Saturday, January 31, 2009

8 months of plastic

February 1st will mark 8 months of Kerry and my plastic reductionist lifestyle!
This was our one rule in starting this adventure:
Limit/confine/reduce plastic intake to no more than one piece of plastic per day.
I decided to keep all the plastic I use/consume (even if it is recyclable) over the year. I wanted to see how much would accumulate. My dream is to find an artist to make something out of my plastic after the year is up! I would like something creative to come of my mass of plastic. On June 1st 2009 I will count all my plastic and see how close I have gotten to keeping my plastic consumption goal—no more than 365 pieces. But for now here is a picture of how much has accumulated...

I decided early on to keep my plastic in this tub, but the tub is getting full! I'm not sure what to do if it gets too full.... I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Note: There have been times it just wasn't possible to keep a piece of plastic that came into my life (i.e. I decided not to bring any plastic waste back from my month in Brazil) and there were a few times I have forgotten to bring a used piece of plastic home with me. So, I'd say I have kept (and pictured here) about 90-95% of the plastic that has come into my life since June.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

That ship has already sailed

Let me tell you about my 'that ship has already sailed' philosophy as it relates to the plastic diet. So, I go to great lengths in general to avoid plastic, i.e. making a cake from scratch to avoid the plastic-bag-encased-much-less-time-consuming store bought cake mix. (Of course, I have my weaknesses, i.e. local cheese that only comes in plastic, that I never seem to avoid even if I should.) For the most part though I try very hard to avoid plastic food packaging. This is because this is an area of plastic reduction that can make a big difference. In general we get a lot of plastic when we buy/consume food (take-out, eat-in, grocery store, farmer's market-you name it). There is a big exception to this avoidance though and that is when the food item is bought by someone else and offered to me—post purchase. In this case I live by the philosophy of 'that ship has already sailed'. By this I mean, I can't undo that plastic purchase, it is done, nothing I do can change it—so, I think ‘I might as well not be a martyr’ and I partake! I usually get really excited about the partaking too because the food item is generally something I no longer allow myself to buy and often something I miss, like crunchy carbs…yum crackers. I talked to Kerry about this plastic food loophole when I was in NYC with her a few weeks ago. We discussed the merit (or lack there of) of my justification working across the board. For example sometimes it might be the case that if I didn't partake, less would be consumed, then less would be bought in the future, and then less plastic would enter the system. I agree this is the case sometimes, but today while I partook of two wonderfully crunchy Mint Chocolate Pirouette cookies in the common room at work, I was happy for my 'ship has sailed' philosophy—even if it is a loophole :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

no bag! save a tree!

I bought shoes the other day
and told the guy that I didn't need a plastic bag.

He goes "no bag! save a tree!"

what? :)

maybe he meant save a tree from getting choked by plastic bags,
like this one:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Glass kicks a**

Check out this bumper sticker...who knew there were enough other glass lovers out there for such a thing to exist? The plastic diet has made me love glass. I was big fan of Ball jars for storing food before, but now I go a bit gaga for glass containers of all kinds. I even recently thought to look for vitamins in glass bottles. I ran out of my trusty children’s chewable vitamins a few months back (gotta love those Flintstone flavors:) and thought I would just give up vitamins (I eat pretty healthy so I figured I could handle it) but then-stroke of genius-I asked at Whole Foods if they sell any children’s chewable vitamins in glass bottles and low-and-behold one company (Country Life) does. Now I’m back on track with my daily supplements of Zinc, Selenium, d-Biotin and the like. Hooray for glass! Hooray for health! Next I will be sure to find Omega 3 Fish Oil sold in glass when I run out.


sorry i've been quiet!

i just had yogurt from a plastic container. will recycle.

and want to replace an empty bottle of mouthwash.. do we know of any plastic-free options?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Go green LA!

