Using our own containers to buy foods from bulk bins is one of the primary ways to avoid plastic packaging while grocery shopping. But it’s not always easy, especially when you’re just beginning your plastic-free journey. First, you have to find shops in your area that offer foods from bulk bins, and then you need to find out how they handle customers’ containers. You only want to pay for what’s inside, so the store needs to have a way to deduct the weight of the container. Some shops prefer customers to weigh their own containers, while other stores like Whole Foods require customers to visit the customer service desk to have their containers weighed by a staff member.
The Solution to Plastic-Free Bulk Shopping
San Francisco plastic pollution activists Eva Holman and Carolyn Box got tired of having to weigh their containers every time they went shopping (yes, you can put a sticker on the jar, but eventually, the sticker washes… Read the rest
This story starts with a car wreck. A few weeks ago–the week before the U.S. election, to be exact–I was in Maryland visiting my dad. Riding shotgun on the way home from my brother’s birthday dinner, I caught a glimpse of the sign for MOM’s Organic Market and shrieked, “HEY, THERE IT IS!”
Unfortunately, my scream startled dad enough for him to swerve into a curb that had suddenly jutted out into the middle of the road. (Who put that there?) We ended up with a flat tire and had to wait in the MOM’s parking lot for my brother in law to come help us change the tire.
You’re probably wondering why I screamed when we passed MOM’s Organic Market. Well, growing up in Beltsville, MD in the 80’s, we shopped at conventional grocery stores like Giant and Safeway and A&P. We didn’t have markets like Whole Foods, and we certainly didn’t have our own local organic… 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
04/27/2018 Update: Sadly, in.gredients closed it’s doors today. But please read on, as this company was a great example of the first zero waste grocery store in the United States.
I’ve been dying to visit In.gredients since before the store even opened for business, and I profiled the company in my book Plastic-Free based on a telephone interview and articles I had read about a new packaging-free grocery store opening up in Austin, TX. So almost immediately after arriving in Austin yesterday afternoon, I headed over to this mythical zero waste grocery store to see if it was as awesome in real life as it had been described to me back when it was still in the planning stages. And you know what? It’s better.… Read the rest
Yesterday I detailed the outside of my Burning Man setup. Today I’ll tell you about the inside.
I’m using the vintage wood, canvas, and steel camping cot I blogged about after my night at the aquarium last year..
I didn’t figure out a plastic-free sleeping bag, and the truth is, the purple polyester (or maybe it’s nylon… not sure at this point) bag I bought back in the early 90’s still works great. Why replace it?
Since the bottom of my tent is vinyl (ick), I wanted to cover it with natural fiber rugs. Second-hand would have been best, but this was kind of last minute, and I needed enough to cover a10x10 space, so instead of rugs, I opted for a felted rug pad made from recycled carpets and other recycled fabrics. It’s very, very soft, but probably a mix of synthetic and natural fibers. It was very affordable too. Purchased from Dick’s Carpet in Berkeley. It’s really trippy looking… Read the rest
Whenever I give my plastic-free presentation, I’m interested to see what the hosting organization will do to ensure the event itself is as plastic-free as possible. I try to give tips beforehand so I don’t walk in on a table full of plastic cups (which has happened more than once, ironically.) But lately, I’ve discovered some really ingenious ideas, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of myself. Some are about reducing plastic, and some are about reducing waste in general. So I thought I would share my favorites.
1) Ask attendees to BYO: bring their own reusable cups, bottles, utensils, containers, and even shirt!
Green Sangha’s website announcement of its Plastics 360 event in Lafayette last month included the following:
Refreshments: Light, earth-friendly snacks will be provided at registration (9:00-9:30 am). BYO lunch! We will provide coffee and beverages. (BYO mug if you can.)
And at the… Read the rest
I’m a virgin. A Burning Man virgin. Ever since I learned about the annual tribal celebration of fire and self-expression back in the mid 90’s, I have wanted to go and hang out in the Black Rock Desert and express myself. But I’ve never had a friend who wanted to go with me, until recently, when I met Tracey TieF through this very blog. And that’s appropriate because this year when I go, I’m going to be thinking of ways to do it as Plastic-Free as possible. And what’s more, I’ll be teaching a Plastic-Free class through the Play(a)Skool!
At Burning Man, participants are required to bring their own water to the playa, which is a very hot and dry place, with temperatures reaching into the hundreds and chances of dust storms (which I hear we will be having this year.) You can imagine, there are a lot of plastic water containers at this event. Many people will bring reusable plastic jugs,… Read the rest
My friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship just released a new e-Book this year, The Everything Beans Book, and she’s giving readers of this blog a 20% discount through 4/15 (coupon code 20BEANSBK). I’m excited about Katie’s latest book because learning how to prepare and cook dried beans is crucial when you’re trying to live a plastic-free life. Why? Because dried beans are a great source of protein we can purchase plastic-free from bulk bins using our own bags and containers.
Canned beans, on the other hand, are problematic because most metal cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical. And for me, even the new BPA-free cans are suspect because we really don’t know if the new linings are any safer than the old ones. Chemical companies don’t reveal their “trade secrets” and consumers are left in the dark.
But preparing dried beans is so hard, right? Wrong. While… Read the rest
You guys, I made Wheat Thins and fake Lara Bars this weekend! I actually baked without making a huge disaster. Not even a small disaster. And I cleaned up the kitchen too.
When I decided to live plastic-free, I had to give up energy bars, crackers, and most processed snack foods. Other plastic-free bloggers have found themselves with the same dilemma: how to munch without the plastic, as well as the additives that come in those crunchy snacks.
Well, my blogger friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has published a whole e-Book called Healthy Snacks to Go. (If you purchase via links on this site, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small commission!) Katie sent me a copy to review, and what I love about this book is that most of the snack ideas can be made plastic-free.
Katie’s recipes are very, very easy to understand even for someone like me who is phobic about baking after an early pita bread fiasco left me covered in flour with nothing to show for my efforts… Read the rest
Sometimes all the news about plastic pollution and research and blogging and worrying about writing the Fake Plastic Fish book can throw me into my head, where I get trapped into spiraling negative thoughts. And when that happens the only thing to do is concentrate on the physical moment, breathe, ride it out, and when I get a chance, eat.