Aquarian Bath Handmade Personal Care Gift Set

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I met Cory from Aquarian Bath two years ago when I was trying to figure out plastic-free toothpaste options.  Her store blew me away because of all the cool, handmade products packaged without plastic: tooth powder, shampoo bars, lip balm, deodorant, soap, and more.

Since then, Aquarian Bath has become an advertiser on this blog (I am very, very picky about what advertisers I will accept), and a few months ago, she and I were interviewed back to back on the Air Occupy radio show on reducing plastic.

This week, Cory is offering to give away one of her new personal care gift sets to a  reader of this blog.  Here’s her description:

10/05/2013 Update:  Thank you for all your comments.  The contest is closed and we have a winner.  Congratulations to Megan!

Aquarian Bath has been getting ready for the holiday gift giving season.  Three new plastic-free bath and body gift sets are now available.  One is a Lavender Bath and Body set which includes a soap, deodorant, shampoo bar, lip balm and 2 cedar soap decks.

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The second is a Hemp Soap and Shampoo bar set with 2 soap decks.

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The third is a  Whimsical Cookie Cutter Styled Soap Set also with 2 wooden soap decks.

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The products are packaged in kraft paper boxes with krinkle kraft paper filling.  Aquarian Bath ships all products with plastic free packing materials, there is a dedicated plastic-free section in the store.

The winner gets to choose one of these options. This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

To enter, please leave a comment with:

1) Your name
2) Your email address (in the email address field, not the body of the comment. It will only be visible to me and Cory.)
3) Your favorite plastic-free personal care tip.
4) Bonus: you can get one extra entry by tweeting this give away.  Be sure and tag both @Plasticfreebeth and @Aquarianbath and include the link to this post.

The winner will be chosen at random, so be as open and honest with your tip suggestions as possible.

I’ll select a winner by the end of next week.

When is Plastic NOT Moop?

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This will be my penultimate Burning Man post for the year. I think. (I have one more in mind, but who knows if I’ll get a burning desire to say even more after that? Or less?)

I have a discussion question for you, but first, a little background and lots of pictures. (I don’t think there is any nudity in these photos, but let me know if you see some and I’ll remove it. This blog is rated PG even if my life isn’t always.)

Reducing our plastic footprint was the theme of the Earth Guardians camp this year. Toward that end, we had Annie’s plastic footprint sculpture

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I gave two talks on plastic-free living on and off the playa…

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Karima from the Plastic Pollution Coalition was there, taking pictures and working on quantifying Burning Man’s plastic footprint.

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So was my friend Tracey whom I camped with last year and who had worked very hard to deplastify her business.

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Several people came up to me during the week who had the same idea about plastic. The Moop Monster made an appearance…

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(He has offered to make me a similar costume which will be much more comfortable than my all-plastic sea monster costume.)

And this guy came by with a huge bag of plastic… mostly bottles… that could not be recycled on the playa.  More and more, plastic is on people’s minds.

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One of our events was a talk given by organic chemist Rebecca Braslau, who explained the history and chemistry of plastic,

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demonstrated how flammable celluloid is by lighting a ping pong ball on fire,

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and made Nylon in a beaker right in front of us.

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Rebecca talked a lot about the toxic chemicals in plastics, particularly BPA and phthalates, the latter of which she is working on making less likely to leach out of plastic.  (I may post more about her work and experiments later… or you can Google “Rebecca Braslau phthalates“.)

At one point, an audience member asked her what Tritan plastic was, and she said she didn’t know. I piped up and said it was a substitute for polycarbonate with BPA, but that I didn’t trust it. Rebecca said, “But do you trust any plastics, Beth?” And I answered that it depends on the use, but not for food contact. 

And since then, I’ve been thinking… and this, finally, is the discussion question…

When is plastic not “moop”?

At Burning Man, Moop means “material out of place” because one of the hard and fast rules of Burning Man (and there aren’t many) is “Leave no trace.”  And that means you’d better not leave anything… not even bits of lint or paper or feathers… on the ground. Anything that falls on the ground must be picked up immediately. And the Earth Guardians give out free handmade Moop Bags (made from repurposed pants and neckties) for people to carry with them to pick up Moop wherever they see it.

