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  We have, in fact, looked in to foil and wax caps because of our concern for plastic, but found that they are outdated and no longer meet food safety requirements, so they are not an option for us at this time.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

Regards,

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

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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.’

‘GOOD IDEA!’

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: 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!



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

www.AnniesNaturals.com

1-800-2881089

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.



PPF: No-Brainer Monday

One aspect of plastic is that it is made NOT TO LAST. Exhibit A: my plastic bag with a hole at the seam. I could recycle this (and maybe I will) but I am going to hold onto it. Awhile back I tried to fuse plastic bags together to make a sort of plastic cloth that I could use to make a carrier bag or lunch bag. It didn’t work out so great – but I want to give it another try so this bag may become part of my experiment. (The plastic yarn thing did not work out well at all!)

More thinking today. I unwrapped a bottle of vitamins (among the medicine category I had declared outside of our ability to eliminate) and I realized that not only was the bottle plastic, but the whole thing with shrink-wrapped in a plastic casing. Way too much unnecessary plastic! (The company, Oregon’s Wild Harvest, has been added to my letter-to-be list.) Then I realized something else I COULD DO – only buy vitamins in glass bottles. Simple. Pretty much a no-brainer.

plastic and glass vitamin bottles with packaging

Vitamin Packaging

fingers sticking out of hole in blue plastic bag

Built-in Obsolescence



Day Forty: Finale Sunday
April 4, 2010, 10:09 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, Trumped by Plastic

We had to get a few groceries today and here is what we ‘caved on’ first. We bought a package of cheese (more than 50% less than bulk choices and Vinnie rationalized that the bulk cheese in the case is actually wrapped in plastic.)

We also went for the organic milk with a plastic cap (but I am promising myself to make a letter to Organic Valley a priority).

Another movie: Mardi Gras: Made in China. We watched this in the evening. It, too, is available at Seattle Public Library or online at: http://www.ovguide.com/movies_tv/mardi_gras_made_in_china.htm. This is hard to watch – and is definitely NOT a feel-good flick, but worth it. It traces the manufacture (in China) of Mardi Gras beads and their use here (in New Orleans).



Day Thirty-Nine and Six-Sevenths: Movie Friday
April 2, 2010, 9:46 AM
Filed under: Shocking!*#!, TAKE ACTION, Triumph over Plastic, Trumped by Plastic

I forgot to mention Wednesday’s trip to the Woodland Park Zoo. In the Gift Shop we discovered jewelry made from bamboo and seeds. And at the Orangutan exhibit a volunteer docent showed us buttons made of seeds.

two beige seed buttons

African Seed Buttons

Bridget’s personal hygiene supplies could not quite outlast our 40-plus-day regime. Here is what her shopping trip looked like. (I admit that a few more days and I will be borrowing her Q-Tips!)

Assorted bottles of plastic hygiene products

Bridget's Hygiene Renewal

Vinnie and I watched a DVD, Addicted to Plastic, which he got at the Seattle Public Library. I urge all of you to sign-up and check it out. (http://www.documentary-log.com/d402-addicted-to-plastic/ This site says you can watch it online for free.)

It was produced in 2008 and not only shows the spread of plastic pollution, but also gives lots of examples of ways to address our ‘plastic addiction’. I especially liked the scene where he tries brushing his teeth with a twig and baking soda. (Thankfully, we did not go quite that far.)

Facts I remember:

  • There are ten times more plastic particles in the ocean than food (plankton, egg casings, etc.) sources.
  • In 1941, Henry Ford was working on a bioplastic car based on soy protein. (WWII sidelined it.)

One company with a unique solution is Plantic of Australia (http://www.plantic.com.au/ ). They use a cornstarch-based technology and the CEO even eats a bite of a container to demonstrate its safety!

Also Nature Works (http://www.natureworksllc.com/) in the US is doing some wonderful and innovative production with plant-based polymers.