Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 2008...HELLO 2009!

Sorry I have been a little absent, but it has been a busy end of 2008 soon to be followed by a busy beginning of 2009 (with a few days in NY with plastifreenyc!).

I am currently on vacation in Vermont with family and as always when I venture away from the plastic-free bubble I have created for myself in LA plastic starts creeping into my life. Plus with the holidays and presents-what is a girl to do!?-plastic will find it's way in.

Here is a picture of my favorite plastic-free Christmas presents!

A cool wooden rolling pin, a handmade tile, yarn, homemade jam, maple syrup, and loose-leaf tea from

There is definitely a theme to these gifts: they are minimally processed and for the most part unpackaged or packaged in glass. This is one trick for cutting down on plastic: get back to the basics, don't buy things with lots of parts, gadgets, or packaging.

I advertised my desire for plastic-free presents this year and for the most part people were accommodating. I even got plastic free and local in many cases-way to go fam :) On the other hand there were also some conventional gift like DVDs-a.k.a. plastic, encased in plastic, wrapped in plastic...really altogether too much plastic.

So, as the year draws to a close and my plastic consumption has been diminishing over the last 6 months I am recommitting myself to the plastic diet as a New Year's resolution. If you haven't made a resolution yet the plastic diet is a great resolution to take on. I highly recommend it! You don't even have to make it a resolution-you can make it a way of life. Remember start small and build up and no need to give it all up if you have one little slip up :)

Happy 2009! We look forward to your continued readership.

happy new year!

A new year, a fresh start!
How much plastic have you used in 2009?

Consider making a resolution to use less plastic in 2009--
perhaps to give up plastic bags, or give up disposable coffee cups.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

plastic-free chinese food

here's how it's done:

1. go to restaurant
2. order
3. say "could you please use this container?"
4. hand them your tupperware or re-use a chinese food container
5. when they're putting your order into a bag, say "i don't need a plastic bag."
6. be ever-vigilant. they will try to sneak a plastic spoon in there. you don't need it.
7. enjoy!

it works.. try it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

what to do when someone serves you dessert with a plastic spoon

Our chef at work is amazing and on special occasions she makes us these extravagant desserts.
Yesterday we had Mont Blanc which is this chocolate pudding stuff with whipped cream on top. She came around to each of our desks and dropped off a bowl of it with a plastic spoon. I didn't want to offend her, or refuse the dessert. So what's a plastic dieter to do? I grabbed my plastic spoon and my friend's, snuck into the kitchen while Anita was delivering Mont Blancs in the opposite corner of the office, washed the spoons, put them back and grabbed 2 silver spoons. Success!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No need for a bag-I have these here arms

I do my best to remember to bring reusable canvas-type bags with me everywhere-I have about 5 in the back of my car-but without fail those bags some how stay in my car when I go into stores (I have poor short term memory apparently). You'd think I would learn or at least be less reluctant to trot back to my car and get a bag when I realize I need one-but no on both fronts. So, I find myself turning down bags left and right and using my arms as my "bag". In fact I do this so often I have developed a patent response to the looks of craziness and the common remark of "Want a bag?" that I get from store staff as I walk toward the exit with my arms loaded down. I smile and say "No thanx, I have these two good arms, I might as well use them" sometimes I go as far as "God gave me two good arms because s/he wants me to use them" (if I think the religious bent will be more convincing) and then I go along my merry way. I like to think I am inspiring others to go without a bag as well, but judging by the looks maybe not so much. Sure would be easier if I was more consistent on bring my own canvas bags into stores with me... Wouldn't it be great though if we all used our arms and hands for what I can only imagine is one of their most functional usages-carrying things ?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

comparing apples and oranges

I've mentioned my love for local farmer's markets before, but let me mention it again—love them!—here is another plastic related reason why.

To set the stage:
Sometime around when I entered college my innate hunter-gather gene got turned on—when it came to hunting and gathering free food that is…free pizza—I'm there…grabbing an extra apple or banana at the cafeteria for later—sure why not? cream social—I can be social if ice cream is involved! Well, time has passed since I was an undergrad and I have become much more selective about what I eat, but when I was at a conference the other day there was a bowl of fruit out and I just grabbed a couple of apples for later—yum apples! It took me a couple of days to get around to eating these apples but when I did I was caught off guard. These apples have stickers on them! Stickers (?!) made of a plasticy material (!!).

Farmer’s market reference:
I have been buying produce exclusively at farmer's markets for so long I forgot produce from stores have stickers! Plasticy stickers! One more reason to shop local at the farmer's market I say. Plus after removing the sticker I thoroughly scrubbed the apple remembering it is likely conventionally grown as well...