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On the playa, even natural, biodegradable materials are Moop because they can become the basis for the creation of dunes, or “playa serpents,” that can and have caused rollovers for future visitors in speedy vehicles when they hit them unexpectedly.  In the regular world, non-native species could be considered Moop even though they are “natural” because they interfere with the way the area has evolved over the millennia.

But what about plastic? It hasn’t evolved along with anything. It has no natural habitat.  Visitors to the playa bring drinks and food in plastic bottles, containers, and packaging and then “do their part” to leave no trace by packing out their trash and throwing it away or recycling it.

But where is this magical habitat called “Away?”

It’s some other natural environment or landfill where the plastic will last and potentially leach toxic chemicals for a long time. Or it’s an incinerator, which could emit toxic emissions and will certainly produce toxic ash.  Or it’s a recycling center in China, where in the best case, the plastic is downcycled into secondary products before ending up in the landfill anyway.

So when is plastic ever not “material out of place” in this world?  I still use plastic.  I’m writing this blog via a device made of plastic.  My bike tires and seat are plastic, as is my helmet.  And the entire inside of my refrigerator and dishwasher.  If I made a list of all the plastic I use on a regular basis, it would still be very long despite having given up almost all disposable plastics, plastics in direct contact with food, and most new plastic items. 

So I put the question to you guys for discussion.  Get as philosophical as you want. Should we be working, as Rebecca Braslau is, to make synthetic plastics less toxic? Or should we be seeking natural alternatives to synthetic materials? And what does “natural” even mean at this point?

Where is plastic’s rightful place in this world?

I wish I’d known about EcoJarz when I wrote my book

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Okay, speaking of brewing coffee in a mason jar, there are a couple of companies that want to make it easier for you to drink your coffee from a mason jar as well. Back in 2011 when I was writing my book Plastic-Free, I heard about a product called Cuppow that lets you add a reusable drink lid to a mason jar to reduce the need to buy a whole travel mug. I thought it was a cool idea to reduce consumption of brand new stuff, so I mentioned it in the book. But I wasn’t thrilled that it was made from plastic, which is probably why I never reviewed it on this blog… that and the fact that it was shipped to me in plastic bubble packaging.

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Plus, I already have a travel mug with a plastic lid. I’m looking for something better.

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So I was really happy a few months ago to stumble across a stainless steel alternative at Berkeley’s Ecology Center Store: EcoJarz lids.

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EcoJarz come in two sizes to fit different sizes of canning jars. Neither will fit the ubiquitous spaghetti sauce jars we have in our house, but I did find a couple of jars in the cupboard that will work.

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I’ll have to wait until this one is empty.

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You also have to provide the ring to hold the lid in place, but if you do a lot of canning, you will have them on hand.

You know how you hear about something and then suddenly you see it everywhere? Only a few days after discovering this product at the Ecology Center, I noticed my local cafe, Highwire Coffee, was using them for pouring sugar. Pretty clever.

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There are other stainless steel products for sale on the EcoJarz site, as well as mason jars with handles. Check them out.

(I received nothing for writing this post, by the way, in case you were wondering.)

Why I Love My Blender

I’m back home from Burning Man and so glad to be able to have my morning green smoothie again. When I wrote that post, I promised a follow up about my blender. Well, here it is.

Back in 2011, I wrote about hanging out with my friend Mark and watching him make homemade ketchup. What I didn’t mention was how impressed I was with his blender.

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It’s a Waring Pro MBB518 stainless steel blender. Mark said that even though it only has two speeds, it’s the sturdiest and best blender he’s ever had. But what caught my eye was that there is no plastic at all inside the glass pitcher to come into contact with the food.

See, my current blender, a Kenmore that I’d had for years and that also had a glass pitcher had plastic at the bottom that twisted on and off for cleaning.

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I wasn’t crazy about that plastic inside the pitcher, but it wasn’t enough to make me chuck the machine for a new one. And then the bottom started to leak. And the leak got worse and worse every time I used it. Green smoothie pouring out all over the kitchen counter. I tried to think of how I could fix it, and then I made the same decision I made in the case of the aluminum rice cooker back in July. I opted to recycle it at Green Citizen and order the kind of blender Mark has to avoid the plastic in the bottom.

