A Plastic-free Life

PPF: Another Response!
May 30, 2010, 10:08 AM
Filed under: TAKE ACTION, Trumped by Plastic

I heard back from someone! Here is the email response to my letter to Golden Glen Creamery (aka Jensen Family Dairy and Creamery, LLC) suggesting non-plastic tops for their glass milk bottles.

Brandy Jensen brandy@goldenglencreamery.com

May 11, 2010

Roslyn –

Thank you for your letter that you sent to Char regarding plastic caps.  We have, in fact, looked in to foil and wax caps because of our concern for plastic, but found that they are outdated and no longer meet food safety requirements, so they are not an option for us at this time.

We will keep your letter and suggestions on file, and if we come up with a satisfactory resolution for this problem, we will let you know.


Brandy K. Jensen

Managing Member

Jensen Family Dairy & Creamery, LLC

d.b.a. Golden Glen Creamery

15098 Field Road Bow, WA 98232

(360) 766-6455 (office)

(360) 661-3490 (cell)

Dear Brandy and Char,

Thank you for your response.

The issue of plastic pollution is so important that I hope you will continue to explore non-plastic options for your bottles. I am confident that safe alternatives can be found once we all see this as important enough issue and continue to innovate and seek solutions.

Every step toward a sustainable future requires brave pioneers. Please know that your courage and efforts will be supported and are appreciated.

Thank You,

Roslyn Duffy


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: A response!
May 5, 2010, 9:23 AM
Filed under: TAKE ACTION, Uncategorized

I got a response to one of my letters. I had written to Central Market thanking them for packaging my tortillas in the recycled bags I supplied (I wrote a second time to an actual person) and for not using a band of plastic to seal their store brand honey. Here is their response:


I wanted to thank you for your letters. I shared your story about the tortillas with the bakery department and commended them on meeting your request to bag them in your own bag. I was so happy to hear the story. I shared part of your letter at our quarterly department meeting as the topic on the table was sustainability and living up to our Core Value of Environmental Stewardship.

Thank you so much for the feedback.

Joel Larway

Store Director

Shoreline Central Market

Joel Larway <jlarway@tc-markets.com>

Hooray! Let’s hope this plants some seeds and reverberates.

I also sent the blog info to Danny Westneat (dwestneat@seattletimes.com) (206-464-2086) telling him about our experience and this blog plasticfreelife.wordpress.com). If you want to recommend he look into what we have done / are doing, feel free to email or call him, too.

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: ‘Hummingbird Heroes Hall of Fame’
April 22, 2010, 9:36 AM
Filed under: TAKE ACTION, Triumph over Plastic

We watched the move ‘Dirt’ on PBS the other night (really good one!). In one segment a woman from Africa tells a story (folktale, I believe) about a fire in the forest.

As the flames raged, all of the animals of the forest gathered and stared in dismay. They felt helpless and overwhelmed. All, except the hummingbird, that is.

She saw those huge flames and flew with all her speed to the river, gathered a droplet of water into her beak, and flew back to drizzle it onto the roaring fire. She did this again and again.

After awhile, one of the other animals (an elephant perhaps?) approached her and asked why she was doing it? What difference could she make? ‘Well,’ she said.

“I’m doing the best I can.”

I like that hummingbird’s attitude. It gave be a boost of encouragement. So far I have written 4 letters, and not even the one thanking Central Market for some of their practices has been acknowledged. It does feel futile – but

‘I’m doing the best I can.’

Today I read about a woman (88 years old) who went from restaurant to restaurant in her home community of Vashon Island, slowly persuading owners to stop using Styrofoam take-out containers.  Not only did many of them change practices voluntarily, the Island’s governing council has now passed a law limiting Styrofoam use.

(In the children’s book, Global Citizenship: Living Sustainably, Susan Watson says the length of time it takes for Styrofoam to decompose is: NEVER!

(On page 15 she gives the decomposition time of lots of things: an orange peel – 6 months; plastic drink bottles – 450 years!!!))

So, as of today – I am starting the

Hummingbird Heroes Hall of Fame’.

To get on it – you only have to

‘do the best you can.’

Please join.

Let me know what your tiny droplet is so we can all celebrate with you!

Hurrah for Hummingbirds!

PPF: Inspirational Wednesday

Someone out there is really taking recycling seriously (Vinnie, don’t get any ideas!).

Today I read about David de Rothschild, who has embarked on a trip across the Pacific Ocean, sailing in a boat made of 12,000 plastic bottles. He left from San Francisco, with a final destination of Sydney, Australia – 4100 miles away. His theory is that instead of (or in addition to) recycling, we need to design products for reuse (maybe I am on to something with ironing that bag with a hole in it into a piece of usable plastic ‘cloth!).

So far on the voyage, he reports constant bits of floating trash – plastic bags resembling jelly fish and other constant debris (he logs the GPS position of what he finds and interacts with schools via Skype and a website: http://www.theplastiki.com/), but he won’t try to navigate the huge plastic whirlpool, about 1000 miles in diameter (one of about 5 ‘gyres’ worldwide comprising such conglomerations), that forms a floating plastic island out in the middle of the ocean. The boat is named: Plastiki. There is also a Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/plastiki.

Another discovery at home – the labels on Annie’s Naturals products are coated with a film of – PLASTIC! I discovered this while removing a label to prepare a bottle for recycling.

partially peeled plastic label on glass bottle

Hidden Plastic

So – here is today’s letter:

Annie’s Naturals / Annie’s Inc.

564 Gateway Dr.

Napa, CA 94558



Dear Annie’s Administrators,

We appreciate Annie’s commitment to sustainability and earth-friendly practices so we were truly shocked when I removed the label from a bottle of Annie’s BBQ sauce to prepare it for recycling, only to discover a thin plastic film overlay on the paper label.

There is so much plastic we can’t seem to get away from, but this packaging detail is a truly unnecessary introduction of plastic into the environment. Making a simple change in your packaging can make a real difference in stemming the avalanche of plastic that is suffocating our planet. Please change this packaging policy in all of your products (today I found the same film on my bottle of Annie’s salad dressing).

Annie’s can make even more of a difference in healing our environment than they already do. Thank-you for listening.