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
Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home has created a new mobile website for finding shops that offer products without packaging. No matter where in the world you live, it’s possible there is a shop nearby where you can bring your own bags and containers to buy foods or personal care and cleaning products without the disposable wrapping, usually plastic, that most products come packaged in. You might have never heard of this shop, but someone else has and has added it to the BULK website for you to find.… Read the rest
Sign the petition to ask eBay to quit recommending plastic bubble wrap.
Cory Trusty of Aquarian Bath (a small business owner and sponsor of this blog who is committed to reducing her plastic footprint) got tired of all the plastic bubble wrap she receives when ordering supplies from eBay sellers. While she has found her own unique way to request and receive less plastic with her orders (explained below), she realized that getting sellers to reduce their plastic packaging across the board would require help from above, specifically from eBay itself. Why? Because through its recommendations and feedback process, eBay has fostered a “Bubble Wrap Culture.”
The eBay Bubble Wrap Problem
For 2012, eBay revenues were nearly 7.3 billion dollars, and eBay now has 128 million active users. Bubble wrap is the first packaging option that is recommended by eBay to every seller. Other alternative suggestions… Read the rest
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
When you write a book called Plastic-Free, and your publisher strives to create the book without any plastic materials, you might expect the book will be offered to the public without plastic. But expect the unexpected. Logic does not always prevail. I’ve received a couple of reports of my book being covered in plastic: one situation is truly unfortunate. The other situation is more understandable. Here’s what happened.
Plastic-Free shrink wrapped!
One of my Australian readers emailed me to say that my book had been delivered to the bookstore his mom manages completely shrink-wrapped in plastic. He even sent me a photo:
After a bit of freaking out (on my part) and research (on the part of his mom and my publisher), we learned that the Australian distributor had shrink wrapped all 80 copies after receiving them, in an effort to protect them from… what? Human hands? Obviously, they had not noticed the title of the book… 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
One thing I learned to my dismay back in 2007 when I decided to try and live without plastic is that without exception, all frozen foods come packaged in some kind of plastic. Even cardboard containers like ice cream cartons are lined with plastic. That information sucked for me, the convenience food junkie.
I did however, have a moment of hope when I discovered Stahlbush Island Farms’s frozen fruits and veggies packaged in what looked like plain brown paper. But that hope was crushed when I opened the bag and saw that it too was lined inside with plastic.
Well, recently, several readers have excitedly informed me that Stahlbush’s packaging is now labeled as biodegradable.
So I went out and bought a bag of frozen spinach just so I could look inside. Here’s what I found:
Looks like plastic, right? The Stahlbush web site doesn’t give any details about the new bag except to say it’s biodegradable. So, not one to accept any… 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
My vision of a plastic-free, zero-waste world is not a singles club. No, I’m not discriminating against uncoupled people. But I am a bigot when it comes to the three categories of Singles products, all of which have been featured on the new Facebook Plastic Crap Wall of Shame lately. The first two, I’ve written about extensively, and the third might surprise you.
1) Single-use Disposables
Think plastic drink cups and cup lids, plastic food containers, plastic straws, plastic packing materials and blister packs and clamshells. Or other ridiculous disposable items, like plastic bags for umbrellas (Can you say “mold?”)
Photo by Jennifer Lawlor.
or hefty bags for shoes.
These are items that are used once and thrown away, or recycled in rare cases.
Several zero-waste bloggers have campaigns to reduce our consumption of single-use disposables. Lisa Borden’s Take Out Without Campaign urges people to… Read the rest