Comparing apples and oranges:
My stickered apples went into a bowl in my kitchen with my non-sticker oranges and it painted a nice picture of the difference between my apples and oranges. They were hard to compare as there is very little compassion between my apples (store bought, stickered, far flung fruit) and oranges (farmer bought, stickerless, local fruit).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

why can't i just recycle it-Part II

On the same day that Kerry read the NY Times article she posted about on the slowdown in the recycling system, I heard a story on NPR about the same thing! We both thought 'yes' this makes our point. Recycling is not a cure—it is band-aid. Band-aids are important mind you, but you really have to find a cure or what is under the band-aid will fester.
Take a listen to NPR's story I heard:
Falling Prices Take Toll On Municipal Recycling
and find out why recycling is not all it is cracked up to be and why we need to choose first to use less, then to reuse, then choose to recycle.

A couple of other thoughts...
1) I'm very skeptical of recycling generally just because a) I know/have seen more people put trash in with their recycling (in municipal pick up bins) than I have seen people do recycling the right way—very discouraging, and b) I have been told by trash/recycling LA County officials (at a booth at a local farmer's market) that "soiled" or "contaminated" recycling materials are unusable and sent directly to the dumb. So, that pizza box you think is recyclable isn’t if it has grease from the pizza on it or the newspaper thrown in with the beer cans that get wet from the beer are no longer usable… You put a) and b) together and you get a lot less recycling actually happening then we would like to think.
2) I've been reading the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by McDonough and Braungart (I'll probably post more on the book in the future but I definitely recommend it). The book talks about the idea of 'downcycling' as opposed to ‘recycling'. Why? Because practically nothing is re-made or re-cycled into what it was before it is down-graded or down-cycled into something lower on the recycling food chain that will be less easy to recycle in the next go round and will eventually end up in a landfill. Example: plastic soda bottles can be made into a fleece jacket but the fleece jacket can't be recycled into anything else and will end up in a landfill, so the re in recycle doesn't go that far—the cycle ends rather abruptly.
3) The Chinese environment (rivers, forests, wetlands, etc.) are reeling from contaminants that are the by products of recycling, i.e. beach runoff from paper recycling ( no one wants to buy grayish reused paper). So, not only is it consuming energy to send our recycled products ‘out of sight out of mind’ and make them someone else’s business/problem, this industry also hurts the environment. We Americans are exporting our waste so we don’t have to deal with the consequences of it—shame.
Just some thoughts to keep in mind...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

why can't i just recycle it?

For as long as Erin and I have been cutting back on plastic, 
people have been asking us "why can't I just recycle it?" 

Well, this post if for you!  

There's a major problem with recycling.  
Because of the recession, the demand for recycled materials has dropped. 
A ton of tin used to go for $327 a ton, and now it's worth $5 a ton. 
Paper used to sell for $105 a ton, and now it's selling for $25 a ton. 

A big part of the problem is that we export recyclables to China. (Did you hear that? Your stuff goes all the way to China! Recycling is not some magic cure. It's an energy-intensive process.) But since the global economy has slowed down, demand from China has slowed.  And now your paper, plastic, metal and cardboard are being warehoused at great expense to the recycling facilities and to Mama Earth. 

So like we've been saying: use less.  

Read more in "Back at Junk Value, Recyclables are Piling Up" from today's New York Times. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Integrative Nutrition asks: are you living in alignment with your values?

There’s a fellow no-plastic blogger at who writes about cutting out plastic as a way of becoming more authentic in all areas of your life. She makes the connection that when you’re not intentional about your consumption choices, it’s likely that you’re not being intentional about other things—such as your job.

So in the spirit of celebrating authenticity, I’d like to share about The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

This time last year, I worked in public relations. I didn’t like my job and I wasn’t doing work that I believed in. My mom told me that “work is work,” but I said that's baloney! I was convinced that I could do meaningful work that matters, and get compensated well for it.

I also struggled with figuring out what to eat. I was stumped when I wheeled my cart around the supermarket or looked at a restaurant menu. I was an unhealthy vegetarian-- not getting enough protein and loading up on desserts to be full. Also an unhealthy marathon runner, eating lots of Zone bars with no clue how to fuel my workouts. I was convinced that something as fundamental as food shouldn't be so complicated!

So when I learned about Integrative Nutrition, a holistic nutrition school where you get certified as a health counselor, I enrolled right away.

