September 16, 2009

Year 3, Month 3 Results: 8.6 oz of plastic waste

Year 3 Month 3 Results
It’s been another month already. Life is just flying by. And I haven’t had a drink in two days. Now, before getting into this month’s tally, I just want to clarify something I wrote on Monday. Many readers took exception to this statement:

Alcohol helps to quell the fear of unpunctuated silence, the endless possibilities of what could be if I sat with my feelings instead of trying to push them aside. Wine especially is so damned tasty and enjoyable and helps me forget what a loser I am.

Contrary to MonkeyJen’s assertion that I am clever because by writing that I am a loser, I got all of you to write and tell me I’m not, I wasn’t fishing for compliments or even reassurance. The fact is that I have an addiction problem. There, I said it. And part of addiction is feeling like crap. Feeling like you are nothing without your crutch and then feeling like you are even worse because of your crutch. And then fearing that if people knew what you were really like outside of your public persona, they would see right through you and realize what a big old fraud and loser you are.

Please don’t write that I’m not a loser! I know that. And please also don’t tell me I’m too hard on myself. I’m not trying to be hard on myself but just to see things as clearly as possible. Look, it’s pretty easy for me to live without plastic… or with very little of it, anyway. Getting to this point has been mostly enjoyable, in fact. But living without overconsuming food and alcohol? Not so much. When “Anonymous” commented on my baby chick post that “Being vegan is so much easier than being completely plastic free,” it really touched a nerve because for me, it really really isn’t. We all have things that come easy to us and things that are hard. One of the points of this blog is that we are all human and struggling with something. And still, we have to do the best we can.

So anyway, I’m not special. No more so than anyone else. I’m here stumbling along like the rest of you. Meditation helps. Walks in nature help, as does riding my bike, when I can get myself off my desk chair to go out and do it. Singing really, really helps. And slowing down to savor life is a must. My point Monday was just that it’s not easy, and looking closely at the places where it’s not easy can help us learn what it is about ourselves that not only keeps us trapped in our unhealthy habits but is also helping to wreck the planet.

Okay, rant over, such as it was. Here is my plastic tally for Month 3 of Year 3. Plastic used up this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 1 bottle of cayenne pepper, sprinkle thingie, and cap. Replaced with cayenne pepper from the Whole Foods bulk bin in my own reused glass jar, packaging-free.
  • 1 outer plastic package from Bonito flakes. I went through and cleaned out the kitchen again last week. I’ve had these bonito flakes (which actually come in small individual packages inside this bigger outer package) for years! I think I was going to make miso soup with them or something. Finally, I realized I was never going to eat them, but my kitties would. So the smaller bags are in the kitty drawer and will be added to the tally as they get used up. And to all the people (RobJ, LisaNW) who think I am mean for not giving those rascals treats on top of the homemade food I cook for them every week, are ya happy now?!?
  • Plastic package of wonton wrappers. Old, stale, and freezer burned. In the compost.
  • 2 plastic bags from rancid oat bran and even more rancid sesame seeds. Also in the compost. See what I mean about wasting food?
  • Plastic package from fresh oregano & plastic tag from fresh sage. Freezer burned. Don’t even know why they were in there. Compost.
  • Bank of America ATM card. Received a new one this month. Don’t know why it was replaced.

New plastic waste:

  • 2 strips of plastic packing tape. From No Impact Man book shipment and Express Mail package from my dad returning my forgotten retainers from Hawaii. Yeah, I wear plastic retainers at night. TMI?
  • 1 plastic tear strip from the same Express Mail envelope.
  • Plastic cap & plastic threads from a glass bottle of Spectrum Naturals olive oil. The same free bottle I wrote about in last month’s tally. Used up in a month.
  • 2 plastic seals from around cartons of Ben & Jerry’s coffee Heath bar crunch. I had a melt-down last week and broke open two of Michael’s B&J ice cream containers. I don’t count it if I don’t eat it. And man, did I eat it.
  • Tyvek wrist band from Outside Lands music festival. No, they wouldn’t believe that I was old enough to drink wine. :-)
  • 7 plastic envelope windows. 1 from BofA (new ATM card); 2 from National Financial; 2 trade statements from Financial West Group; & 2 notices from AT&T.
  • 1 plastic bag of World’s Best Cat Litter. My cats will use nothing else.
  • 1 bottle, cap, & scoops from BalanceIt cat food supplement. The bi-monthly supplement we use to make the homemade food. The only plastic involved.
  • Foam seal from new bottle of BalanceIt.
  • 1 plastic wrapper & tray from HP inkjet cartridge. Have written about this before. The printer will not run without color cartridges even if you set it for all black. So this had to be replaced.

There’s a ton of stuff happening in the world of plastic pollution this month. Come back tomorrow for a list of activities and ways you can get involved. I’ll be Julie McCoy, your cruise director.

