A Plastic-free Life

PPF: Baby Steps
June 1, 2010, 10:14 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, Triumph over Plastic

I am surprised that I no longer miss my usual supply of small plastic baggies. The resource of empty cereal liners is amazing. There are so many options to replace the everyday plastic influx of new plastic bags – the ones I used to regard are non-expendable. Shocking how easy it was to overlook them as a resource.

Cereal Bag Liners

Untapped Resources

Also, I am trying a new ceramic cup out. It looks like the usual disposable coffee cup but is ceramic with a washable silicone top and hand protector. (I know the silicone is plastic – but only one versus the many disposables!). It was only about $5 at Walgreen’s.

ceramic coffee take-out cup

Re-Usable Take-Out Cup

I am carrying this cup in my car. Now I just have to remember to bring it with me when I go to the store and want to buy a cup of Chai.


PPF: No Impact ‘R’ Us
May 31, 2010, 10:09 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, Triumph over Plastic

We watched the movie ‘No Impact Man’ last night (http://noimpactman.typepad.com/; We got our copy from the Seattle Library.)

I was a bit nervous about watching it – fearing Vinnie would be inspired to embark on an even more extreme deprivation lifestyle but to my amazement, we were pretty much already there!

With the exception of the no electricity and no car parts – we are already doing the organic, local food, farmer’s market thing; the worm bin, compost, grow-a-garden part; and last summer when our washer broke down and we awaited the new one, we even enlisted our granddaughters to help us wash clothes by stomping them in large buckets in the backyard. (The truth is – it was a hot day, and much more fun to slosh around in wet laundry outside than sit and watch dryers spin at the local Laundromat, inside!)

I wouldn’t mind trying a few evenings by candlelight, though. When our kids were younger, we would occasionally eat dinner by the light of an old kerosene lantern  – just for fun.

PPF: Morning Meltdown
May 28, 2010, 9:55 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Trumped by Plastic

THERE IS TOO MUCH C R*!%#P in my kitchen!!! !!! !!! This morning I went a little (a sort of lot) nuts!

There are drying plastic bags hanging from the kitchen curtain rod above the sink; more bags are draped over the blender and Cuisenart (sp?) on the countertop; and another pile awaits filing away into the organizer bins they sit atop.

Colored Plastic Bags

Pile 'O Bags

To the right of the sink is a black tub of food scraps for the worm bin; an empty plastic yogurt container filled with clean eggshells awaiting crushing and transport to the garden; and a third plastic container of ‘yard waste’ such as paper towels, butter wrappers or non-compostable food scraps – like bits of cheese. Oh yes, and on top of that container are pieces of bread to feed to the crows and a cantaloupe rind destined for Jeffrey, the turtle’s, dining pleasure.

All I wanted to do was make cherry muffins for breakfast – but there is no place to even set down a bowl. My oh-so-sensitive and perceptive spouse sensed my less-than-cheery mood and said, ‘Maybe I should stop my morning stretches and take some of that outside.’


window with plastic bags drying on rod

Kitchen Window Drying Rack

Bags on top of storage bins

To Be Filed Bags

No matter how committed I want to be to living an earth-friendly, sustainable and largely plastic-free life – sometimes I just wish I had a nice, pristine 1950’s kitchen, all shiny and tricked out in lovely appliances without a single shred of rewashed, drying and meant-to-be reused Saran Wrap in sight.

Even without bringing in new ‘stuff’ we are being overrun with  ‘STUFF’! The commitment to reusing instead of tossing or recycling means there is a never-ending stream of new items to process and store – until we get around to reusing them.

So, just for the record, to those of you who say it is too hard to recycle and reuse and generally reduce the plastic in your lives – you are absolutely right. It is hard – but most of the time – not ‘too’ hard. Although, there are definitely meltdown days! I’ll get over it. Just had to vent.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the lineup of former pickle jars, empty yogurt and deli containers, and plastic or glass bottles – all washed and awaiting transport to the already overflowing re-usable container storage cabinet. ARGH!

Cupboard of reusable jars

Got Jars?

PPF: The Unexamined Life
May 27, 2010, 9:53 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!

Tempus fugit! There is much to be said about the discipline of blogging. Not only does a daily Blog entry keep up the writing chops, it also provides a daily dose of contemplation.

What have we just done in our lives and why?

Now that the daily living experiences of our plastic-free-life are past, it gets harder to sit down and write or to follow through on plans. But I have been thinking about it!

This, and the posts that follow have all been incubating to some degree, over the last weeks. So, stay tuned and – read on.

