Sunday, November 30, 2008

what i am thankful for

Hi, I was home for Thanksgiving and got teased that plasticfreela posts much more often than I do. Sorry! I'm here!

Some plastic-free things to be thankful for:

Tap water: I love me some tap water.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
My reusable coffee mug
People who care and are willing to make small changes that make a big difference :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A plastic dieter gives thanks!

This is just a short list of the many thing I am thankful for as a plastic dieter. A year ago I did not know how thankful I should be for these thing, now I know, so THANK YOU!
  • reusable, nonplastic, water bottles, i.e. Siggs
  • canvas bags
  • baking soda
  • dairy products, i.e. milk and yogurt, that comes in glass containers
  • natural fibers (organic cotton how I love you, let me count the ways)
  • Ball jars/glass jars of all types
  • Happy-sacks
  • the bulk section at Whole Foods
  • tinfoil
  • other plastic dieters :)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"A Plastic Bridge To The Future"

That's right, I heard about it today on NPR, bridges made out of plastic.

Story summary:
In rural Ohio, researchers are testing a new bridge made of plastic. Plastic bridges offer low maintenance and long life, but there are questions about how long plastic can stand up to sunlight, changing temperatures and stress.

My notes on the story:
  • These plastic bridges are supposed to last about 100 years (I mistyped years as tears just now-Freudian slip). Really is that "longer life" than other bridges? Don't most bridges last more than 100 years? I'm thinking Roman built stone bridges... Nonplastic bridges need maintenance obviously but they also biodegrade eventually.
  • The man in the story who constructs/tests these bridges actually said, "Plastic bridge may even be greener than concrete." Ugh!
  • There was no mention of using recycled plastic for these bridges. I would be less upset about this idea if I knew this was a way of breathing new life into used water bottles.
Take a listen to the story at:

I am not thankful for plastic bridges! But I will share a short list of plastic-less things I am thankful for tomorrow in honor of the holiday. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A message about the dangers of plastic

I thought I would share this information on Bisphenol A (BPA). I received this info in an email from the Environmental Working Group today. Check it out it is a really informative article about the history of BPA and its toxic effects. All the more reasons to give up plastic!

The artilce: Timeline: BPA from Invention to Phase-Out (

I hope everyone is planning for a plastic-free/plastic-less Turkey Day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The no-plastic flashlight....a candle

The power went out at my internship yesterday and because it gets dark at 4:30 pm this time of year I got to come home early! The power outage and free time due to getting off early got me thinking about what I would do if the power went out in my apartment… I used to have a flashlight but for the life of me I can't find it. So, that means my power outage equipment includes one half-used candle and a pack of matches. I decided to buy a flashlight today because a flashlight really could come in handy if the power does go out here. Well….like most times I go to Wal-mart or the supermarket or any big store with lots of plastic packaging and florescent lights I get that deer caught in the headlights way about me. The shiny plastic exterior of everything in the store kind of blinds me and overwhelms my plastic diet brain. So, there I stood looking at flashlights for about 10 minutes, trying to figure out which one to buy...these ones are all plastic and look soo cheap they will probably break the first time I use one of them...this one is metal but it's $30+....this one is wind-up and plastic but doesn't give good light…all flashlights come in plastic packaging...big flashlight, small flashlight, blue flashlight, two flashlights....
I bought another candle.
A candle sans plastic, of course. Many candles have plastic around them sadly. Now my power outage equipment includes 1½ candles and the Sagrado Corazon de Maria. Score! Who needs a flashlight anyway?