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axelle fortier

Hilary R. Clinton can NEVER admit to the world that she ever feels like a loser. and she's had plenty of opportunities to feel like one, nor could Sonia Sotomayer, Condoleezza Rice, Jacqueline Onassis, Barbara Boxer, or Ann Coulter, nor could have Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, or Julia Child. Their PR people would never have allowed it.

I am glad you are not a famous personage and are therefore able to share how it really is for you as you live your frequently-inspiring life, putting your money where your mouth is.

axelle fortier

After we talked about your wanting to be able to write that you have times when you feel like a loser without readers reassuring you that of course you are not a loser, I wondered what would happen if someone like, say, Gloria Steinem, wrote a blog and one post mentioned that she was feeling like such a loser lately, along with other topics she usually wrote about. Would she get 10,000 responses from her readers reassuring her she was NOT a loser? Or would there be no mention of it at all, since no one would know what to… Read more »

Green Fundraising Ideas

"Replaced with cayenne pepper from the Whole Foods bulk bin in my own reused glass jar, packaging-free."

Can't wait to be close to a Whole Foods again! I will be doing the above named!


It's been said that nobody who has stood out for one reason or another is "normal", that is, free from some burden that unbalances their lives and drives them to seek relief. Take performers who live to be in front of an audience – often at the expense of significant others around them. How many books have been written about celebrities in which the title subject turns out to be a monster though we, the audience, love the on-stage or on-screen persona? The person may be in a private hell but we see incredible things take place when this person… Read more »


Beth – I found your blog through 100 Must Read Blogs… By Women, and have just finished working my way through the archives. One of the things I've noticed from reading about two years of your life in a few days is that you have made such incredible changes not only to your own life but to the world around you. It's a bit difficult for you to see, living day-to-day, but seeing the big picture I am inspired & filled with incredible amounts of love for you. More people should have your wonderful nature. Addiction is a bitch. Try… Read more »


I have been reading your blog for a while. You really inspire me to rethink my plastic consumption. I started getting sober right about when you started your blog. Actually that isn't quiet right, I tried being sober for two 1/2 years and accomplished being sober 3 years ago. It is a journey, if you are a real alcoholic then your drinking will be progressive (one bottle of wine a night, leads to two, leads to vodka…morning drinking). There is a saying "Don't give up before the miracle happens".I never thought the obsession to drink would leave me but somewhere… Read more »


Everyone has their challenges. Mine is keeping my diet and weight under control. There – I've admitted it. I'm an ex-fattie (yep, as in card-carrying, over 200 pounds/100 kilograms, kick-starts jumbo jets type fattie). I've managed to keep my weight in the healthy range now for four years, but don't think every day doesn't present its own challenges. Because it does. The key to a successful life isn't being having no weaknesses. It's accepting you have weaknesses and then fighting them, and winning the fight overall, even if some days you still lose. I think you're a winner. Keep on… Read more »

Condo Blues

I don't think you are mean for not giving your kitties treats. I'm a total sap when it comes to pets (rescue dog mom remember?) and I like to give treats to good pets who earn them. Especially when those pets own a friend like you! I'm happy that the cats are able to help you clean out your pantry. But I"m still going to look for plastic free kitty treats because that's what I do – look for and try out all of those little green options. :) I'm even happier that you're taking care of yourself. I send… Read more »

Beth Terry

Nollij — read all about it here: Fresh and Feisty — I have actually been working on maintaining a gluten-free diet for the past two weeks or so, ever since another reader of this blog suggested it. Not sure yet if it's helping, but I'm determined to hang in there for at least a few months to see if I notice a positive difference. And yeah, it's pretty hard not to eat bread, cookies, brownies, and all the other goodies I've depended on. That's the reason I've started keeping little boiled potatoes in the fridge. MonkeyJen – you are… Read more »

monkeyjen AKA i'd rather be drinking

Sheesh, Beth. You could have just said I was clever, too. :-P


It's truly one day, one minute, one second at a time. I quit smoking 26 years ago. Had been a THREE pack a day puffer for 8 years! I did it.. it was Hell..and I hated every minute of not being able to light up… Now.. time as past… I am smoke free! I am now a Vegan for 5 years. Gave up alcohol (VERY TOUGH as I LOVED booze.)We all do what we can, what is practical for our lifestyle and when we are good and ready! Keep up the good fight!

Fresh and Feisty

Beth – I understand where you were coming from on the alcohol…I have the same feelings regarding certain foods. Wheat makes me sick yet I eat it, then beat myself up for "giving in". Hang in there…we all have a monkey to get off of our backs :)


thank you for this post! BTW, how WAS the Outside Lands fest? I wanted to go but we had other obligations.


Huge hugs and props to you about fighting your addiction. I quit smoking almost 6 months ago – even though I no longer think about it or crave cigarettes anymore, there's something about me that just isn't quite right. I'm definitely still dealing with the loss of my crutch even though its not in the form of cravings…I can't explain it.

So, just wanted to send encouraging thoughts your way. It's a damn hard place to be, but you'll find ways to get through it. :)