Six years ago, Michael and I got a notice that a Trader Joe’s grocery store was going to be opening down the street from our house. This was back before I had woken up to the problems with plastic, and the news thrilled me. I had visions of all the fresh salads I was going to buy on my way to work every day. And then a few months later, I saw a photo of a dead albatross chick filled with plastic, and I started attempting to live plastic-free. By the time the new Trader Joe’s opened, I could no longer shop there. The only department where I could find anything not packaged in plastic was the liquor aisle.
What seemed to be the most egregious misuse of plastic was in the produce aisle. While most grocery stores–even mainstream stores like Safeway–carried loose produce, Trader Joe’s seemed to only sell produce in plastic-wrapped multi-packs or plastic net bags. And while some of its produce containers were made from PLA, a compostable… Read the rest
It’s frustrating when electronic gadgets break, and not just because you have to go through the hassle of fixing or replacing them but because in doing so, a lot of waste is created. So when the headphone jack on my phone stopped working intermittently, I put off doing anything about it for several months. But finally, it got so bad that I could no longer use my headset, which meant an extra dose of radiation from putting my phone right against my head to talk (and of course, also not being able to listen to music and podcasts, but that’s a personal problem), so I decided it was time to do something about it.
I called CREDO Mobile, my phone provider, and was told I’d have to send it back to them for a replacement phone. I wondered if I should scout around for someone to open it up and try to fix it for me (as I did with my hair dryer, rice cooker, kitchen scale, and other appliances, with varying degrees of success), but when CREDO told me that opening… Read the rest
Wouldn’t it be nice if restaurant servers asked if you wanted a straw before sticking one in your drink automatically? Right now, it’s up to us to refuse those straws ahead of time. And sometimes, we have to ask more than once for our request to be remembered and fulfilled.
That’s one of the reasons I carry a Glass Dharma glass drinking straw with me wherever I go. Whipping out my straw is a memorable way to get the server’s attention and sometimes to start a conversation about the environmental impact of plastic. I also have sensitive teeth, so drinking cold beverages through a straw is just easier. Some of you have mentioned that you don’t need any straw at all. So let’s tell restaurants to quit giving them to us!
1) Choose your restaurant(s) to write to. Any restaurant. Preferably one(s) you frequent and that you have noticed gives out unwrapped straws automatically.
2) Write a snail mail letter. … Read the rest
I’ve been looking for a webcam for a while because I want to be able to meet with people via Skype rather than travel to meet up in person. I’ve done way too much flying this year, and all those emissions are weighing hard on my conscience.
I hoped to find a secondhand webcam rather than buying a new one. But after an unfortunate incident with a Radio Shack employee last month, I ended up with a $20 store credit and nothing else to spend it on. So I applied the credit toward the purchase of a very basic Logitech webcam.
Check out what Arya and I found when I got home and opened the box:
The camera, install disk, and instruction manual together weigh 4.3 ounces. The packaging material weighs 4.4 ounces — more than the product itself! The plastic window will be added to my tally in September. The cardboard box will go into the recycling bin. But I can’t let that be the end of the story. Some small amounts of packaging are unavoidable,… Read the rest
I’m sick at heart this morning. I was going to write a post about how empowered I felt after taking my washing machine apart and putting it back together again. But I’m too upset by the actions of the California senate this morning to give a crap about that.
Last night, I fell asleep in my living room chair while watching episodes of Ugly Betty on DVD. Early this morning, Michael woke me up with some ugly news: California legislators struck down AB1998, the California plastic bag ban bill that so many of us have been excited about.
I wrote about AB1998 back in May right before it passed the California Assembly. I was so full of hope. The bill looked like it would go all the way. Even the governator had committed to signing it. But the American Chemistry Council spent these last few weeks buying politicians and releasing scary commercials (full of lies) to convince voters and legislators that banning plastic bags would pretty… Read the rest
I love Ellen, but I want her to dump her bottled water advertising contracts. Please join the new Facebook Group (appropriately named Tell Ellen Degeneres To Dump Bottled Water Advertising!) created by Julie Borst of PlasticlessNYC and tell Ellen that bottled water sucks. Then, ask all your friends to join the group.
In addition to joining the group, check out Juli’s list of ways to contact Ellen and make your voice heard.
Ellen is not the first celeb to promote bottled water. Jennifer Aniston’s been doing it for years. The Filtered Files, the blog from the air and water filter company Filter Fast, has a list of other celebs with bottled water contracts. But Ellen’s support of Vitaminwater Zero is particularly disappointing to me because of her pro-environment, pro-animal lifestyle.
In fact, Ellen’s reasons for going vegan are the same reasons she should shun bottled water:
1) Living a Cruelty-free Lifestyle
Eating… Read the rest
11/09/2016 Update: Six years after this post was written, California has FINALLY banned plastic bags across the state!
I’m pissed off. I live in a city, like many others in California, that wants to ban plastic shopping bags, but we can’t. Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and other California cities are under attack by the plastics industry. None of these cities has been able to put their plastic bag bans into effect because of industry deep pockets that have successfully sued to require each city to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) showing that banning plastic bags would not have a detrimental impact.
Our cities cannot afford to spend $150,000 to $200,000 each to conduct EIRs. That’s why nothing has come of Oakland’s bag ban or any of the others. My city can’t afford to keep enough cops on the streets (just ask Michael, who got mugged several months ago right across from our house),… Read the rest
OMG. You won’t believe what happened Friday. I still don’t believe it myself. Here’s the story.
After hassling with Valley Yellow Pages (not to be confused with AT&T Yellow Pages) last year to be taken off their automatic delivery list, I was finally assured that I would no longer receive their unwanted plastic-bagged phone books. So you can imagine how irritated I was when a new one showed up on my doorstep last week.
Immediately, I sent the following caustic email. I was irritated and probably hormonal. I usually prefer to catch my flies with sugar, despite being a mosquito in their bedrooms. But hey, no one’s perfect.… Read the rest
Have you ever written a letter to the editor? It’s something each of us could do, and with the Internet, it’s easier than ever. So why was last month the first time I ever tried it? Oh sure, I leave comments on blogs and online newspaper web sites, but I had never sent a letter to be published in print until the article “An Ocean of Plastic” appeared in the October 29, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places.
Now, we’re not talking about a couple of small paragraphs. Kitt Doucette’s article about Captain Charles Moore, the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the problems of plastic pollution is a 4-page spread in the center of the magazine, right after Madonna. I wish I could link to it so you can read it for yourself. Unfortunately, Rolling Stone doesn’t publish all its articles online. At this point, the only way to read it is to buy a back issue.
So anyway, it’s a great … Read the rest
Let me apologize in advance for any sarcasm you might detect in this letter. It’s late, and I’ve been losing sleep for about two years, basically working for free to wake people up to the environmental crises we face. So you can imagine that I’m a little bit cranky. And maybe just a little bit jaded by big box companies that profess to be going green, when “Big Box” seems to be the antithesis of green.
Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart. You are big and muscly. And now you want to use your muscle to demand sustainable practices from your vendors. You have created a brand new Sustainability Index (PDF), despite the fact that many third party standards already exist.
But what are the standards you are pushing? And who gets to decide what they should be?
Your new Sustainability Index… oh, sorry. It’s not Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index. It belongs to the world. According to Rand Waddoups,… Read the rest