Thoughts on: Acceptable exceptions to the plastic diet

Becoming more adept at eliminating unnecessary plastic from my life has been a process. Much of what previously was necessary, no longer is so. Anyone who has tried this plastic diet thing knows this process well. It's fun! I must say I am pretty good at not acquiring plastic these days :) This has led me to think more about acceptable vs. unacceptable exceptions to the plastic diet or acquiring new plastic. I have decided, for me, an unacceptable exception is something along the lines of the following scenario…
It is 7:00 pm and I am on my way home. I have not used one-time use disposable plastic all day! That means I could make a quick stop and pick up a bag of those peanut butter M&M's
that I am craving even though this means buying plastic. I think to myself 'this is okay because you haven't used your one piece of plastic for the day'.
I guess the reason this is unacceptable is because it is indulgent and in a way it is going out of my way to use my one piece of plastic for the day even though I don't need to use it. I have fought the urge and won more than I have lost on this, but sometimes we all need a little chocolate indulgence at the end of the day!
An acceptable exception is this…
Someone else buys and brings a food that comes in plastic, lets say pretzels, to a meeting, potluck, etc. Then at the end of the get together the person says ‘Does anyone want to take the rest of these pretzels home?’ And I (because I can't buy any crunchy carbs because they alllll come in plastic) step right up, palm open. I inherit the pretzels and the plastic bag they came in.

This is acceptable to me because the item involving plastic packaging has already been bought by someone else. The damage is done. I still won't buy such a thing so I am making a difference on my front. Accepting someone else’s food-plastic (or other plastic) doesn't do any more harm, the harm was already done when it was bought/manufactured. But this plastic is now mine and I do have to deal with taking care of it—booo—to the plastic heap with you!

P.S. I inherited ¼ of a bag of pretzel chip things last night-very exciting. The plastic diet really helps you redefine what is necessary and what is indulgence. Who knew pretzels were indulgence. Well, I know now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ann wrote back! or, it doesn't hurt to ask

Thank you for your email and for your interest in Ann Taylor. As a company, Ann Taylor is always looking for ways to be more environmentally sound in both our programs and practices. In the past few years alone we have already made enormous advancements with our initiative to become more "Green". These changes have directly affected our Marketing, Packaging, Printing and Recycling efforts.

Here are just a few, recent examples:

Product Packaging: We have dramatically reduced the use of pre pack polybags for product shipped from our suppliers to our stores. LOFT and Factory have already begun this practice, and Ann Taylor will start their efforts in 2009. So far, we have eliminated ten million polybags.

Marketing: Ann Taylor and LOFT began purchasing 10% recycled paper to print a majority of direct mail pieces. Below is the impact of this change after only a few months:

1557 trees saved
567,000 gallons of water saved
94,000 lbs of solid waste reduction
173,000 lbs of CO2 reduction

Energy Awareness: We are implementing an Energy Awareness Program in our stores, and we estimate we will achieve a 7% reduction in energy use within the next year. (See separate Energy Awareness Program posting on for more details.)

Printing: We have reduced the printing of the Company’s annual report and proxy materials by 75%, through the effective use of online channels, and for those reports we did print, we used environmentally-friendly paper and printing processes.

Product Safety: We have developed a Restricted Substance Program, which bans or limits certain chemicals from our products and in the supply chain. The program will be implemented across all of our brands and channels for the Winter 2009 season.

Recycling: Associates in our Corporate offices have separate containers for recycling at their workstations. In addition, use of the confidential paper shredding and recycling bins that are on each of our floors in the New York and Connecticut offices have saved an equivalent of 475 trees to-date.

Furthermore, we have established a special Task Force to continually review current practices and potential new practices that will help our continued development in this area.

We are excited about the continued success of this Initiative and look forward to continued growth in this area.

Thank you for choosing Ann Taylor. We look forward to meeting all of your future wardrobing needs! If we can provide further assistance or if you have any additional questions, please contact us via email at or call us at 1 800 DIAL ANN (1.800.342.5266). We are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm EST, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm EST.


Ragan Jorgensen
Client Associate
Ann Taylor Client Services

dear ann taylor

Dear Ann T,

Happy National Recycling Day!

I'm writing because I bought a dress in a New York location for a wedding I have coming up in December.
When I went online to show my mom a link for the dress, I saw that it was being offered for $50 less online.

I called the store to see if they would be able to honor the online discount, and they said no.
I practice a plastic-free lifestyle, which I blog about at
I explained over the phone that I was concerned about the environmental impact of shipping an item that I already have in my possession-- wasted fuel, cardboard, plastic, etc. They assured me that if I called 1800 DIAL-ANN I could request to have my dress wrapped in tissue paper, with no plastic.

I just called and my request was declined.

I am so disappointed!

I'd love to share on my blog a more positive experience with Ann Taylor. Can you let me know what you are doing to reduce the environmental impact of shipping items?


a plastic recyclers victory!

Brita® and Preserve® Announce Filter Recycling Program

11/18/2008: The Take Back The Filter campaign is thrilled to announce that Brita and Preserve have teamed up to create a take-back recycling program for Brita pitcher filter cartridges! Read the full press release here.

In a nutshell, beginning in January, folks will be able to drop off filters at Whole Foods Markets or mail them in. Preserve, a U.S. company manufacturing household products from recycled plastic, will recycle 100% of the plastic casing. And the filter material will be regenerated or converted to energy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Plastic you are a constant disappointment!

Look what happened... broke! (there at the bottom and along the side)

Now what am I supposed to do with this?
I bought this...maybe 3 years ago...and intended to use
it as a water bottle, then I learned about Sigg and
Kleen Kanteen and this got relegated to the back of my
closet. It was great for freezing liquid stuff in once
in a while but now...
Now it is just a hunk of plastic that is completely useless.
I'll salvage the straw from the inside and the sip top. Who
knows maybe I'll find a use for them, but the rest is now
going into my plastic heap. I hate adding things to my
plastic heap. It feels like defeat. Ugh! Plastic you are
such a disappointment-a dangerous disappointment!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

National Recycling Day is TODAY!

But you can make every day National Recycling Day if you want ;)
Check out tips, take a recycling pledge, and get some good ol' recycling education at:

I say we make the next 364 days National Plastic Reduction Days! Why should a good thing only be one day a year?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good sponge?, bad sponge!, dirty dishes...washcloth?

What's in a sponge...natural sponge?...plastic?...cellulose?....yes, yes, and yes. I’ve decided to steer clear of the plastic ones from here on out. A few months ago I bought a plastic free loofah sponge to use on my dishes. (For the life of me I can’t find who makes, but I bought it at Whole Foods). I bought it because there was no plastic wrap involved and I had a sneaking suspicion that those perfectly rectangular florescent colored sponges I had bought a month prior were not “natural” and they did come wrapped in plastic. I wanted to try something new. Well, the loofah sponge (first on the left in picture) has not fulfilled all my dish washing desires, but I am getting used to it. It leave little bits of loofah on the dishes… I still have my very likely not-so-natural polyurethane sponge, like most people have. I have read that many (most? all?) of commercial sponges are polyester/polyurethane based, i.e. plastic. Plus they come wrapped in plastic so I am weaning myself-well I have already weaned myself-I will not be buying anymore. I also have a VERY plastic scrub sponge for those cooking disasters that involve burned on stuff, but as we all know this will last me a lifetime (or forever as it is plastic). So far I have had this tangle of plastic scrubbiness for more than three years (on the right in the picture). And lastly I have my trusty washcloth. My aunt uses a washcloth to wash dishes (no sponge) and I learned this habit from her. I’m surprised how much I prefer a nice cotton washcloth over a polyurethane sponge for cleaning dishes. If you don’t use a washcloth for dishes you might try this. It is a great plastic alternative. I knit this one myself ☺

I also did a little internet research into other non-plastic sponge options and found these:

Twist Loofah Sponge-one side absorbent sponge material on side natural loofah scrubbing layer.

Caldera cellulose sponge and dishwashing brush from Smith & Hawken.

More Twist sponges these are also cellulose "from renewable tree farms".

I’m interested in trying out the cellulose sponges. They are biodegradable/compostable-double plus! Since I plan on having to do dishes for the rest of my life I think I’ll have plenty of time to try these different options out over time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a challenge after my own heart

POW! you can only imagine my excitement when i got an email from the brooklyn green team today announcing their new "bring your own mug" challenge. since i started the plastic diet in june, bringing my own mug is the single most EASY and AMAZING change i have made. no longer do i feel guilty about drinking coffee and then throwing out the cup! (no longer do i drink coffee [at least this week], but that's a different story.)

read on for details about the brooklyn green team's challenge.

oh and in case you think i'm lame for posting 2 re-posts in a row.. it's called "re-using" one of the super important but oft-overlooked of the three r's!

