By now, many or most of you have seen the shocking viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck up its nose and the team of ocean researchers attempting to pull it out. I don’t normally like to begin posts with gruesome images, but in this case, I’m hoping this video will not simply horrify you but also fill your heart with compassion and spur you to action. It’s 8 minutes long, and if you have the patience to watch the entire thing, it’s worth it.… Read the rest
We’re having a great time on Kaua’i (mosquito bites notwithstanding), and despite the ubiquitous polystyrene foam foodware, we’re discovering some great plastic-free resources. Upon arrival at our hotel, the concierge handed us a list of farmers markets on the island.
There’s at least one for every day of the week, which means we never have to worry about plastic produce packaging because we brought our own bags.… 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
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
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
Hacking cough, running nose, body aches and chills… these are just a few of the souvenirs I brought home from my trip to Florida last week. Fun times. So, anyway, I thought I would recap some of my favorite plastic-free cold remedies.
Vegetarian hot & sour soup in stainless steel tiffin
When I have a cold, my favorite treat is Chinese hot and sour soup. Living plastic-free, though, means that I can’t just pick up the phone and order it to be delivered. Lucky for me, Michael is usually on hand and willing to run down the street with our stainless steel tiffin and fill it up for me. We’ve never had any hassle from either Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood — Great Wall or Becky’s Chinese — when we bring our own container, although the staff at Becky’s once tried to put the tiffin in a plastic bag. It’s got a handle. It doesn’t need any bag!
Spicy virgin bloody mary
The alcohol is unnecessary. I … Read the rest
Until now, all Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles came with plastic caps: either 100% plastic or stainless with a hard plastic top. But I’m happy to let you know about the new Reflect bottle, which is completely plastic-free.
Two years ago, shopping with my friend Ruchi for a new Klean Kanteen to replace the one that was stolen from her, we discovered that the bottles automatically came with a 100% plastic cap and that if you wanted the partially stainless steel cap, you had to buy it separately and end up with two caps. I ranted about the plastic cap policy and wrote a letter to Klean Kanteen requesting they give customers a choice from the start.
This past November, I met up with Scott and Jeff from Klean Kanteen at the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch event in L.A. and learned that they have gone even further than merely offering the choice of more plastic or less plastic. Now, you can choose a bottle that is 100% plastic-free and paint-free… Read the rest
Molly de Vries lives just across the bay from me in Marin County and is the owner of Ambatalia, a company producing beautiful cloth to-go bags, napkins, and other reusables. Her story is inspiring. Please enjoy her story in her own words.
I grew up amongst 7 brothers and sisters in downtown Mill Valley, California…
and am now raising my own three kids with my husband Willem in the original house my mom and dad bought back in 1955.
Mill Valley was much different than it is today. Lots of artists, musicians, and incredible places like the unknown museum, a magical spot filled with what some people might call junk or garbage. It was inspiration to me.
I grew up with a kitchen wall filled with beautiful old utilitarian hand tools and a large house furnished with found objects collected by my mom and dad. Also shopping at the Marin City… Read the rest
“Do you ever get embarrassed?” A journalist, following my plastic-free life, put that question to me as I handed the butcher my stainless steel pot. I was buying ground meat for my homemade cat food. In my own container. Waste-free. “No,” I answered flippantly. “I haven’t been embarrassed about anything since I turned 40.” But the answer wasn’t quite that simple. I do realize that my actions can seem extreme to many… okay most… people. And it’s not always easy to buck the status quo.
Whether sending my husband out with a metal tiffin for Chinese soup when I’m sick or bringing my own stainless steel wine glasses to an outdoor music festival to avoid plastic cups, my actions have provoked both smiles and raised eyebrows. And in the end, do my efforts really matter? Can one person bringing her own mug, water bottle, food containers, glass straw, cloth napkins, reusable… Read the rest