In this post I will be discussing the trash that my household used to make thanksgiving happen. You must know that in my extended family we have a potluck style dinner. This year my family was responsible for the turkey, deviled eggs, and the pies.
All of the items above are items that have some kind of plastic in them. I weighed all of the items and it came out to be six and a half pounds.
I made the deviled eggs. The one item that I used to use that is in plastic is mayo. This year I went to my local market to look for an alternative. I was not able to find an alternative with no plastic, but instead of buying mayo in a plastic bottle I found one in a glass jar with a plastic top and a seal. I will be able to reuse the bottle in the future with the plastic top. My only plastic contribution is the seal around the jar.
My mother and sister made the pies. I can only speak for the ones that my mom made as they were the ones I saw. Basically my mom wins the no plastic award! She used no plastic at all to bake a mincemeat pie and an apple pie.
My Bag of Shame 9/29-11/21/14
As promised in the rule section I will be showing you my monthly plastic. My bag of shame is where I collect all of the plastic that I do accumulate in my life.
This time I am including all of the plastic trash that I have used since I started this lifestyle. Interestingly I remember all of these items and why I have them. There is a LARABAR wrapper from the first week when I was not prepared enough and though I would die of hunger. The salsa container was a heartbreak because I bought a burrito to avoid plastic not knowing that they put the salsa in a separate container. You might ask why I have a brown paper in the background? Well that is from a night where I went out for pizza at the Cheese Board. I thought that it was wax paper, later that night I burnt the corner to make sure. That's when I realized that it is indeed plastic coated. There are milk caps, a plastic seal that I didn't realize was there, and a ripped reusable bag that I can no longer reuse. The biggest plastic purchase I made was the grey hard plastic on the top of the picture. It is from a few weeks ago when I bought a Stand Up Paddleboard. I bought it used and the straps that I brought with me were not keeping the board attached to the top of my car so I went into the local Ace Hardware store to buy new straps. These were the least plastic wrapped.
All in all for the past 53 days my plastic trash is 6 oz.
Yesterday I got the following text message from a friend of mine after I had explained my anti-plastic life. He was in a grocery store when he texted me the following:
This message made my day! When I see that through my actions a conversation about plastic is possible. Also if because of this conversation my friend or anyone reading this blog buys just one less item that is packaged in plastic I feel like that is a first battle won!
Feel free to message me through the contact link to the left, the messages go straight to my personal email.
Thank you for taking the time to start this conversation.
As I said in a previous post I am going with the flow. I am replacing my plastic things as they run out or as I find better solutions. This morning I finally ran out of toothpaste. I have been squeezing this tube in every possible way to get just one more use out of it, but today I really believe that I got the last out of this tube.
Of course this meant that I had to find an alternative. I have known that one can use baking soda instead of toothpaste for years but I personally have never used it. I went out and bought organic baking soda from one of my local stores. (Are and hammer comes in a cardboard box so that is a great alternative as well.) I used a plastic bag that I have reused many-many times to put it in for the time I bought it and transported it home. At home I transferred it into a small mason jar (you may recognize the jar from my Trader Joes post. As always Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle).
I made a label so everyone knows what the mystery white powder is. I'm excited about this new change,once again it takes me one step closer to a plasticless life.
I felt that I should address the complex issue of Halloween before it hits (even if it is only a day away).
I got home and saw this on the coffee table in our living room...
My original plan was to hide in a closet and wait for this holiday to pass. I'm joking, BUT I did plan on going out to avoid this insane amount of packaged candy (that of course came in another big plastic bag).
Coming home to this mound of plastic makes me think: "Is there an alternative?" Of course there is. The question is can you do this without disappointing the kids that come to your door? I know that as a kid Halloween was one of the most exciting holidays. My dad dressed up as a gorilla, I got to be whatever or whoever I wanted to be... Am I getting too excited?
Anyways you can see from my eyes (kid in the white outfit) that I was about as high on sugar as it gets. My alternative to no plastic on Halloween is to give kids orange and black pencils. If I can find ones that are Halloween themed even better but generally those are wrapped in a plastic bag as well.
The kids that get these will be able to use them later while I don't have to buy plastic. It's a great trade off. PLUS the kids will get their sugar fix from my neighbors I'm sure. This is not the perfect solution but for now on such a late notice it will reduce my plastic use and will hopefully inspire others to do so next year.
I am a student at San Francisco State University. For lunch I usually stand in line at Rosso Cafe to buy the bagel special #5 (which is hummus, falafel, tomato, and sprouts on a bagel of your choice. Strange I know but actually really good). Yesterday I decided to take a walk to the closest store to my school instead, Trader Joe's. I used to shop there a lot as it is convenient. When you walk in everything is friendly looking, the cute signs that look (might be) handmade, the people are amazingly helpful and interested in assisting you to their best ability! Anyways Trader Joe's products are generally packaged in plastic, sometimes even individually wrapped. This is why deciding to see what I could buy for lunch that is plastic free, or unwrapped was so interesting.