"Why did they even buy me? I sit here on a dark crowded shelf day after day. And then….for a moment, I think my life is going to change. They open the cabinet, our eyes meet. Their gentle hand grazes against my aluminum body. At last! Today is the day they are going to proudly walk me down the street as I carefully hold and keep warm a most precious commodity - the morning coffee. But no, they move right past me and reach for the cereal. Maybe tomorrow"

-Your Travel Mug, 2008

Does your travel mug feel this way? Neglected? Passed over for a wasteful, disposable, one time only headed for the landfill paper cup? Don't let this happen. Because the Brooklyn Green Team in partnership with GreenEdge Collaborative NYC has a new challenge for you and your mug!


Sign Up email and write I Shower Fast! Include your first and last name and zip. Please pass on to friends and make the impact stronger.


Today, there is no way to compost or recycle the billions of disposable coffee cups used in the U.S. each year. That's because cups are lined with a petroleum-based plastic (polyethylene) to prevent leaking.

Most disposable coffee cups have a life of only 5 minutes before they are tossed in the trash. In a single week, the average coffee joint goes through 4,000 cups and plastic lids!

Every year, Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Of those, 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper cups— enough to wrap the earth 55 times if placed end-to-end!


The Biodegradable Cup – a step in the right direction, but will you really compost it when done?

Environmental Defense Fund's Starbucks Paper Project

Thoughts from a strickly-paper blog
Disposable Cups vs. Reusable Mugs from
Cups and Other Coffee Packaging Hard on Environment, says study from Packaging Digest


Use a travel mug. Often made of stainless steel, these beauties will keep your coffee or tea hotter longer than a dispoable cup.

Suggest that stores offer a discount when you bring your own. Patronage stores that already offer this. If you buy coffee five days a week, and use your travel mug, you save 260 cups per year!

If you love the SIGG water bottle, which you can find at 3rLiving on 5th Ave in Park Slope or Go Green on Atlantic, you should try their NEW Thermal Bottle. It keeps your hot beverages hot longer than just about any bottle on the market.

If you like to make your own coffee at home check out this Travel Mug Coffee Press. It is 100% spill proof.

For you tea lovers try a mug w/built in strainer!

Did You Know? Starbucks conducted a waste audit in 2003 and found that 589,800 pounds of paper were saved from landfills thanks to 13.5 million people who brought their own mugs!

Can we Solve the Climate Crisis? YES WE CAN! One Sip at a Time!

Monday, November 10, 2008


loved this post from Ideal Bite today! just say NO to plastic holiday decorations! look for plastic alternatives for your holiday parties-- use REAL glasses & REAL mistletoe. what else can we do to have a greener holiday season? xoxo

It's that time of the year again: What would Martha Stewart do?

The Bite

She'd leave the tacky PVC holiday yard decorations at Kmart. Bring in the cheer with natural pieces (such as wreaths and snowmen) instead. How's that for a good thing?

The Benefits

  • Saving for attorney back pay. Those plastic Santa scenes can cost upwards of $150, way more than a real snowman.
  • Homemaking with less plastic. PVC used for outdoor decorations degrades after long sun exposure and seeps into groundwater.
  • More space for back copies of Living. Pinecones and snow can go right back to where they came from: nature.

Personally Speaking

Jen just dumps her decorations in her compost pile when she's done with them, saving the cornucopia for the chickens. Try that with a plastic reindeer.

Wanna Try?

Autumn: Thanksgiving: Christmas:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

hey you ding dongs, these are recycleable!

That's what my friend Lisa shouted yesterday as she fished plastic bottles out of the garbage can.
It was someone's last day, so we celebrated with coconut chai from Bonobos.
I love my work because we eat together which is pretty efficient in terms of waste.
But 30 plastic bottles of chai kind of kills me!

Oh and listen up, PlasticFreeLA!
Bloomberg is proposing to charge 6 cents for every plastic bag shoppers use at the cash register!
This is super exciting. 6 cents doesn't sound like a lot-- but remember what I said in my last post? 10 cents here, 10 cents there and before you know it-- we have a healthier planet. Well look at what the article says:

"Just a few weeks after Ireland adopted a similar, though much heftier tax in 2002 — charging shoppers 33 cents a bag — plastic bag use dropped 94 percent, and within a year, nearly everyone in that country had purchased reusable cloth bags."

