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
Are you still relying on plastic baggies, bags, or containers to pack lunches for school or work? Are you concerned about the chemicals that can leach out of plastics into the foods you or your kids eat? A lot of plastic food containers are touted as BPA-free. But BPA-free does not necessarily mean safe because the chemicals used in place of BPA can have the same harmful effects. And plastics like polypropylene may contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan, which have been found to leach.
Here are a few of my favorite reusable cloth and stainless steel sandwich/snack baggies or containers. My criteria for selecting them as my favorites are that 1) they contain the least amount of plastic or other synthetic polymers, and 2) I know and respect the owners of the companies that make them. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the offerings out there.
Life Without Plastic Baggies and Containers
Life Without Plastic was founded by Jay Sinha … Read the rest
Last year, I received the following email from blog reader Melliny:
Hi…I recently began converting plastic to glass in my kitchen. It has been such an exciting experience to me that I took photos along the way to inspire my family to hopefully do the same…. The fact is that storing good food in glass is very beautiful, which is inspiring.
Please enjoy these gorgeous images, as well as Melliny’s explanation of how she stores fruits and vegetables in glass in her refrigerator. At the end, I’ve added a few of my own ideas.
I got rid of the “vegetable bins” in my refrigerators where plastic bags filled with rotting produce are most likely to live and use glass jars to store almost everything. You don’t need veggie bins when each type of produce you have has its own transparent glass container. It is also more convenient sometimes to lay tall jars on their sides, such as when you have soft, heavy fruit … Read the rest
Photo Restaurante Praia Arrifana ©
Michelle Cassar is a long-time reader of this blog and committed anti-plastic activist, although I’m not sure she would actually call herself an activist, nor anti plastic. She’s also a surfer, photographer, and world traveller who has been living in Portugal for quite a while. Back in 2011, she sent me a list of the over 10,000 plastic items she had refused since beginning her plastic-free life. And now, she’s helping others to refuse plastic by working with a local restaurant to eliminate plastic cups. Here is the story in her own words. Read, enjoy the beautiful photography, and be inspired!
(Por favor, vá para baixo para a versão Português.)… Read the rest
Three years ago, when Jay and Chantal from the online store Life Without Plastic sent me a sample of their new HUGE rectangular airtight stainless steel freezer container to review on this blog, I couldn’t think of anything I would use it for. They touted the container as useful for freezing large quantities of produce prior to canning because the silicone seal will keep veggies and fruits from getting freezer burn.
Note: I have joined the Life Without Plastic affiliate program, which means that if you purchase from Life Without Plastic via links in this post, you also support My Plastic-Free Life.
The thing holds over a GALLON (over 4 litres), but since we have year-round farmers markets in the SF Bay Area (reducing the need to preserve large quantities of produce for the winter), I didn’t have (or didn’t think I had) a gallon of anything to put in it.
So the container sat in my never-ending “to do” pile for probably… Read the rest
Okay, speaking of brewing coffee in a mason jar, there are a couple of companies that want to make it easier for you to drink your coffee from a mason jar as well. Back in 2011 when I was writing my book Plastic-Free, I heard about a product called Cuppow that lets you add a reusable drink lid to a mason jar to reduce the need to buy a whole travel mug. I thought it was a cool idea to reduce consumption of brand new stuff, so I mentioned it in the book. But I wasn’t thrilled that it was made from plastic, which is probably why I never reviewed it on this blog… that and the fact that it was shipped to me in plastic bubble packaging.
Plus, I already have a travel mug with a plastic lid. I’m looking for something better.
So I was really happy a few months ago to stumble across a stainless steel alternative at Berkeley’s Ecology Center Store: EcoJarz lids.
EcoJarz come in two sizes to fit different sizes of canning jars. Neither will fit the ubiquitous… Read the rest
After reading my blog, and especially the review of several different eco-friendly toothbrushes, Rohit Kumar and his friend Rohit Sahdev were inspired to create the perfect plastic-free toothbrush. While they haven’t yet found a way to create a brush that is completely plastic-free, they’re getting close. Their company is called Brush With Bamboo, and I’ve really been enjoying using the various toothbrush incarnations they’ve developed over the past year and observing the Rohits’ efforts to create a brush whose materials and packaging are more and more sustainable. I gave Ro K. lots of feedback and suggestions, and he listened and took action. THAT is the kind of person/company I want to support!
(Brush with Bamboo is available from Amazon.)
I love the curved handle on the brush as well as the length. The one in the picture on the right is the earliest version. It’s more curved. But … Read the rest
Last week I promised that if enough people would join me for the Lunchbox Project Earth Day Action, I would don the fake plastic sea monster costume and walk around Crocker Galleria in full getup. Well, it turns out I’m easy because it only took one person — Deb Baida from Liberated Spaces — to convince me to do it. She even helped me get into my costume, carried my stuff, and took most of the pictures in the slideshow below. Thanks, Deb!
The day was unseasonably hot, and it was like a sauna under all that plastic. Still, I took one for the team. The event was great. A crowd gathered at the Crocker Galleria and heard inspiring speeches by representatives of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, SF Department of Environment, Clean Water Action, and of course me in my finery. Then, we all fanned out to eat lunch, bringing our own reusable containers with us and asking restaurant employees to serve our food in our containers instead of disposable… Read the rest
Life Without Plastic sent me a few of their new airtight glass containers with stainless lids to review a few months ago, and the containers have been sitting in the pile beside my desk along with other cool plastic-free products that companies have sent me to test. So today, I finally unpacked them from their plastic-free mailing box (Jay doesn’t use plastic packaging materials or plastic tape) and gave them a try. My verdict: they are very, very cool.
(Disclosure: If you purchase products via links in this post, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small percentage to support my plastic-free mission.)
Now, before I get into my review, I have to say that you don’t have to buy new glass containers to store food without plastic. Repurposed jars from foods like spaghetti sauce or pickles or peanut butter work well. And you can sometimes find secondhand glass containers at thrift stores, yard sales, etc. We do all of that. Our refrigerator is glass… Read the rest
Wouldn’t it be nice if restaurant servers asked if you wanted a straw before sticking one in your drink automatically? Right now, it’s up to us to refuse those straws ahead of time. And sometimes, we have to ask more than once for our request to be remembered and fulfilled.
That’s one of the reasons I carry a Glass Dharma glass drinking straw with me wherever I go. Whipping out my straw is a memorable way to get the server’s attention and sometimes to start a conversation about the environmental impact of plastic. I also have sensitive teeth, so drinking cold beverages through a straw is just easier. Some of you have mentioned that you don’t need any straw at all. So let’s tell restaurants to quit giving them to us!
1) Choose your restaurant(s) to write to. Any restaurant. Preferably one(s) you frequent and that you have noticed gives out unwrapped straws automatically.
2) Write a snail mail letter. … Read the rest