I grabbed a basket and started from one end of the store and systematically went through all aisles. I walked through the produce section first. I could buy apples, pears, peaches, and lots of other fruits as they are sold individually. Some of their fruits are pre-bagged in plastic and some are in plastic boxes such as strawberries and grapes. I decided to buy two bananas from the organic section. In the vegetable section there were loose bell peppers of all colors, onions, potatoes, and other vegetables. I found the avocados here as well (I never know if it is a fruit or vegetable) I wanted to buy an organic avocado but they were all in mesh sacks with a plastic seal. I ended up buying a non-organic avocado. While I bought these I glanced over to the refrigerator wall that had sliced fruits in containers, salads in bags and boxes, all plastic of course. There was nothing I could buy so I just kept on walking. Next I arrived at the yogurt wall. All of these items were in plastic (This is one of my biggest sorrows...I'm still looking for a solution to eating yogurt!!!) I wanted to buy some sort of bread for lunch so I went to the bread aisle. At first my heart sank because all the breads and tortillas were in plastic bags. Then I found this stand that had Trader Joe's baguettes and breads in paper!!! As I grabbed one I saw that there was a plastic strip down the front so you can see the bread. I put it back. I than walked around the side to find victory! There was a Semifreddi's baguette in a "just" paper bag! I snatched it up before anyone else could.
While avocado and bread are a great meal I really wanted to eat cheese as well. As I approached the cheese case I knew this was a lost battle, but figured I might as well investigate. I almost got excited about a sharp cheddar that looked as if it were wrapped in wax paper but as I examined the edge I could see that the part facing the cheese had a plastic coating. Heartbroken (not really, but I had my hopes up to eat cheese) I moved on. I found the peanut butter and jelly area. All of the peanut butter jars that were glass had plastic tops. I settled with Fig butter as it is in a glass jar with a metal top. Also it does not have a plastic seal around the top.
I ended up getting a mac and cheese for a trip I am going on this weekend I hope the cheese is in a paper bag, we will see.
Below you can see what I actually ended up buying after a half an hour non-plastic lunch run "mission".
The lesson I learned from this trip is that I can find things to eat on the run. BUT they may not be exactly what I want. It also takes time to find non wrapped items.
I am going to start this blog post by listing a few rules that I have been living by for the last week and a half. Rather than calling them rules though as that seems too harsh I would like to call them guide lines.
Obviously the goal is to buy nothing plastic. This isn't as easy as it seems, today almost everything has some sort of plastic component or coating. This is why I am going to take the time and explain how I am dealing with this.
I have decided that I will not throw out things that are plastic that I already have. It would just become more trash in the land fill. I will use my plastic thing as long as I can. This includes the plastic bags that I buy my produce in. As I started this suddenly I do not have many but the ones that I do I will be using for bulk items until I find a better solution. The same goes to old salsa and take out containers that have been shoved under my sink for who knows how long. I will use them to get food if the stores I go to allow them. I will also use them to take food to school and work in. While I will slowly trade these things out for non plastic alternatives this gives me time to research and find the most environmentally friendly items. The same goes for nonfood items. At the moment I still have shampoo, soap, toilet paper,and many other things that I will eventually run out of and have to find a non-plastic bottle/wrapped solution.
As everything else goes. I will buy most of my items used as that is a great way of taking items out of danger of being dumped at a landfill. I can find almost anything I need at second hand stores. My personal favorites are Out of the Closet, Goodwill, Savers, but it doesn't really matter there are used stores everywhere! If someday I need to replace electronics I will also look to find a used version before I buy anything know. This will once again save one more item from being sent to the landfill but it will also save a tone of wrapping and packaging material that I would otherwise just throw away.
Ultimately I'm just going back to the rules we all hear as kids: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
(I tried to upload pictures but am having technology problems...maybe in an update)
How this all started...
I went to the People's Climate Rally in Oakland on the 21st of September. There I joined hundreds of people who showed up to share their support for the march in New York. There were amazing speakers and even more information at the booths. The event was without a carbon footprint thanks to the bike tree (which is a bike powered stage). This was the first time I understood, maybe my small steps can mean something. If all of these people are doing them than together we are making a big difference.
On Tuesday I went to my Eco-Art class where we discussed the Rally and other issues. After that discussion we watched the movie Bag It... And that is where this journey began! (I included the trailer just in case you are interested).
After watching the movie I couldn't really pay attention to the class anymore. I imagined myself in a grocery store shopping just the usual stuff. What would I be able to buy? At first it seemed impossible even though I just saw someone who has indeed been able to reduce his plastic use drastically.
Just think about it, if you look in your fridge, pantry, or shelves how many of the items are somehow wrapped in plastic. They may even be in a plastic container wrapped in plastic in a box. The point that I'm getting at is that we are surrounded by plastic wrapped items.
As I walked home I decided that I was going to try, no I was going to stop buying things in plastic!
As you follow me here you will be able to see how successful I am at this task. I will share all the things I learn on this journey as well as all the times I make mistakes.
As I am documenting this I am also collecting any plastic I do happen to buy on accident or out of necessity. Every month I will weigh it and let you know what is in my trash.
A little sneak peek at the topic of my next post: