead gadgets to them: our old rice cooker, our old blender, and some obsolete computer equipment.  So I was excited to take a tour of GreenCitizen’s hub in Burlingame this weekend and have a chat with founder and CEO James Kao.

Kao was born in Taiwan and graduated from UCLA in 1982 with a degree in math and computer science.  He went on to get an MBA and work for companies like HP, IBM, and Oracle as a software engineer.  As a guy with an engineering mindset, he’s all about solving problems.  So, after seeing a short film called “Exporting Harm: The High Tech Trashing of Asia” about e-waste pollution overseas, he set out to create a solution.

GreenCitizen is more than a recycling center for e-waste.  Kao wants… Read the rest

December 1, 2014

Plastic-Free EcoEtsy Holiday Gift Give-Away

If you’ve read my book or regularly follow this blog, you know I love me some Etsy.  I love shopping for plastic-free products on Etsy, and I love that I can contact the sellers and ask them not to use any plastic shipping materials.  So, in the tradition of last year, Team EcoEtsy is once again giving away seven different holiday gifts to seven different readers of My Plastic-Free Life.  Please read the full post in order to enter the drawing.

Update: The contest is over and the winners have been chosen. Winners are identified at the bottom of each gift item description.

Team EcoEtsy is a global team of eco-minded Etsy sellers, whose mission is dedicated to protecting our planet by utilizing methods to reduce carbon footprints in managing their businesses in the most eco-friendly manner.  Many members offer plastic-free items and ship their packages without plastic, either by default… Read the rest