Here are updates to the book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too since the book went to press in January 2012. I update this page as new information comes in.
Chapter 3 Plastic Beverage Bottles (Dealing with a Drinking Problem)
Page 82 There is a new, stainless steel alternative to the plastic Cuppow coffee lid that turns a mason jar into a travel mug. The stainless alternative is called EcoJarz. There is no plastic — only stainless steel with a thin silicone ring that keeps the lid leak-proof. Read my post about EcoJarz here.
Page 86 “…but you can also purchase them online through outlets like GreenFeet.com or PristinePlanet.com.” Sadly, GreenFeet.com, which had been in business for years, shut its doors shortly after the book went to press. You can still connect with Valerie Reddeman, the owner, through GreenFeet’s Facebook page. She continues to post useful information. Also, I believe Pristine Planet has stopped carrying the coconut coir bottle brush. But you can now purchase it through Get-n-Green.
Page 89 Another, completely plastic-free water filter option is Kishu Charcoal (www.kishucharcoal.com). It’s a plain piece of specially processed charcoal that doesn’t come with any cartridge at all. You just drop the charcoal into the water, and it does its work. It seems like a great alternative; however, I can’t give it an unqualified recommendation because I do not believe it has been certified by NSF, the organization that certifies water filters, so I’m not sure which chemicals are filtered out. But if all you want to do is improve the taste of your water, I have heard from friends that it really works.
Page 102-103 Plastic-Free Hero: Jean Hill. Good news! On April 25, 2012, residents of Concord, Massachusetts passed Jean’s measure to ban bottled water in the city of Concord. The ban takes effect January 1, 2013, pending approval of the state attorney general’s office. (Source: http://articles.boston.com/2012-04-26/metro/31400063_1_ban-water-bottles-town-meetings)
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, the Massachusetts Attorney General signed off on Concord’s anti-bottled water bylaw. However, the law could still be challenged in court by the bottled water industry. (Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/09/05/office-concord-curb-sale-bottled-water/49I0osut8MyXh2WaCXc1wI/story.html)
Chapter 4 Why Can’t We Just Recycle It All?
Pages 114-115 Recycling Hero: Lisa Sharp. Just want to let you know that Lisa has an excellent blog: www. RetroHousewifeGoesGreen.com. Lisa is a great example of green living for people who live in rural areas without resources that might be more plentiful for people in bigger cities.
Page 117 Tom’s of Maine has now partnered with Terracycle in a program they call the Nature Care Brigade. You can send back empty and used toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, floss containers, mouthwash bottles, soap packaging, and antiperspirant and deodorant containers for downcycling into things like duffel bags, garden pavers, and park benches. The company no longer runs its own take-back program.
Page 118 Zero Water is now giving a $5 rebate for cartridges sent back for recycling. Click the $30 Savings Link at the top of the page to find the rebate form.
Page 127 The Recap Company appears to have closed. They still have a Facebook page but no website.
Chapter 6 Grocery Shopping (Saving the Planet, One Cheese Wrapper at a Time)
Page 206 “Chewing Gum: It’s Plastic.” Since publishing the book, I have discovered a plastic-free brand of chewing gum. Simply Gum is available in the United States and is GMO-free, made with organic ingredients without any plastic gum base or plastic packaging.
Chapter 7 Personal Care & Household Cleaning (When Lazy = Green)
Page 221 It turns out, micro-plastics are not only found in facial scrubs but in other personal care products as well. And in addition to polyethylene, they are also made from a few other types of plastics. The organization 5 Gyres is leading a campaign to urge companies to phase out microplastics from personal care products. Visit 5Gyres.org and click the Campaign link to learn more about the Beat the Micro Bead campaign and what you can do. Here is my own updated post about mico-plastics in personal care products.
Page 222 Two other natural skincare companies I discovered since publishing the book are Taylor House, Inc. (www. thincskin.com) and Rex Apothecary (www.rex-organics.com), which both carry a range of balms and lotions for both babies and adults in metal tins, compostable cardboard, or glass jars. I’ll include products by both companies in the upcoming sections of this chapter.
Page 222 Choose plastic-free sun protection. When it comes to skin care, one category of product that was conspicuously absent from this chapter at the time of publishing was Sunscreen because I had not yet found a plastic-free alternative. But in 2012, I found not one but two great ones and tested them out, and this year, I discovered one more that I have yet to try. Let me also say that when it comes to sunscreen, it’s important not only to consider the packaging but also to avoid many toxic chemicals found in conventional sun products. It appears that the safest ingredient for non-toxic sun protection is non-nano zinc oxide, which is the active ingredient in all three of these products. Taylor House’s BALM! Baby SUN comes in a glass jar with a metal lid and smells mostly like lavender. Avasol (www.avasol.com) is a solid sunscreen that comes in a compostable cardboard tube and smells like cinnamon. I tried both of these brands under the burning sun of the Black Rock Desert at the Burning Man festival last year, and both worked great on my fair skin. This year, I plan to try out the sunscreen from Rex Apothecary, which comes in a metal tin.
I’ll also mention that these non-toxic, all natural sun products are much more expensive than what you might buy at the local drugstore. So to reduce the amount of product you need to use, consider other practical ways to reduce sun exposure. Bare less skin, for example. Wear longer sleeves and pants (capris pants instead of shorts, perhaps), and stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the rays are the most direct. You might even consider carrying a parasol. I’m not kidding. They seem to be making a comeback. I’ll have more information on umbrellas in Chapter 9.
Here is my full 2012 blog post on plastic-free, all natural and non-toxic sunscreens.
Page 224 Rex Apothecary offers an all natural shave cream in a metal tin.