Today I went to the Los Angeles Go Green Expo (arriving in NYC, Atlanta, and Philly later in the year). In deciding to go I was feeling both curious and a little skeptical because my cause is, of course, plastic reduction but the green movement doesn't always embody this cause. This is especially true when it comes to packaging. Often very ecofriendly and green products get packaged in very un-ecofriendly plastic. I find this frustrating, ironic, and sad :( But I wanted to see what this expo had to offer, learn, ask questions, and just be around other people who also care about bettering the environment.

Here are some pictures from the expo...

My first qualm...a plastic bracelet needed to get into the exhibit area! A greener option would have been a hand stamp (soy-based ink of course ;)!

The nonplastic swag I got or bought. I turned down anything from a booth if it was plastic-even if it was made from recycled plastic-and as I turned it down I said why I didn't want it. No plastic, please!

Oh rejoice! Disposable plates, take-out containers and more made from tapioca and bamboo fiber! Find out more at: Very cool!

Oooooh bamboo furniture! I want some :)

I still need to learn more about these biodegradable trash bags. They are biodegradable, but also plastic..."we use ecofriendly applications methods with proprietary plastic additives that are ASTM D6p54 compliant ....our plastic totally degrades in 2 years [and] leaves 0 harmful toxins behind". Plastic, yes. Biodegradable, yes? Confusing, yes...

Plastic grass! Ick. Yes, watering a lawn uses a lot of water, but there are other landscaping options that are not plastic grass.

Overall, it was a good experience. I would have liked to see less plastic but I was happy to see other like minded people and great products not made from plastic...oh I want one of those all natural mattresses that costs waaaaay too much money for me to even think was nice to get to try the mattress out though :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oooooh Bamboooooo!

I’ve been a little bamboo crazy lately. I recently bought the To-Go Ware Bamboo Utensil Set (as many other plastic reductions have done), a fork-spoon set for my nephews (pictured) plus some products made by Bambu . There are so many reasons why bamboo is such a great alternative to wood (bamboo is actually a grass – not wood!), plastic, and metal, here are just a few of the reasons why:
  • Bamboo has an amazingly short growth cycle; it can be harvested in 3-5 years (versus 15-20, typical for many hardwoods).
  • Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet (!) it can grow up to 3 feet per day.
  • Bamboo is durable and strong – it is harder than Red Oak and Maple.
  • Bamboo plays an important role in the reduction of timber consumption and it releases 35% more oxygen than equivalent timber stands.
  • Bamboo needs no replanting; it grows without fertilizers or pesticides!
I think the reason I am so crazy about bamboo is that it is such a renewable resourcethe absolute opposite of plastic! Plus bamboo can and is grown organically very often. Also, it is a really versatile product – it can be used to make utensils, toys, flooring, sheets…and I am sure many other things that I have yet to come across which are also made with plastic-y substances .

Feel free to join me in my bamboo craze – it’s fun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

JUNK Raft revisited

Remember the JUNK Raft journey from this past summer...a boat made of junk/plastic sailing from California to Hawaii to raise awareness of the plastic problem in the ocean? Not ringing a bell... No worries we have a link to their blog down there on the right hand side of your screen under 'Get Inspired'.

Well, today I was lucky enough to go to a presentation by Dr. Marcus Eriksen (JUNK Raft sailor, researcher, etc.) and Anna Cummins (JUNK Raft blog runner, educator, etc.) about the JUNK Raft journey, the plastic problem in the ocean, and their upcoming JUNK Ride which will go from Vancouver to Tijuana spreading the word about the problems of plastic in our oceans. These guys are inspiring!

Here are some of the points from the talk that really stuck with me that I thought I'd share:
  • You can think of the North Pacific Gyre like a big toilet bowl..our plastic crap gets in there and just goes round and round and round...but this toilet never flushes
  • Marcus and Anna talked about walking on a beach in Hawaii where they were knee (and even waist deep at times) in debris, mostly plastic, that had washed up on the beach
  • 44% of all sea birds species in the world currently live with plastic in or around their bodies
  • The fish we eat often are caught with plastic in their bellies...that means the chemicals in the plastics that the fish have ingested are in their bodies, in their flesh, the flesh that we then eat...doesn't make you want to go out and get sushi does it
Check out more about JUNK Raft at their blog (, find out more about (and help fund) the work they do at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation ( and...they run a site called PlasticsAreForever ( with information and facts...I like the name of that site ;)

P.S. Much like Kerry and I these guys highly promote 'bringing your own' and eliminating single use disposable plastics in your daily life as ways of making a difference!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

did you know you can ask for a mug at starbucks?!

