This post is not about whether we should consume gluten or not, but how those of us who want to limit our gluten intake can avoid the plastic packaging associated with many gluten-free foods.
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease, eating gluten causes an autoimmune response that leads to serious health problems. For others, gluten sensitivity can cause digestive problems and other symptoms. Now, I’m not a gluten-free gal, but for several months, I did try eliminating gluten from my diet to see if that would resolve some health issues. It didn’t. But it did give me an understanding of some of the challenges of trying to live both plastic-free and gluten-free.
The shelves of most grocery stores these days are filled with gluten-free alternatives. Cereals, pasta, and even cake mixes come in gluten-free versions.
But just look at all that plastic packaging. Even the boxes of cereal… Read the rest
Last week I learned that you don’t have to travel to Kamilo Beach in Hawaii or Midway Island to find mounds of plastic trash. No, there’s plenty of it just up the California coast at Kehoe Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. And I got to see it.
Artists Richard Lang and Judith Selby spend their weekends gathering mounds of plastic trash from Kehoe Beach.
From a distance, Kehoe looks pristine. In fact, there are some days when Richard and Judith are all alone on the beach. So you wouldn’t imagine there would be much trash, especially in Marin County where folks are a pretty green bunch. But get closer, and you’re in for a disheartening surprise.
Because of ocean currents, Kehoe ends up a plastic waste dump every year. And Judith and Richard come there to mine the beach for art supplies and help educate people about plastic pollution. I was fortunate to hang out with them last Monday and collect some plastic trash myself.… Read the rest
I’ve been called “dark green” by some of the nicest people. I think what they mean is that because I refuse to buy new plastic and insist that manufacturers should disclose the ingredients in their products, I am somehow more virtuous than most. But you know what? I don’t buy it. I don’t believe there is a spectrum of greenness, but rather that we all have unique priorities. And whereas I might think plastic is the scourge of the earth, others might be more interested in cutting energy consumption or saving water or making sure their kids are consuming healthy foods.
So earlier this month, when the Market Place radio program aired a segment called “Buying green, but not for the planet,” I had to take issue with the implication that unless the reasons for our behavior changes are entirely altruistic, we are somehow selfish.
From the show:
ANDREA GARDNER: First, I have a confession. When I buy environmentally-friendly… Read the rest
Many of us have seen hand soaps and household cleaners that contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan. But did you know many plastic food containers do too?
What’s wrong with antibacterials?
All this germ phobia is actually compromising the immune systems of growing children who need to be exposed to a certain amount of germs in order for their bodies to learn how to fight them off.
Antibacterials not only kill the germs that make us sick, but also the good bacteria that help to fight off the bad.
These additives don’t actually kill all the bacteria. Just the weaker ones. So in this way, we are actually developing strains of superbugs that are increasingly resistant to the chemicals we use to fight them off.
Triclosan is actually a suspected hormone-disruptor. Not a great chemical to have in our homes — for our health as well as that of the planet.
What about our plastic containers?
So many of us are opting for natural cleaners… Read the rest
“No Serviceable Parts.” That’s what is says on the back of my digital scale. The one I use to measure ingredients for my homemade cat food. The one I use to measure the weight of my collected plastic each month. So, when it broke, it wasn’t like I could just do without it. And I didn’t really want to find a used scale because I wasn’t sure a used one would measure precisely enough. Plus, I couldn’t find one on Craigslist or Freecycle.
But first, I did everything I could to figure out how to get it repaired instead of running out and automatically buying a new one. First I called the company from which I bought the scale. I won’t tell you which company it was, because it’s a small business that doesn’t even sell scales anymore. When I called, I got the actual owner who said something like, “These freaking environmentalists have really done a snow job on you. There is absolutely no problem… Read the rest
Did you guys see Captain Charles Moore on the David Letterman show Monday night? He laid it all out — the complete picture of what our plastic waste is doing to the ocean and ultimately the food we eat and the climate we depend on — in his usual direct style. I’m amazed that Letterman devoted the entire last two segments of the show to this comprehensive discussion and handled it very seriously. If you didn’t see it, please take some time and watch it now.
Here are some of the main points from the first segment, which for some of you will be review and for others will be a revelation:
The trash in the North Pacific Gyre (Great Pacific Garbage Patch) is not a “floating island” as so many people think but is more dispersed. It’s more like a soup than an island.
The trash is 90% plastic.
The trash has been accumulating ever since the dawn of the disposable plastic age in the 1950’s.
25% of the trash is debris from… Read the rest
So I had another nasty cold this weekend. Sore throat. Moving to stuffed up head. And on to coughing, headache, body aches, and the nose from Hell. Honestly, I was blowing my nose at least once a minute. During the worst part, several times a minute. Literally. And contrary to what that word has become these days, I do mean “literally” literally.
Resorting to Kleenex
By Sunday, I had gone through one and a half rolls of Seventh Generation recycled paper. This stuff is great. It’s got 80% recycled content and comes in a cardboard case with zero plastic packaging. (I get the Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue from Amazon.com.)
The thing is? After one and a half rolls? Not so great for noses. Now let me say, I did consider cloth. And in normal circumstances or for seasonal allergies, I always use a cloth handkerchief. Several people on Facebook and Twitter recommended cut up baby diapers or old receiving blankets. But there are several… Read the rest
Do you know your neighbors? Annie Leonard, creator of the viral video The Story of Stuff thinks you should. In fact, she thinks it’s the number one thing we can do to take back our power as citizens and solve our environmental problems. In this interview, she explains why, and insists that all of us need to be comfortable with speaking up and letting our voices be heard.
I sat down with Annie in her office in Berkeley two weeks ago, just before the launch of her new book, appropriately titled, The Story of Stuff for a conversation with the woman who has inspired millions around the globe. If you happen not to be one of those millions because you haven’t yet seen the video, please take twenty minutes out of your day to watch it. Annie is intense, engaging, and explains where all our “stuff” comes from and how it affects us in a way that powerful in its simplicity.
Some analysts say we have less leisure time than any time since feudal… Read the rest
There are environmentalists who eschew pop culture for its crassness, its commercialism, its emphasis on celebrity over authenticity. I am not one of those environmentalists. Sure, our society’s addiction to overconsumption saddens me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited by Lady Gaga or the Oscars red carpet gowns.
Last night was the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony. In the past, Michael and I spread out a red carpet of our own for the annual Oscar bash. Of course, our red carpet was a long red plastic tablecloth. Treacherous in the rain. And equally as treacherous for the environment afterwards. We didn’t know any better.
This year, Rachel McAdams’s dress blew me away. It’s an Elie Saab made from organza and chiffon. Real silk or synthetic? I have no idea.
But these days, plastic and even the suggestion of plastic jumps out at me at every turn. I’m saddened when I see plastic revered by some of my favorite… Read the rest
Most of us know and are concerned about avoiding the “bad” plastics. Especially when it comes to our food. Polycarbonate, PVC, Polystyrene. But until recently, many people have considered PET, Polyethylene Terephthalate (#1 plastic, the type of plastic that water and juice bottles are made from) to be safe. And while there have been studies suggesting that the chemical antimony can leach from disposable water bottles, especially when exposed to sunlight, heat, and rough treatment, no one had studied other beverages.
Antimony Found In 16 Popular Brands of Fruit Juice
According to a statement released on March 1 from the Royal Society of Chemistry, 42 different juices were tested across 16 brands, and found concentrations of antimony up to a factor of 2.7 above the EU limit for drinking water. Scientist Claus Hansen speculates that the citric acid in these drinks could act as an extractant, causing more leaching from fruit… Read the rest