Page 227 Taylor House’s Thincskin brand of deodorant comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. Here is my great big updated blog post on plastic-free deodorant options.
Page 227 As I mentioned in a note for Chapter 4, Tom’s of Maine has now partnered with Terracycle in a program they call the Nature Care Brigade. You can send back empty deodorant containers for downcycling. The company no longer runs its own take-back program.
Page 229 Since the book came out, I have had the opportunity to actually try MadeOn’s hair butter, and I love it. It has become my new favorite frizz control product and contains only 4 ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and orange essential oil. Read my review here.
Page 230 Brush with Bamboo (www.brushwithbamboo.com) is a new bamboo toothbrush that I like even better than the Environmental Toothbrush for several reasons: The handle is curved and fits better in my hand; the bristles are actually curved as well to more easily reach certain areas in my mouth; and the company has tried to make the brush as eco-friendly as possible by packaging it in a compostable wrapper inside a recycled cardboard box that contains no adhesives of any kind. However, like the Environmental Toothbrush, it too contains Nylon bristles, so it’s not completely plastic-free.
Page 232 Rex Apothecary’s tooth powder comes in a compostable sugarcane container and contains only 4 ingredients: calcium carbonate, baking soda, xylitol, and peppermint oil. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds great.
Page 241 Since the publication of the book, gDiapers has finally updated its website to make fewer claims of being plastic-free (although some pages do still contain that language) and while they are still making claims of biodegradability and compostability without third party certification, they have removed the word “certified” from their description. I have to commend them for making these changes in the marketing language.
Page 242 Elimination Communication. At the time I wrote Plastic-Free I didn’t actually know (or know I knew) anyone who had actually used this method. But recently, Taina Uitto, who blogs at www.plasticmanners.wordpress.com, told me all about her successful experience with going diaper-free. Here is what she wrote me:
I started at 3 months old- I put my boy over the toilet and make a pee sound. Do this immediately when he wakes up, and about 5-10 minutes after eating… repeat. You will learn their schedule quick; much quicker if you don’t use diapers in between. At age 6 months I know his routine well, and he knows what to do at the potty. If he has to pee he goes right away. He goes #2 first thing in the a.m. so no need to worry for the rest of the day (plus its so easy to clean- no need for wipes). He is very proud when he goes. He also knows to tell me if he really doesn’t have to (he looks up at me). If he starts to pee elsewhere he can stop in the middle of it to get to the potty- just make a surprise sound and they naturally stop.I think most women don’t even consider diaper free because we are taught babies wear diapers- sometimes for many years (!!) (big $$ in diapers and wipes). Babies are much more comfortable without- and you will also save money (and plastic) on creams, not to mention your baby from excess products.
Page 242-243 Regarding Seventh Generation recycled toilet paper: After Plastic-Free was written, Seventh Generation changed the size and quantity of its paper-wrapped toilet paper rolls sold in cardboard cases. They now sold in cases of 60, and each roll is 1/4 inch smaller. The price has increased, and as of July 3, 2012, it is not offered as a subscription. Hopefully, this will change in the future. Visit this page for the most recent Amazon link for Seventh Gen toilet paper.
Page 245 and 246 Picnic Basket Crafts has changed its name to Juniper Seed Mercantile, and the new Etsy URL is www.etsy.com/shop/JuniperseedMerc.
Page 246 “You can often find them at natural grocery stores or through online retailers like Green Feet (www.greenfeet.com), which carries a coconut coir vegetable brush, bottle brush, and even commode brush.” See note for Page 86 above re Green Feet. You can now find these scrubbers at www.GetnGreen.com.
Page 248 “My favorite soapnuts distributor is Laundrytree…” Sadly, Laundrytree has gone out of business. But another source of plastic-free soap nuts is Eco Nuts, which come in a cardboard box without any plastic inside.
Page 256-257 The Laundrytree story is still a great example of what can happen when customers speak up, even though the company has recently gone out of business.
Chapter 9 Durable Goods (When Cheap = Green)
Page 269 In addition to the Onyx popsicle mold mentioned in the book, there is now a second alternative which I actually like better. Life Without Plastic’s “freezy cups” stand alone without a big rack and can take up less room in the freezer. Read my review here.
Page 273 Unfortunately, Trycycle Glass is no longer in business.
Page 282 Another site for swapping used things with friends is Yerdle, which works via Facebook.
Page 283 Red Rabbitt has changed its name to GoodPC, and its new URL is http://arrowdirect.com.
Page 285 ShareSomeSugar.com appears to be out of business. A new website, LocalTools.org, is another way to find tool lending libraries in your area. RentCycle.com is now Getable, and I’m not sure what it’s doing now.
Page 288 Looks like New Balance is no longer making newSKY recycled athletic shoes.
Page 292 “Toys & Kids Stuff” I discovered Cate & Levi’s awesome plastic-free puppets and stuffed toys made from recycled sweaters and local wool after publishing the book. Read my review of Cate & Levi toys. Owner Josh Title says, “My belief is that there’s enough material in existence in the world that we could probably freeze all new production effective immediately and just get more creative with what’s already out there.”
Page 294 “Greenfeet.com and Vermont Country Store (www.vermontcountrystore.com) both carry several kinds of natural rubber tub mats and 100 percent cotton shower curtains.” See note for Page 86 above re Green Feet.
Page 299 “I buy my binders and little notebooks from Rebinder.com…” Rebinder has changed its name to Guided Products.
Page 321 Sadly, the full Gorilla in the Greenhouse website has been removed since the book was published. However, you can still view the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV0fP4HuFCo.
Page 323 See note for Page 86 above re Green Feet.