May 19, 2013

The Beauty of Picking up Plastic


Dr. Marcus Eriksen of 5 Gyres, an organization dedicated to researching ocean plastic pollution, has said, “If you want to clean the gyre, clean your beach.” He meant it literally, since “if we stop adding more plastic to the ocean, in time the gyres will kick out the plastic pollution they currently hold.”  But I choose to think of the statement metaphorically.  Spending a morning cleaning plastic from a beach or river bank or roadway doesn’t just remove a fraction of plastic trash from the environment, it heightens our personal awareness of the problem and gets us in touch with the physical reality of plastic pollution — both beautiful and terrible.  We understand how vast the problem is compared to our tiny efforts at mitigation.  Sure, we might feel overwhelmed.  But hopefully, the exercise can our revitalize our commitment to reducing plastic at the source.

Yesterday Morning at Damon Slough… Read the rest

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April 22, 2013

Win a Plastic-Free Book! Take the Quiz & Make a Pledge


Happy Earth Day everyone.  It’s been a busy weekend, what with the plastic sea monster out and about.  I spent several evenings at home braiding plastic bags into a new doo.  What do you think?  At San Francisco’s Earth Day Festival on 4/20 (probably around 4:20pm), a somewhat wobbly-looking guy with an equally impressive head of hair stared at me for several minutes, then held out a funny kind of cigarette and said very earnestly, “YOU can smoke this.”  Really?  Is that how I come across these days?  I said no thank you and continued on my mission.

That mission?  To spread the message that we can refuse disposable plastic! And that there are lots of great alternatives.

Take the Quiz. Win a Book.

I also wanted to disabuse people of some common fallacies about plastic.  So I asked people to take the Plastic-Free Quiz & Pledge for a chance to win a copy of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and HowRead the rest

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April 12, 2013

Tips for Creating Zero Waste, Plastic-Free Events


Whenever I give my plastic-free presentation, I’m interested to see what the hosting organization will do to ensure the event itself is as plastic-free as possible.  I try to give tips beforehand so I don’t walk in on a table full of plastic cups (which has happened more than once, ironically.)  But lately, I’ve discovered some really ingenious ideas, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of myself.  Some are about reducing plastic, and some are about reducing waste in general.  So I thought I would share my favorites.

1) Ask attendees to BYO: bring their own reusable cups, bottles, utensils, containers, and even shirt!

Green Sangha’s website announcement of its Plastics 360 event in Lafayette last month included the following:

Refreshments:  Light, earth-friendly snacks will be provided at registration (9:00-9:30 am).  BYO lunch!  We will provide coffee and beverages.  (BYO mug if you can.)… Read the rest

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April 8, 2013

Plastic-Free Diapers – Change Them, Donate Them


Since I’m not a mom myself, I rely on the wisdom of other parents who are working to reduce plastic in their families’ lives. Cloth diapering is one way to cut down on the amount of plastic contacting your baby’s skin and ending up in landfills or incinerators. Here are a couple of guest posts: one is about a cloth diaper event coming up this month, and the other is about a project to donate cloth diapers to families in need.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

by Janice Roodsari of Momma Words

Have you heard about the Great Cloth Diaper Change? All around the world people are learning about how using simple, reusable, cloth diapers can make a BIG impact on a family’s finances, environmental waste and pollution, as well as the health of your baby. To help spread the word about the benefits of cloth diapering, an event called The Great Cloth Diaper Change was dreamed up and the Real Diaper Association turned this dream into a reality.

The … Read the rest

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March 26, 2013

Meet Ericka, My New Intern!


For nearly 6 years, My Plastic-Free Life has been a one-woman show.  Wait.  That’s not right.  This blog would not exist and would have no purpose and probably no content without all of you.  But what I mean is that in terms of actual blogging, responding to emails and blog comments and forum posts and challenge participants, keeping up with social media, scheduling interviews and talks, and doing all of the other work involved in keeping this ship afloat, it’s just been me.  And I still have to do my accounting job to keep a roof over my head.

So it is such a relief to finally have some help this summer.  I met Ericka Alicea a few years ago after giving a presentation on plastic-free living for a class at San Francisco State University.  Ericka will be all over this site, moderating and responding to comments, posting in the forum, responding to email, and conversing on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites.  She’ll… Read the rest

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March 15, 2013

Invite me to come visit


You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging super regularly. That’s because I’ve been traveling around giving talks on plastic-free living in lots of cool places and meeting some amazing people. Check out my new Calendar of Events to find out if/when I might be coming to your town. And if your area is not on the schedule, then contact me and let’s schedule something!