After my experience with the Lotus Foods rice cooker packaging plastic and styrofoam, I was interested to see how the Waring would be packaged.

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So, I opened the box and found… cardboard! The glass pitcher is wrapped only in cardboard.

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I knew there had to be some plastic in the box, and I was right. But compared to the way most things are packaged these days, I’d say it’s less.

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So… about the construction of the blender itself… this sucker is heavy. The base is stainless steel, and when you set it down, you can be sure it’s not going anywhere. There is a plastic section at the top of the base that holds the pitcher in place…

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But there is no plastic inside the pitcher itself. And no removable parts. The blade assembly is attached to the pitcher.

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Well, when I say it’s not removable, I mean you don’t remove it to clean it. You can remove the blade to replace it if it wears out. Amazon sells replacement kits,which is awesome, so you don’t have to replace the whole pitcher.

Compare my old blender and new blender. The old one has a lot of plastic and a lot of buttons, most of which I never used. The New one has much less plastic (only the middle ring assembly, power cord, and pitcher top) and only two speeds controlled by a simple metal switch.

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And compare the bottoms. The Waring looks like it could easily be opened up for repair.

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Made in the USA

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I was also happy to purchase a Waring instead of any other brand because the machines are assembled in the United States, rather than in China like most brands. They do, however, contain some foreign parts. I don’t think there’s any getting around that these days.

And as I mentioned in my green smoothie post… or should have if I didn’t… The machine works great for its intended purpose. I don’t need to liquify anything. Not trying to turn veggies into soup in 10 seconds. All blenders these days that are powerful enough to do that (Vitamix, Blendtec, etc.) come with plastic pitchers. They say it’s because glass can break at such high speeds, but that doesn’t explain why they don’t offer a stainless steel pitcher option for those who want to avoid plastic.

Anyway, my blender is solid and beautiful and makes me happy every morning when I use it.

Disclosure: I did not receive anything from Waring for writing this post (although if they wanted to send me something now I wouldn’t turn it down.) But the above links are Amazon affiliate links, so if you order through clicking links on this page, My Plastic-Free Life receives a little bit of commission to support this work.

Plastic-Free Burning Man — The List, Part 2

Yesterday I detailed the outside of my Burning Man setup. Today I’ll tell you about the inside.

Bed

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I’m using the vintage wood, canvas, and steel camping cot I blogged about after my night at the aquarium last year..

I didn’t figure out a plastic-free sleeping bag, and the truth is, the purple polyester (or maybe it’s nylon… not sure at this point) bag I bought back in the early 90′s still works great. Why replace it?

Floor Covering

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Since the bottom of my tent is vinyl (ick), I wanted to cover it with natural fiber rugs. Second-hand would have been best, but this was kind of last minute, and I needed enough to cover a10x10 space, so instead of rugs, I opted for a felted rug pad made from recycled carpets and other recycled fabrics. It’s very, very soft, but probably a mix of synthetic and natural fibers. It was very affordable too. Purchased from Dick’s Carpet in Berkeley. It’s really trippy looking up close.

Food

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Mostly, I got food in bulk in my own containers from Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. I concentrated on things that wouldn’t need refrigeration: black bean soup mix, hummus mix, corn chowder mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, baby oatmeal, trail mix, peanut butter, and crunchy baby pretzels.  And I got lots of pickled things in glass jars, like pickled cucumbers, carrots, green beans, olives, etc.  Vinegar is essential on the playa for countering the extremely alkaline dust.

I have become very popular for bringing a particular pickled item I hadn’t heard of before last year: okra. (Yes, I’d heard of and eaten okra of course, but not okra pickles.)

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Even people who think they won’t like these because they either don’t like okra or don’t like pickles LOVE these things. I brought many jars of both the mild and the spicy kind and have been making friends right and left. It must be because of the pickles.

I’m also making my coffee in a mason jar that I wrote about a few days ago.  And I have several different beverages in glass bottles in my cooler (all non-alcoholic.)

