The last time I wrote about doing laundry without plastic was June 17, 2009. Obama was our new president, and Michael Jackson was still alive (he died a week later). It’s time for an update.
Plastic-Free Soap Nuts Laundry Soap
Back in the day, we used powdered Ecover laundry detergent, in part because it came in a recyclable cardboard box and was the only brand I’d ever found that came with a cardboard scoop instead of a plastic one. Those days are over. Ecover switched to a plastic scoop (why does anyone need a new scoop with every box anyway?), and I no longer recommend it.
There are lots of recipes online for making your own laundry detergent with combinations of various ingredients, but the one that I’ve found to be the simplest to make and work the best in cold water is a liquid soap that requires only 2 ingredients: soap nuts and water. You can also add essential oil(s), but that’s totally optional.
The brand of … Read the rest
Since going plastic-free, I generally avoid processed, packaged foods. So I haven’t enjoyed the Day-Glo orange of Kraft Mac & Cheese in years. (Yeah, I used to live on that stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, with extra cheese added because, despite the advertising claims, it really isn’t the “cheesiest.”)
But the other day, Michael brought home a box of organic quinoa mac & cheese that someone had left on the curb as a freebie, and I thought maybe I’d go ahead and have it, its being free and all.
And then yesterday, I read that a new study commissioned by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging has found phthalates — a type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics — in 29 of 30 cheese products they tested. Cheese powders from boxed mac & cheese had four times higher levels of phthalates than natural, unprocessed cheeses. And other processed cheeses… Read the rest
Two years ago, I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption:
People ask me what I do for hair elastics since they are plastic. The truth is, I’ve never had to buy them because there are a gazillion on the ground every day. Parking lots, sidewalks, the floor of the gym… How do they get there? And is reusing discarded hair elastics gross or thrifty? Would you do it?
So, um, yeah. I pick up crap off the ground and put it in my hair. For the rest of you, please check out KOOSHOO certified organic hair accessories. Their hair elastics are made from organic cotton and natural rubber, not plastic!
KOOSHOO sent me a pack of five hair elastics to try out. Ironically, I had just gotten my hair cut before trying them, so I did the best I could. They work great, and because they are covered in cotton, the natural rubber elastic does not pull your hair.
You can order KOOSHOO plastic-free hair ties from my friends Jay and Chantal at Life Without… Read the rest
For ten years, I’ve been searching for the perfect plastic-free dental floss. Back when I wrote my first dental floss post, the greenest choices were either biodegradable silk floss in rigid plastic containers (I’m looking at you, Radius) or non-biodegradable Eco-Dent nylon floss in a cardboard box. (Some brands like Tom’s of Maine or Radius seemed to come in cardboard boxes but actually included a hard plastic dispenser inside the box.) There was no biodegradable floss in plastic-free packaging.
Times have changed.
Recently, I discovered two more promising brands of floss — one that is plastic-free and another that is both plastic-free and refillable! Here’s a rundown, comparing Eco-Dent in a cardboard box, Le Negri in a metal tin, and Dental Lace in a refillable glass container, as well as a few more options at the bottom of the post.
… Read the rest
I’ve been away from blogging and social media for a few months, needing time to recuperate from the onslaught of attention-grabbing, anxiety-inducing posts that had hijacked my “news” feeds. Taking a break to be in silence for a while helps. So do walks along the red dirt trails or the rocky coastline of Moloka’i, Hawaii.
In the end of March, I went on my annual silent meditation retreat to the center of the center of the center. (The retreat center is in the middle of Moloka’i, which is the middle of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) It just so happened that the week of my retreat was the same week as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s first statewide beach cleanup event. And the cleanup event planned for the island of Moloka’i happened to be scheduled on our only day “off” from silent meditation. There’s more serendipity in how I even found out about… Read the rest
A month ago, a reader named Ida left the following comment in the “100 Steps” section of this website:
For your Clothes section you never mention that the plastic clothes we have release high levels of plastic microfibers in every wash! This is pretty new knowledge, but hugely important as we cannot as of today find a way to remove from the sea. So when asked, I usually tell people to stop buying fleece, acrylic etc, but also to handwash what they have, which at least might lessen the problem… :)
I was as surprised as she was. I thought for sure I’d blogged about microfiber pollution. So I checked. As it turns out, I addressed the topic in the updated edition of my book, but I never posted about it on this site. Fortunately, the Story of Stuff Project has not been slacking like me. They have just released a brand new video and campaign called The Story of Microfibers. It explains what happens when we launder synthetic clothing… Read the rest
I first wrote about plastic in chewing gum in January of 2010. At that time, there really was no brand of gum available that didn’t either contain plastic in the packaging or in the gum itself. And as I wrote back then, even Glee Gum, one of the most natural brands in town, was combining plastic with the natural chicle in its gum base.
Company owner Deborah Schimberg told me that she really wanted to get the plastic out of the gum base, but that it was difficult to find a natural substitute. She hoped to find an alternative later that year. Well, it’s taken longer than she expected, but finally, in 2015, Glee was able to offer plastic-free chewing gum in its original sugar-sweetened flavors and more recently in its sugar-free flavors as well. The company sent me a few packs to try out, and while I’m not much of a gum chewer, Michael thinks it’s great!
Challenges of Developing a Plastic-Free Chewing Gum Base
I asked Deborah about… Read the rest
A question I get frequently is how to buy and store loose leaf greens like lettuce or spinach without plastic. I thought I had the perfect solution back in October 2015, when I posted about Lovely Naked Lettuce. But recently, Stacy from Vejibag contacted me with an even better idea. So I thought I would post an update.
Buying Lettuce & Other Greens Without Plastic
To review, most lettuce, even if it’s not wrapped in plastic, has either a plastic band or a big fat twist tie around it. And while some of those twist ties are wire and paper instead of plastic, I’d rather not generate any garbage if I can help it. (How many twist ties can anyone actually reuse? And vendors won’t take them back.)
Fortunately, where I live, we have other options. Sometimes it means choosing a different store, and that’s okay with me. So I only buy lettuce, spinach, and other greens from stores or farmers markets where they are sold… Read the rest
So, you’ve been reading about ways to reduce your plastic use, including bringing back empty bottles and containers of personal care and cleaning products to refill, and you think, “I’ve got to try that sometime.” (The BULK mobile site can help you find refill locations.) But that means planning ahead and remembering to bring your empty containers back to the store. Once you get in the habit of doing it, remembering is no big deal. But getting started can be difficult for folks just beginning the plastic-free, zero waste journey. If only there were a service that would pick up those empties and deliver freshly filled ones right to your door.
If you live in the Bay Area, Stéphanie Regni can help! Her company, Fillgood.co, delivers refilled glass containers of natural personal care and cleaning products to local customers. I paid a visit to Stéphanie at her home in Albany, CA, last month, and chatted with her… Read the rest
Hannah Testa, a 14-year-old student in the state of Georgia, has joined the ranks of other influential kids raising awareness of the plastic pollution problem. In fact, she’s managed to get the State of Georgia to declare February 15, 2017, Plastic Pollution Awareness Day. Here’s her story, in her own words.
People always ask me how I ended up getting February 15, 2017, declared as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in the state of Georgia. After all, this is a major eco-event and I am just a 14-year-old teen. So here is my story.
When I was 4 I realized that the actions we take today can have an impact on our world. One day, after leaving a store, I said to my parents, “No one cares about our planet except for us”. I told my parents that no one brought their own reusable bags except for us. From a young age, I knew that protecting the Earth started with us. Around the age of 10, my parents started exposing me to issues that … Read the rest