A few days ago, I received a shocking email from my dear friend Burning Man campmate, art teacher Ann Clark.
You may remember Annie from the Plastic Footprint Project that she organized with her students to bring awareness to the problems of plastic pollution through art. After retiring from teaching, Annie made several trips to Haiti, first to help build a school and next, to do art therapy with abused/neglected children. During her stay, she became aware of the huge problem of plastic waste in that country.
This month, she returned to Haiti to continue her art therapy work and also help solve the plastic pollution problem. We had a great Skype chat all about her plans, and she sent me lots of pictures to share on this blog from previous trips. But life intervened, and I hadn’t had time to post those pictures and tell you about her latest project. Then, a few nights ago, I received some very sad news. After arriving in Haiti earlier this month,… Read the rest
When I left my home in California last month to care for my dad in Maryland, I struggled to figure out how to do it plastic-free. Moving across the country can involve a lot of disposable plastic if you’re not careful: plastic bubble wrap inside your boxes, plastic tape to close the boxes, and plastic stretch wrap around everything. Apparently, stretch wrap is now a moving company’s best friend. In fact, I had the following phone conversation with one of the many moving company reps I spoke to:
Me: I don’t want my items covered in plastic wrap. Can you just use reusable moving blankets?
Rep: We do use blankets. But we have to use plastic wrap over the blankets to protect your furniture. No reputable company would move your possessions without plastic wrap.
Me: How did they do it in the old days?
Rep: If they were a good company, they used plastic wrap.
Me: I mean, in the days before plastic stretch wrap.
Rep: Good moving companies… Read the rest
13-year-old Cambria Bartlett contacted me last year to do a phone interview about living plastic-free. She and a group of other homeschoolers, calling themselves Heirs to Our Oceans, were creating a video about caring for our oceans, and Cambria’s personal focus was on plastic.
Since then, I’ve met Cambria in person and learned what exceptional kids she and her friends are: committed, passionate, and dedicated to preserving the planet for future generations. I asked her to write a guest post to describe what they are doing and how you can help. Please read and enjoy!
Beth Terry is such an inspiration! In being aware of the changes she made to better our planet, I have come to care too and have made changes in my own behavior. Seeing Beth live her life with only one bag of plastic waste in a year made me realize that making change is possible. She is such a great role model! Beth’s blog and book have helped me so much in the last year. I have… Read the rest
In March, I wrote about microfiber laundry pollution from synthetic clothing and mentioned that soon there would be a special bag available called Guppy Friend to catch those microfibers before they are rinsed down the drain. Well, the bag is now available and the company sent me one to test out.
Guppy Friend is a product developed by the campaign STOP! MICRO WASTE, a German non-profit founded by a group of surfers and nature lovers to find solutions to the microfiber pollution problem. Guppy Friend is just one of their projects, as they recognize that it is only one small part of the solution to a huge problem that will require systemic change on a massive scale, not just a few people conscientiously washing their polyester fleece in a special bag. But for those of you conscientious folk out there who do wear synthetic clothing and want to prevent the fibers from escaping into our waterways, here is one small solution.
Guppy Friend is a synthetic … 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
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
11/30/16 Update: Hurray! Despite the disappointing national election results, California has some things to cheer about. We passed Prop 67, the single use plastic bag ban! Thanks to everyone who voted!
A few weeks ago, I did something completely out of my comfort zone. I signed up and then showed up to phone bank with Clean Water Action in support of Prop 67, a statewide plastic bag ban on the upcoming November ballot, and against Prop 65, a competing measure that could completely undermine efforts to eliminate plastic bag pollution across the state. I also dragged my friends Nancy and Corbina along with me since, you know, misery loves company and all that.
What is Prop 67?
In 2014, the California legislature passed SB270 (Padilla), a law which would ban single-use plastic carry out bags and require merchants to charge customers a 10 cent fee to purchase disposable paper bags. Shoppers could avoid paying the fee by bringing their own… Read the rest
11/30/16 Update: Well, so we voted. Now what? Trump has vowed to dismantle environmental regulations. We can’t let that happen. More than ever before, it’s time to get active.
I have to admit, the current election cycle has me wanting to hide under my covers with a bottle of wine and a few choice edibles until the madness is over. It’s been weird and ugly, and I’m sure quite a few of us are exhausted and tempted to just stay home on November 8.
PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.
November 8 is not only about electing our next president, which is important in itself, but also electing the representatives and passing the propositions that will impact the state of our air, water, soil, and climate in the years to come. Clean Air Mom’s Action — the political action partner of Mom’s Clean Air Force — is urging parents to get out and vote for the health of our children and those who are the most vulnerable.
Please visit… Read the rest