During class, the founder of the school talked about doing work that is in alignment with your values. Aha! I knew I was in the right place. Love that word—alignment. I learned how to eat healthy and cook(!), met amazing people, had a wonderful experience, became certified as a health counselor, left the PR job and have had many doors open in my career (in fact, I now work at the school).

If you know anyone who might be interested in attending, class starts in January. Since I'm a graduate, if you mention my name you will receive a $1000 tuition discount. More details here.

Feel free to contact me with questions.

Make it a healthy 2009!

plastic free party

I threw 3 holiday parties this week (2 at work, one for play).
Let me tell you, it's impossible to have a plastic-free party, especially if you're throwing it with co-workers and roommates who aren't on an anti-plastic crusade.
I wanted to cry when we went to Whole Foods and picked up the food for the work party.
We filled the entire back of a van with plastic containers.
The most egregious offense was plastic containers with crackers floating around-- they could have just given us the crackers in boxes for us to set out.

There are highs and lows on the plastic diet, and I had some proud moments yesterday. When my roommates and I went out to get supplies, I brought a bunch of reusable bags. Guess how many I brought-- the perfect amount. We didn't need to use a single plastic bag.

And we didn't use any plastic cups or plates or forks for our party. We pulled out all of our glasses, mugs and cups and put them on the table and that's what everyone used. It made for a big clean up effort this morning, but was totally worth it. And led to some funny pics, like this kid with my hiking cup clipped to his belt loop:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plastic bag law in NY

Check this out, it is from a new plastic blogger Juli in NYC.
Welcome to the plastic-less lifestyle Juli :)
There is going to be a new law re: plastic bags in NY. If Governor Paterson does nothing, the new state law will take effect after Dec. 11. and will nullify NYC's stronger law re: plastic carryout bags passed last January.
Click here to take action:

Friday, December 5, 2008

shame on me

i got a tall hot chocolate from starbucks today in a despicable one-time use throwaway cup.

i'm sorry :(


I'm flabbergasted. I bought an 8 quart "multi-pot" made by Calphalon tonight. I scored a turkey carcass on Thanksgiving so I could make delicious homemade turkey noddle soup and realized when I got home I didn't own a pot big enough to boil this turkey in. So a week later I have gotten around to buying a big enough pot to make my soup. It came in cardboard box and I'm a bit exhausted tonight so I didn't think to inspect inside the box before bringing my new Calphalon pot home..
Low and behold...

FOUR bags for each of the four parts of this multi-use pot! Yikes! This is absolutely crazy!
But what is more crazy is the warning (in three languages mind you) on each bag.

Here is verbatim:
WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this bag away from babies and children. Do not use in cribs, beds, carriages or playpens. This bag is not a toy. Discard bag and any other packaging materials immediately after removing product. Do not re-use this bag.

Here is how I would amend this warning:
WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation and death, keep this bag away from babies, children, and all animals-especially animals who live in and buy the sea. Do not use in cribs, beds, carriages, playpens, outside, inside, on land, in the ocean or basically anywhere. This bag is not a toy-this bag may bring death to many animals. Do not discard this bag and any other packaging materials immediately after removing product. Please find a way to reuse them before recycling them. Re-use this bag at the very least! Then write Calphalone and ask then to stop using these wasteful bags in their packaging.

And a picture like this might be a good warning too!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

can i wear makeup on the plastic diet?

I love makeup.

I don't wear tons of it, but i do love it. (also: perfume)

Lots of makeup, unfortunately, comes in plastic tubes and bottles.

But in the spirit of making better choices, I have tried out Cargo PlantLove cosmetics.

I'm loving their powder foundation, blush and shimmery eye shadows. The power foundation has a similar consistency to my Bare Escentuals.

In terms of packaging, these products come in PLA (which is made from corn starch and can biodegrade over time) containers and the boxes are made from recycled cardboard.

And their ECOCERT certified products have organic ingredients (like sunflower seed oil, shea butter, almond oil, etc).

Nice to have some new options!

Monday, December 1, 2008

lest we forget

This is a must visit (or revisit) web page, lest we forget how important our actions are and how important it is for us all to do something! We need to take action for ourselves and for those helpless creatures who are unfortunate enough to inhabit a world where humans act so carelessly in their treatment of the only planet we have.

Go, and watch the video clip too!

After spending time perusing this page I am reminded of a quote by Bill Bryson. The quote strikes to the core (my core at least).

"If you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going, keep a record of where it had been, [and take care of it] you would not choose human beings to do the job. But here is a very salient point, we have been chosen, by fate or providence or whatever you wish to call it. As far as we can tell we are the best there is, we may be all there is. It is an unnerving thought, we may be the universes supreme achievement and worst nightmare simultaneously."