A Plastic-free Life

Day Thirty-Nine and Four-Sevenths: Prepare-to-Act Wednesday
March 31, 2010, 10:56 AM
Filed under: TAKE ACTION, Triumph over Plastic

Before I compose my letters to Jamba Juice and Starbuck’s about switching from plastic to paper straws, I went to the web to learn about paper straws (and find out if they are even still available. Yes, they are).

I found this fun story on the Aardvik website:

(http://aardvarkstraws.com/history.php), supposedly the story of how paper straws came into being back in 1888.

There is much to learn about lots of aspects of plastic and our uses for it. Often, there is no answer to the question of ‘why’ or ‘how’ we use it other than, ‘just because’ and when the planet is at stake – ‘just because’ is not really good enough!


Day Thirty-Nine and Three-Sevenths: Perspective Tuesday
March 30, 2010, 10:46 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, Triumph over Plastic, Trumped by Plastic

Vinnie and I increased our carbon footprints in a different way today by driving up to the La Conner and Mt. Vernon areas to look at tulips.(They are just beginning to bloom, but there were gorgeous daffodils still out.)

field of yellow daffodils

Daffodil Spectacular!

While in La Conner, we toured the Skagit County Historical Museum (which we recommend!).

Guess what we found? Glass milk bottles with paper closure tops and wooden thread spools. (Thanks to Curator, Patricia Doran, for letting us photograph ones she had in her office.)

two wooden thread spools

Wooden Thread Spools

glass milk bottle and paper lid

Non-Plastic Milk Bottle Lid

We also saw fishing buoys made of cork and wood. And the Model T Ford had a leather roof with wooden awning! We have been wondering how a lot of things were made before plastics, and seeing this was quite revealing.

Among other things, the availability and mass-production of many consumer goods is directly linked to plastic. But – like the ‘chicken and the egg’ question, is having these products (and their poisonous and permanent presence) a result of plastics being available  – or is the plastic being available (and polluting up the planet) the result of our becoming dependent upon all these things it comprises?

Answers are not complex – but we  can make changes that matter. More on that will be forthcoming.

Day Thirty-Nine and Two-Sevenths: Education Monday
March 30, 2010, 10:42 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Trumped by Plastic

We got some books about plastic from the Shoreline (King County) Library today. The first two are children’s picture book formats.

They are:

Recycling and Reusing Plastics, by Ruth Thomson, Smart Apple Media, 2007.

Plastics and the Environment, by Kathryn Whyman, Stargazer Books (Aladdin), 2005.

This last one is a text that traces the entry of plastics into everyday use, from 1950’s advertisements and promotions.

Everyday Elegance, by Holly Wahlberg, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1994.

Some tidbits we learned: a guy named, Tupper, invented Tupperware and Melmac was advertised as elegant and touted for its non-breakable characteristics. Below is a picture of some melmac used as art in front of the Hirsch gallery in La Connor.

mobile of colored plastic cups

Melmac Art

More realizations – without plastic how would we have had cassette tapes / VHS / DVD / CD’s or even movies and records?).

What about shaving? Are there any non-plastic ways to shave legs (not counting waxing, laser, etc.)?

Bridget bought Q-tips. 🙂

Day Thirty-Nine and One-Seventh: Segue Sunday
March 28, 2010, 10:39 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Triumph over Plastic

Thank-you Central Market for fresh tortillas. Also, thanks for selling your in-house brand honey without a plastic seal on the top.*

Vinnie and I watched a video that I hope you will watch, too. Go to www.storyofstuff.com and click on the YouTube icon in the upper left corner to find it (or go to this address: http://www.youtube.com/storyofstuffproject).

This is a great (and short) video by Annie Leonard, depicting and explaining where our ‘stuff’ comes from; why ‘stuff’ is the basis for our economy and lives; and where if goes (or doesn’t go) after we play with it awhile. Very, very valuable few minutes of your life to watch this.

*Today marks a transition from ‘going plastic-free’, to ‘what are we going to do about it? ’(Technically 40 days is done, but according to Vinnie, Lent isn’t over yet – so we will continue ‘plastic-free’ until Easter Sunday.) You are all invited to join us, using any of the letters, resources and other information we will continue to share. (If you chose to send letters, too – our thanks on behalf of, well, PLANET EARTH!)

Here is a copy of the thank-you letter I sent to Central Market, today.

Central Market

15505 Westminster Way North

Shoreline, WA 98133

(206) 363-9226

Dear Central Market Staff,

Over the past weeks, our family has attempted to bring ‘no new plastic’ items into our home. This became much more complex than we had anticipated, since we had not realized how plastic packaging invades almost our entire food supply.

Two items we were able to obtain, thanks to your store, were fresh tortillas and bottled honey.

The woman preparing the fresh tortillas was gracious and patient enough to package mine in the bags I provided (actually, recycled liners from cereal).

The honey was your store brand, and did not have a band of plastic sealing it, as a majority (an amazing – and unnecessary proportion) of products, do.

I wanted to say thank-you and encourage your store to continue to reduce plastic used in packaging.

Day Thirty-Nine: Countdown Saturday
March 27, 2010, 7:52 AM
Filed under: Home Made, Triumph over Plastic

Gift-wrap and cards. Have you ever noticed that almost all new greeting cards are wrapped in plastic sleeves?

I stocked up on some loose ones at the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital Thrift shop (the one on Aurora) the other day.

Now today I need to wrap a gift (the quilt I made for Jean’s baby shower). I think I will use a large grocery bag and cover it with tissue. With a ribbon attached, that should do the trick.

Yogurt needs to be made today. And we need another tortilla-run to Central Market.

Day Thirty-Eight: Yummy Friday
March 26, 2010, 7:48 AM
Filed under: Triumph over Plastic

The tour of Theo’s Chocolate was wonderful. Unfortunately (for me) my favorite chocolate and rose petal body scrub has a plastic seal (thanks, Bridget, for pointing that out 😦 ). Also, Bridget didn’t want a picture of us with out mandatory paper tour hairnets (no one wants hair in their chocolates!).

We did buy lots of lovely Easter goodies, though – all without plastic packaging.

Day Thirty-Seven: Running Low Thursday
March 25, 2010, 7:45 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized

More supplies are running low (or out). (Not the toilet paper, of course – as I said, I bought A LOT!)

Bridget wants Q-Tips; I REALLY miss fresh juice; and we went through the last of the chips a week ago. And Vinnie looks very wistful whenever we pass a tray of new spring plants.

After dinner last night, Vinnie and I walked to the store to get nettle capsules for my allergies. We brought a grocery bag with us but no plastic bags or smaller bags. That meant we couldn’t get any bulk items. But we are inventive. I found a small paper bag available next to the fresh mushrooms.

On the way home, we discussed paper bags (sounds scintillating, doesn’t it?). Anyway, I said this plastic embargo got me to at least think about substituting a paper bag for a plastic one and go to trouble of hunting one down. Vinnie said we could always buy a package of lunch-size paper bags at the store. I said, not now, because they would surely come wrapped in some kind of plastic packaging. (I will spare you the rest of the verbatim details.)

But here is a three-step suggestion:

  • Best: Bring your own bags and reuse them.
  • Better: Hunt out and use paper bags the store provides.
  • Good: Buy a package of paper bags and use those.