A note about glass on the playa: It is discouraged by the organizers because of the possibility of breakage which can not only hurt people but leave a mess on the playa, which is forbidden. So I am only consuming foods and beverages in glass in places where there are soft carpets. For traversing the playa, I bring stainless steel.

And oh yes! I’m finding that bread doesn’t dry out on the playa when stored in paper in an airtight stainless steel container from Life Without Plastic. (More on this in a future post and probably a give-away.)

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Um… that’s all I can think of right now regarding food.

Care Personal

Sunscreen in glass jars.

Lotion and lip balm in compostable cardboard.

Toothy tabs and bamboo toothbrush.

Homemade wet wipes

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Wet wipes are great on the playa for hand and general body washing, but they are pretty wasteful and come in plastic packaging.  Using pinking shears, I cut some ripped pairs of flannel pajamas and cotton pants into squares and soaked them in an airtight stainless container in a solution of white vinegar, water, and essential oils of orange, lavender, and rosemary because those were what I had available.  I got the idea from this post about making homemade household cleaning wipes and modified it so I wouldn’t have to buy anything new.

Note: Both Leslie of Crunchy Betty and my friend Tracey of Anarres Natural Health caution that you should refrigerate any homemade products that  contain water without a preservative of some kind because as Leslie says, water is “the great giver of life,” and as such, it can breed the kind of life you don’t want in your concoctions. Vinegar is a preservative, but not indefinitely. So I’m keeping them in my cooler — which is very refreshing, actually — and will dispose of any leftover solution when I get home.

Goggles and Bandana

These are essential on the playa for surviving dust storms. 

The bandana is one that a Burner made and gave me last year, and I have a couple more regular ones.

The goggles…

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Totally steam punk, right? They are German motorcycle goggles made from real rubber, glass, and metal. I got them from Historical Emporium. And they were the only real glass goggles I could find that would also fit over my eyeglasses.  I don’t think the vintage ones I found on eBay would have worked with my glasses.

However, these goggles are not as completely plastic-free as I thought when I ordered them. There is a thin plastic sheet covering the inside of the lens. I assume this is a safety measure to keep you from being blinded if the glass breaks.

That’s it from me for today. See you tomorrow if I feel like blogging again. I can’t believe I’ve blogged more in the last week… using only my mobile phone! … than I have in the last few months.

Plastic-Free Burning Man — The List, Part 1

I only had two hours sleep last night after driving 12 hours, but I want to post these pictures and give you the list of ways I’m de-plastifying my Burn this year.

I’m staying with the Earth Guardians… which is part of the Burning Man infrastructure tasked with making the event as green as possible.

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If you’re on the playa, stop by and say hi, leave me a message in the little notebook attached to my tent, or come to one of my workshops, either Wednesday at 1 or Saturday at 2.

Here’s the outside view of my little home on the playa:

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Tent

The tent is a Springbar Traveler 5, which is made of heavy duty cotton canvas. I put it up this morning with the help of an expert named Kearce. But it was me who pounded all 18 twelve-inch steel stakes into the hard playa.

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Here are the pros and cons of a Springbar tent. Pros:

*Mostly heavy duty cotton instead of synthetic material.
*Super strong, stable, and durable. According to comments online from Burners, these tents can withstand strong winds without rebar if you use the steel stakes that come with it. And the canvas keeps the dust out. These tents last for many years.
*Made in the USA instead of China.

Cons:

*Vinyl floor and polyester mesh windows and accessories.
*Does get hot inside without a shade structure over it.
*Crazy heavy to carry
*Expensive – except maybe not when you consider how sturdy they are and how long they last.

Water Container

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This year, I let Tracey use the stainless steel iced tea containers from last year, and I bought a used 10-gallon Super Chef double-walled, insulated beverage dispenser from eBay. The top seals with a rubber gasket, so it doesn’t slop water like the other containers, and being double-walled, it keeps the water cool.

The main drawback is that it’s freaking heavy when full. I got 3 guys to help me move it from the back of my rented vehicle to its current position in front of my tent. Another drawback is the price, but used ones on eBay are way less expensive than new. And more eco-friendly of course.

The town of Gerlach provides inexpensive bulk water to Burners who want to fill any size container or RV tank.