PPF: Naiveté Wake-Up
April 30, 2010, 10:31 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Uncategorized

After feeling bummed that the letters I wrote went out into a big VOID, I decided to try again. This time I would find the name of a real person and mail my letter directly to that person. Wasn’t I the innocent?

Several hours later, I had some unexpected information. It turns out I HAD sent my letters into a REALLY BIG VOID, after all.

The sweet website of laughing children for Horizon products – is actually not the Horizon company, but a company owned by WhiteWave Foods, based in Colorado. WhiteWave also owns: Land O’ Lakes; Silk and International Delights.

The down-home story of Annie’s Naturals beginnings on its website, though charming, fails to mention that Annie sold the company to Homegrown Naturals (not a homegrown little guy, despite its name) a few years back.

So much for naiveté! As of today, Homegrown Naturals Consumer Relations Manager, Sherrie Crespin, will be getting a letter asking that packaging no longer include plastic film over its labels. Her address is: 564 Gateway Dr.; Napa, CA 94558.

Also, WhiteWave’s packaging person, Susan King, will be asked to consider not using plastic nozzles or plastic straws with a letter to her at: WhiteWave Foods; 12002 Airport Way; Broomfield, CO 80021.

More later (I hope).

PPF: Alternative Experimentation
April 27, 2010, 12:20 PM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Triumph over Plastic

We have tried a few new items that aren’t plastic-shrouded. Vinnie found a bar soap type of shampoo.

bar of paper-wrapped shampoo

Bar Shampoo

I was fully prepared to report it was awful – but I used it this morning and it was great. Lots of lather and my hair feels good.

The dental floss in the cardboard package works just fine, too.

Cardboard Carton Dental Floss

Dental Floss

Which reminds me, that string pot scrubber is sort of buried under the plastic scrubbies (I think this speaks to whether we are using it or not –i.e. NOT.)

The other thing worth noting is how many containers, bags and plastic holders we seem swamped with – in spite of bringing in virtually no new ones for over two months.

By treating what we have as non-renewable resources (I am actually rinsing and reusing plastic wrap!!!) we have more than enough to meet our needs.

Now when I wrap a sandwich, I have a stack of empty cereal box liners to choose from (instead of the supply of plastic sandwich bags I used to keep on hand).

Paper flour bag and waxed cereal liner

Reusable Containers

If something needs to be frozen, there are cereal liner bags, reusable plastic bags or even aluminum foil pouches from some products, handy and available to use. The point is – there are plenty – and then some, without needing to add to our supply. What comes our way, when treated as resources, make our needs and the available supply totally sustainable.

That is shocking (to me, at least) and exciting, too!!!

PPF: Murky Moderation
April 23, 2010, 8:56 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, Triumph over Plastic, Trumped by Plastic

Last week, while I was at Camp Huston, on a quilting retreat, one of the servers dropped an armful of plates. None of them broke – bringing to mind another plastic feature, one that is pretty valuable.

Our ‘plastic free’ experience has forced me to recognize that not much is clearly ‘black or white’.  Plastic isn’t ‘all bad’ though certainly it isn’t ‘all good’. This moderation thinking is resonating in other ways.

I stopped off at Northgate Mall yesterday (malls are places I generally think of as being pretty much – all bad) and a blind woman was having trouble navigating through Penny’s. I offered to help her and she asked me to guide her to the mall walkway, toward the store she wanted. After I had done so – I looked around and noticed other people at the mall: a man with stunted legs maneuvering his wheelchair; another man, slightly disheveled, resting on a chair in the walkway, and of course, my lady friend tapping her way along to her destination. What a great place a mall is for giving each of these folks an accessible, safe and warm place to come to.  Definitely, not ‘all bad’.

Maybe in modern parlance, this is what the Buddha meant by the ‘middle way’.

On the Vinnie product front – we now have dental floss in a cardboard carton.

blue and white carton of dental floss

Cardboard Carton Floss

On the Roslyn product front – we now have razor replacement cartridges. Do they still make the kind of razor with the loose blades, where you twist the metal bottom of the razor stem to loosen up the top to insert the blade? I remember getting an impressive gash with one of those blades as a curious 4-year-old while exploring my neighbor’s bathroom. Another not so ‘black or white’ change.

A baby grey whale died on a Washington State beach last week. This type of whale is a bottom feeder, sifting mud, looking for tiny crustaceans. An autopsy showed that the whale’s stomach contained (among lots of other gunk) twenty plastic bags. Yummers!