Give a Talk with Me

Are you reducing plastic in your own life?  Do you have information about resources and strategies where you live?  Then please consider joining me on stage or at the front of the room for a plastic-free presentation.  Last week, I got together with Danielle Richardet (of the blog It Starts With Me), who cleans up plastic trash on her local beach with her kids and worked on getting smoking banned at the beach, and Bonnie Monteleone (of The Plastic Ocean Project), who has taken several trips out to the Pacific Garbage Patch to see ocean plastic… Read the rest

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February 26, 2013

Turtleback Listens! Company to Make Product That Degrades in Sea Water.


Hey, remember my rant last spring about the plastic Turtleback cup holder meant to be used at the beach? And how I thought it was so ironic to name a product for a sea animal that is routinely harmed by ocean plastic pollution? A bunch of green bloggers created quite a stir on Turtleback’s Facebook page back then, and after initially being taken aback by it all, the owner, Ryan Housley, listened.  In fact, he had an open mind from the very start.

Switching to Biodegradable Material

Yesterday, Ryan emailed me a link to the company’s new Kickstarter campaign. The campaign is to fund the development of Turtleback 2.0, a version made from biodegradable plastic (Mirel), a plant-based plastic that is certified to not only biodegrade on land but also in sea water. In fact, it is the only bio-plastic certified to break down in the ocean, as far as I know, and it has also been tested by the folks at the Algalita Marine Research Institute, whose mission… Read the rest

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February 4, 2013

Giving Up Plastic for Lent

Every Friday, the priests pick up plastic trash around the office with the neighborhood children.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Gabriel Lamug-Nanawa (Gabby), a Jesuit priest in Cambodia, who has a proposal for churches in his local area to promote Plastic-Free Lent this year.  Last year, Gabby went on a plastic fast for Lent and found the experience to be not only good for the planet but an important part of his spiritual practice as well.  I asked him to describe his experience from last year and his proposal this year.  Here is Gabby in his own words.

Cambodia has had a tragic past and has only quite recently begun to open up to the modern world. Our cities are urbanizing very rapidly. But as people reach out and embrace modernity, a lot of other things such as disposable plastic is seeping through and is turning Cambodia’s beautiful rustic landscape into a littered mess. Cambodia does not need these problems, and perhaps this coming Lenten season will be a good opportunity to pray and discern together how better… Read the rest

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February 1, 2013

Beware the Reusable Bag Monster


We’ve all heard of the Bag Monster — that scary mountain of disposable plastic bags that accumulate in cupboards and closets–or worse, blow down the streets and into waterways and threaten wildlife.

But have you encountered the Reusable Bag Monster?  Witness the one in my kitchen:

Good lord!  How many reusable bags do two people actually need?

Apparently, I am not alone.  My friend Amber Strocel has blogged about having too many reusable bags.  And in her post, she links to others in the same situation.  Reusable bags have become the swag du jour at many events.  Some of them are so cheap that companies buy them and hand them out like disposable bags.  Usually, the give-away bags are not cotton, like the ones in my growing collection, but cheap non-woven polypropylene bags that look like cloth but are actually plastic.

Reusable Bags are not magic

It seems like some companies think that just providing a reusable … Read the rest

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January 25, 2013

Dear Virgin America, I Love You, But Not Your Plastic Bottles

Virgin America mood lighting in cabin

01/29/2013 Update: Richard Branson responds to my letter on his blog today: Plastic On Our Airlines

Dear Richard Branson & David Cush,

This letter serves two purposes.  First, to express my sincere gratitude for all you have done to make Virgin America the only airline I can fly without crying the whole time, and second, to ask you to address the issue of plastics on your flights.  First, the good stuff.

I’m a nervous flyer.  On takeoff, I’ve been known to cut off the circulation in my partner’s hand from gripping it so tightly.  And years ago, I had flight attendants offering me free alcohol even before the plane took off (and even though I was sitting in coach) just to calm me down.  But nowadays, after a little hypnotherapy and the advent of Virgin America, I actually enjoy flying.  Which is fortunate, because after the release of my book last year, I’ve found myself sitting on planes probably more often… Read the rest

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