Ice Chest

My ice chest is just plain plastic. But it follows my rule about getting things second-hand rather than new. It was given to me for free by someone from Craigslist who didn’t need it anymore. She gave me a heavy-duty used flashlight too.

The ice in the cooler came in a plastic bag. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to figure out a better solution, and I did want to be able to keep some things cold. However, I did make a less plastic choice…

Ironically, the ice I found at Whole Foods came in 3 smaller plastic bags inside a big plastic bag. And the whole thing is only 9 pounds. I couldn’t do it. I left the store without it.

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I say ironic because Whole Foods is supposed to be the eco choice, right? Yet I was able to get a 20 pound bag from Target without all the extra packaging inside.

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Directors chair

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That is a bamboo chair with cotton seat and back that Pier1 had on sale for super cheap. I did look for second-hand chairs for outside my tent, but I started looking too late and couldn’t find anything. I would like a second chair and will start looking for a used one as soon as I get back home.

Compost Bag

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I’m using an organic cotton mesh produce bag to dry my compost. Tracey taught me this trick last year. The weather on the playa is so hot and dry, it will dessicate your produce peels and trimmings in quick order so you don’t have stinky rotting food to deal with or plastic bags of food waste to send to the landfill.

Gray water evaporation bowl

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The only thing allowed to be left on the playa surface is plain water. Everything else must be collected and packed out… including dirty waste water. It’s a lot easier if you leave your waste water out in the sun to evaporate. I’m using a stainless steel bowl from my kitchen for this purpose rather than a plastic basin or tub.

Girlie pink bicycle

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Wait. I just got done showing you how butch I am pounding all those stakes. This bike is salmon, not pink. I rented it from Hammer & Cyclery. They are an organization that promotes bicycling and bike repair, and for Burning Man, they allow you to rent online in advance and then they deliver the bikes to the playa so you don’t have to transport them yourself. Getting around would be very hard without a bike. This place is huge.

Okay, I’m done for the night. I’ll show you the inside of the tent and its contents tomorrow, including all the plastic-free food I brought with me.

Coffee in a Mason Jar

When you read this, I’ll be (hopefully) on the road to Burning Man.  Being without a cooking stove for a week will mean a change in my diet… but no change in the way I drink my coffee because I don’t heat it anymore anyway.

Making cold brewed coffee

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I think I learned about cold brewed coffee from my friend Tracey TieF (with whom I went to Burning Man last year), and the idea intrigued me.  Checking on Google (because that’s my first impulse any time I learn about anything new these days), I learned that brewing coffee cold produces a full-flavored but mellower, less bitter cup.

Some people use a French press to make cold brewed coffee, and in fact Frieling makes one that is entirely plastic-free.
Impulsively, I almost bought one a couple of weeks ago, but I thought better of it in time to cancel the order.  Because despite some of the products I have endorsed, my plastic-free life is not about buying a bunch of new stuff when I don’t have to.  And for coffee, a mason jar works just fine.

Here’s what I do:

1) Fill a mason jar with cool water.

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2) Add coarsely ground* coffee to the top and just let it sink to the bottom on its own. Different people recommend different proportions of coffee to water. Experiment to see what tastes good to you.

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Leave on the counter 12 to 24 hours, depending on how strong you like it.

The next day, filter coffee with a fine metal sieve into your cup.  I use a mesh tea infuser. This is why it’s important to grind the coffee coarsely, to minimize fine grounds that can get through the sieve into your cup.

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And that’s it. You can add ice and milk, cream, sugar… whatever. You can also heat it if you wish.  I just drink it black and at room temperature… it does the job for me.

Note: some recipes online call this concentrate and say it needs to be diluted with milk or water. For me, it’s the perfect strength right out of the jar.

Making more

Immediately after pouring out my coffee, I empty the jar (the grounds can be dumped into your garden) and then refill it and start the process all over again.

Buying the coffee waste-free

As for how I buy my coffee… I carry an empty folded-up paper coffee bag in my purse or backpack at all times for filling from the bulk coffee stations found in many grocery stores.  It doesn’t matter what store… if they’re selling beans from a bulk bin, I’ll whip out my bag and use it.