Harnessing the brain for good

I saw a segment of the show 60 Minutes called Harnessing The Power of the Brain in my neuropsych class this week-you should check this out if you have a chance. It is absolutely amazing what we can do with science today. In sum the piece was about neuroscientific research that has figured out ways to connect a person's brain to a computer through electordes so that a person can think something and the computer makes the thing happen (it's a bit more complicated than that...but there is now technology that allows you to use your thoughts to make things happen). This is, in a word, amazing. I watched this 12 minutes story in awe for about 10 minutes until it struck me. We (i.e. man kind) can use science and technology to do the most amazing things and yet we (man kind) can't find a way to do the most basic tasks of recycling, reducing and reusing on a daily basis. We have reached extremes in scientific discovery and yet most people can't even find it in themselves to recycle a plastic water bottle when they are done with it!? Where is the disconnect-where did we go wrong? All of the amazingness we have created will be for naught when we have decimated this planet and we have been choked out by a sea of plastic.
It just goes to show everything looks different, even a 12 minute piece on 60 minutes, when you look at the world through the lens of the plastic diet. We need more people to put on these plastic diet glasses.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

another benefit to the plastic-free lifestyle

saving money!

like every time i go to whole foods and i use my own bag:
TEN CENTS off my purchase!

ten cents here, ten cents there.. and before you know it, we'll have a healthier planet :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reheating food sans plastic

I don't use Tupperware to store my food that often (I only have two 'official' pieces of Tupperware and some leftover yogurt or frosting containers that also do the job). But I try to reuse glass jars from food I buy and I have a cupboard full of Ball jars I have bought or inherited that I mostly use to keep food in. I don't think I will be buying any more reusable plastic Tupperware or those less-long-lasting Gladware ones they sell now. In fact I don't think I will be buying any more ever. I am cutting that plastic out of my life for good. I don't need it! Plus, there are a lot of health risks related to heating food while it is in plastic (I don't think there is any risk in storing food in plastic just reheating). Okay heating in glass has it's hazards gets hot—really holds that heat—but I am willing to take the risk and wear oven mitts. In fact since I don't have a microwave glass has really come in handy for reheating food. Check out the picture. Obviously I am not the first one to do this, but I find it fun (and pre-microwave-era-kitchy) every time I reheat leftover food in glass jars using boiling water :) I couldn't/wouldn't want to do that with Tupperware! Sorry Tupperware I know you last a long time (since my mother has had the same set my whole life!) and you are reusable, but you are plastic and you are out! Go glass.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick-or-treat, plastic please!

I had fretted about Halloween and plastic encased candy for about a month to no avail. Then I jumped (almost literally) at the chance to go to a friend's Halloween party and pass out candy there. It was a bit of a cop out, as I didn't deal with the plastic problem head on but it meant I would still get to see little gools and goblins and fairies and power rangers and I would not have to buy my own candy, which I could not bring myself to do because it involves soooo much plastic: individually wrapped candy and the plastic bags the individually wrapped candy comes in! I couldn't do it--that is too much plastic. So, I ran away from the problem and let someone else buy the candy! I thought of homemade treats for less than half a second because we all know no one would eat them in this day and age (ahh to live in the 50's and make popcorn balls, cookies, and candy apples for the little tikes). Well, low and behold, the multitude of plastic wrapped candy was only one of the reasons I realized Halloween is not all it used to be :(
First of all giving kids bucket loads of candy just isn't healthy for them. Giving them little boxes of raisins as treats on the other hand will get your house egged, so candy it is I guess.
Second, giving kids individually wrapped anything in plastic isn't good for the environment!
Third, most kids don't even say "trick-or-treat" any more. They just walk up and open their bag and look at you. Or their parents push them at you when any blind man can see the kid is scared, too young to get Halloween, and shouldn't be eating candy anyway.
Fourth, gools and goblins are a think of the past! I was disturbed by a lot of the "little girl" costumes I saw that we revealing and skimpy.
So, over all it was a bit disappointing. In the end I ate a few pieces of candy (I had forgotten that Charleston Chews even existed--yum) but tended toward the Dots in their little paper boxes. And I began planning my strategy for next year...I'm thinking Free Trade chocolate coins that come in those shiny gold metal wrappers....