I was meeting Becca for coffee and I didn't have my reusable mug with me. So I went to the counter and said "I have a question." The barista said "I have an answer." I said "If I'm getting coffee for here, can I please have it served in a mug?" The guy said "Yes, we have tall and grande-sized mugs." And then we chatted about how good for the environment AND THE SOUL it is to have your coffee served in a real mug and I promised him I would blog about it. People around me were exclaiming "I didn't know you could do that!" It was marvelous.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I love those comment boxes...

So, I decided to buy some yarn online to make this very cute purse and I really wanted the exact yarn it is pictured/patterned in (because it is so cute) I searched and searched and the only place I found it was online. I know that buying anything that has to be shipped usually involves plastic so I try to buy online as little as possible. But I bought the yarn online and wrote in the 'comments' box the following message.
"Could you please ship my yarn without plastic, i.e. no plastic bags, mailing envelop, bubble wrap, peanuts, and the environment THANK YOU!"

...and I got a response to my comment:

"Welcome Erin!
That is no problem, we are also concerned with the environment. I'd like to explain how I ship, & why I ship the way I do.
I ship with the least amount of packaging possible. My packaging is meant to insure that your products arrive safely (in the same condition they leave this shop,), quickly, & at the least amount of expense to you.
I must admit to shipping yarn in bags. The plastic bags 1) to keep it clean, & 2) to protect it from damage. Let me explain: If I ship in a cardboard container, and it is either unwrapped or wrapped in undyed tissue paper, & the package is in the rain or snow, i.e, mailbox, mailbag, the yarn will be wet. (I have had this happen to me, which is why I worry.). I also find they are a great way to store the yarn, (the bags are archive friendly,) & a great way to carry your yarn around.
I normally ship 5 Cinnabars in a Tyvek mailer, further protected by a bag. If you would rather I ship differently, please advise. I also want you to understand, that we will not be responsible if the yarn is damaged. I do not mean to sound harsh, I certainly respect your wishes. I just want to be certain that your yarn arrives safely, and in a manner that is acceptable to you.
Please let me know how you would like me to package your order.

I love to get responses for my no plastic please comments. It makes me realize that I do and can make a (little) difference and others also care! I think you can guess how I will respond to Carol :)

So...moral of the day: speak up, say something and while you are saying something say no plastic please.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

great website for inspiration and renewal

A friend who knows of my plastic purge lifestyle (and what friend doesn’t know at this point!) asked me if I had heard of the website I hadn't, but I have been checking it out a a lot lately and I would like to encourage you all to do the same. It is a general pro-environmental change site maintained by Daryl Hannah. It has info about important environmental issues, facts, knowledge, is really quite interesting...but it is not plastic reductive specific. It has three sections: know dummy, show, and the goods. All have great info/products. I will be going through the 'shows' (short informative video clips) for a while still, but the ones I have seen have been informative and inspiring. The products in the 'the goods' section are also cool-some are plasticy of course-but some are not.

I have found one important part of the plastic diet is a need for continual reinspiration and renewal for why I should do what I do, why it matters, and small reminders that I do make a difference. Some how this website has done that for me. I think it is knowing that there are others out there who also care. It is hard to be on a plastic diet island all the time in a sea of plastic addiction. It is nice to know there are other islands and that maybe we islands can provide some refuge for those poor marine animals (and others) who are suffering because of our plastic addiction. Check it out:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

plasticfreenyc and plasticfreela reunion!

Erin was in New York for 2 days over the holiday!
Oh sweet joy!
We talked about plastic, ate some popcorn, saw a play.. it was glorious!

Maybe Erin can even post a picture when she comes back online.

Thought you all might like this article A Life Without Plastics? from the Chicago Tribune.