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My Whole Foods provides bags that are completely compostable with no plastic inside. I like reusing the same bag over and over to save paper.

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So anyway, this is how I’ll be making my coffee on the playa.  Have you tried cold-brewed coffee? What’s been your experience?

My Morning Zero Waste Green Smoothie

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Zero Waste Week is coming up September 2 – 8, so this morning I thought I’d take pix of my daily green smoothie making process, sans packaging or plastic waste.

This is also a post about storing greens so they don’t go bad before you can eat them, thus avoiding food waste.  See, about a month or so ago, I realized I wasn’t getting enough fresh produce in my diet. I wanted to eat more kale and other fruits and vegetables.  And I figured blending a whole bunch of things together in a smoothie every morning would be fast, easy, and painless. But despite the Ecology Center’s instructions for storing produce without plastic , I couldn’t manage to keep kale from turn yellow before I could eat the entire bunch.

And then, one morning on the bus, it hit me: I wonder if you could freeze it raw.  I Googled “how to freeze raw kale” and bingo, there were instructions. I just had to figure out how to do it without Ziploc bags.

First, I washed and spun the kale and then cut it into pieces and laid them out on a tray in my freezer to freeze individually so they wouldn’t stick together after I put them all together in a container.

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But a few days later, talking to Michael’s sister, I found out the individual freezing step is unnecessary. If you chop it up well, you can just break off pieces when you take it out.

My substitute for Ziploc bags? Life Without Plastic’s airtight glass containers. They work great. Pack the kale in pretty tight. As long as you’re eating it within a week or so, you don’t have to worry about freezer burn. I haven’t experimented to see how long it will last this way.  But frozen raw kale is great in a smoothie.

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So, here’s how I put my smoothie together without packaging waste:

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*Farmers market fruit without sticker or packaging (apple this morning, but just about any kind of fruit will work)

*Revive kombucha — Revive is a Bay Area company that sells live kombucha in returnable glass bottles that they refill. Kombucha tastes great in the morning and is great for the digestive system.

*Sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and cashews bought from Whole Foods bulk bins in my own glass jars

*Frozen kale

I put the first 5 ingredients in the blender

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and blend for about 2 minutes.

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Then I add the kale from the hole in the rubber lid and keep blending for about another 3 minutes so it’s really smooth.

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Then pour and drink it down.

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Cleaning up is super easy because I have the best blender ever. The glass pitcher and blade mechanism are all one piece, so there’s nothing to unscrew and no plastic in contact with my food. Just rinse it out immediately and its ready for the next day.

What blender is that, you ask? Patience. I’ll write about that in another post.

Visit http://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk to sign up for Zero Waste Week to pledge support, receive helpful emails, and win prizes.

Brush With Bamboo is my new favorite toothbrush

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After reading my blog, and especially the review of several different eco-friendly toothbrushes, Rohit Kumar and his friend Rohit Sahdev were inspired to create the perfect plastic-free toothbrush. While they haven’t yet found a way to create a brush that is completely plastic-free, they’re getting close. Their company is called Brush With Bamboo, and I’ve really been enjoying using the various toothbrush incarnations they’ve developed over the past year and observing the Rohits’ efforts to create a brush whose materials and packaging are more and more sustainable.  I gave Ro K. lots of feedback and suggestions, and he listened and took action.  THAT is the kind of person/company I want to support!

The Handle

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I love the curved handle on the brush as well as the length. The one in the picture on the right is the earliest version. It’s more curved. But to achieve that effect, it had to be made out of several pieces of bamboo bonded together. Rohit Kumar says that he couldn’t get a guarantee that the adhesive was plastic-free and non-toxic, so in the second version, he opted for a brush that is slightly less curved and a bit thinner but made from one solid piece of bamboo. But compared to the handle of the Environmental Toothbrush that I reviewed in my previous post, it’s much more comfortable to hold and is longer as well.

When considering other bamboo toothbrushes or other bamboo products for that matter, consider the shape and size. If they are solid and round or thick, they are probably several pieces held together with some kind of glue. Just something to keep in mind as other toothbrushes come on the market.

