Dear Lotus Foods:
My husband and I used our old rice cooker a lot. We used it so much, that we burned out the fuse and had to replace it. I was pretty stoked about being able to fix our appliance and make it last longer instead of tossing it out. So recently, when the connection between the machine and the power cord started to get loose (and we had to lay something heavy on the power cord to keep the machine from cutting off each time we used it), I told Michael that I was going to see if I could fix it again. But Michael’s reply surprised me. This time he said, “Why don’t we just recycle it and get a new stainless steel one?”
Repair vs. Recycle
See, there is a trade off sometimes. It may be gentler on the planet to fix things and make them last as long as possible rather than replacing them when they break. But if the old things are made of materials that might possibly be toxic to our health (plastic containers, for example, or aluminum… Read the rest
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
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
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 How You Can Too. The contest… Read the rest
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
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 than … Read the rest
Stop what you’re doing for a second. I want you to start a petition. Or at least sign one. Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event when bloggers all over the world band together to write posts on the same theme. And this year’s theme is “The Power of We.” It’s one thing for each of us to do our part in making changes in our personal lives to reduce our plastic consumption. But if we want to truly protect the planet from the tons of toxic chemicals that are released into our air, water, and soil, we need to make our voices heard together, as a group. And these days, it’s not really so hard to do. With sites like Change.org that make it easy to create a petition and promote it virally via social media, anyone can take action for systemic change–flex our “citizen muscles,” as Annie Leonard puts it.
Tell Disney to get the Phthalates out of kids’ lunchboxes
When blogger Lori Alper of … Read the rest
Last week, I received an email from a new Starbucks employee who was shocked by the amount of waste she sees at the store everyday. Many of us do our individual part by bringing our reusable mugs for coffee, but it turns out that, according to this employee (who wants to remain anonymous to keep her job), the waste goes much deeper. I asked if I could share her rant here with you all. I’m not sure how to get Starbucks to clean up its act, but maybe you guys have some suggestions.
Jul 12 (5 days ago)
To: Beth Terry
From: [name withheld]
I recently started working at Starbucks, which sells itself as an eco-friendly, green company to the general public. Since I began work there, I have been disgusted every day with the amount of waste, not only of cups, lids, straws, and hot drink sleeves, but also by the packaging of many things that are used in the store every day. Many things which we sell come packaged individually wrapped, in a box of five (like… Read the rest
Would you believe there is a company not only producing plastic products for the beach, but actually promoting them using a photo of an ocean wave sweeping one of their plastic gizmos, filled with a disposable plastic cup, towards the sea?
I wasn’t planning on posting a rant today, as I’m leaving in a few hours for my semi-annual silent meditation retreat, but I got all fired up after I and several friends left comments on Turtleback’s Facebook page explaining how plastic pollutes the ocean and asking the company to reconsider its product materials, as well as marketing images. I would have probably just been satisfied to leave my comment and drop the issue, until I discovered that Turtleback had removed our comments and banned us from further interaction on its page! That kind of censorship from a company is dishonest and irresponsible, regardless of the product in question.
What’s Wrong with Turtleback?
Turtleback… Read the rest
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