Bristles

The bristles, too, are curved, which is really nice compared to that other brush. The bristles, however, are not plastic-free. They are made of nylon. So far, no one has been able to come up with bristles that are both plastic- and animal-free.  Rohit’s original brush included bamboo and tea fibers combined with the nylon, but he received feedback that the bristles wore out too soon, so in version 2 he eliminated those fibers.  I would love someone to come up with the perfect natural toothbrush bristle fibers. Please keep trying!

The Packaging

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The box is made of recycled paper, and does not contain any glue. It’s held together by tabs instead of adhesive. Rohit says that’s a real concern when choosing cardboard boxes. The box also has empty window cutouts instead of plastic windows.

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Inside the box, the brush is wrapped in a corn-based compostable plastic wrapper. Ro even sent me the certification to prove it.

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I expressed my concern about the wrapper to Ro. I’m not a big fan of these corn-based plastics because growing corn has a huge environmental impact and most of it is GMO.  Also, these plastics require an industrial composting facility to break down.

I suggested using a cellulose wrapper instead, and Ro has told me he has sourced such a wrapper and will try it in the next iteration of the brush.  He even mentions it in the FAQ on his website.

The Brush with Bamboo website also has information about proper disposal of the toothbrush once it wears out (including clever ways to reuse the handle) and other environmental information.

Made in China

Yes, these toothbrushes are made in China. So are the Environmental Toothbrushes. Bamboo grows like crazy in China. Ro has been there to visit the facility where the toothbrushes are made. He’s confident the conditions are good because he’s seen it with his own eyes and posted pictures of the facility and management on the website. Check out the photos of the visit and descriptions of seeking out more sustainable packaging.

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Clean Planetware

Developing sustainable products runs in the family. Ro’s dad sells a line of reusable stainless steel food containers and dinnerware called Clean Planetware to encourage people to avoid disposable restaurant packaging.

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09/28/2013 UPDATE: Brush with Bamboo is offering a DISCOUNT to My Plastic-Free Life readers. Use discount code ‘myplasticfreelife’ (needs to be lowercase) for 15% OFF + Free Shipping on anything they sell.

This Blog Is Going to Change. For the Better — I Hope.

change-ahead-signHave you noticed I don’t blog much anymore?  I’m averaging about two posts a month, and I’ve been feeling like I’m letting my readers down.   (For those of you subscribed to the Show Your Plastic Challenge posts or Community Discussion Group, it may seem like you receive a lot from me, but those posts are written by other people — other awesome, involved, engaged people.  You guys rock!)

So I’ve been doing some thinking (which is not in itself news, by the way.)  I’ve been pondering why I am blogging so little lately.  It’s true that I am incredibly busy these days — with activist work, giving talks, maintaining my accounting job, having a life.  I have a list of about 50 blog posts that I would love to write, and no time to actually sit down and write them.  Because blog posts generally take me at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted time, if not more, to put together.  (Some posts take all day.)  And finding large chunks of available time is hard when I’d rather actually be DOING things than writing about them.

But what if my posts didn’t always have to be long, and detailed, with beautifully edited images, and proofread a gazillion times?  What if I just upload quick images and thoughts that occur to me during the day, when I’m marveling at how awesome my bamboo toothbrush is, or trying a new plastic-free sunscreen, or experimenting with wax-coated cloth food wraps?  Earlier this week, I promised a long, involved post detailing all of my plastic-free Burning Man solutions, and as it gets closer to the time I leave for my trip, I realize that particular post is never going to happen.  But it could, if I chopped it into bite-sized pieces.

So this blog is going to change.  I’ll still write long, well-researched posts when I have the time.  But I’m going to start posting shorter snippets showing what plastic-free living looks like in real life — as soon as the inspiration hits me.  They won’t be perfect.  But they will be real.  I’ll probably start tomorrow morning.  But we’ll see.

If you are subscribed to Daily Posts, you’ll still only receive one email per day, which may contain multiple short posts.  So don’t worry about getting inundated with messages.  It’s not going to happen.

We’ll see how it goes.  I have soooo much information to share.  I hope this method will allow me to do that without feeling overwhelmed.  Thank you for all your support over the years!

Beth