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320 comments
AneCristi
AneCristi

Hello, thank you for posting so many ideas!!! I wish I could find the products you talk about here in France... I guess I will have to find my own solutions!!! But thank you very much!!! 

7Holly
7Holly

I am astounded by the detail and thoughtfulness here.  I am going to scour this because I am already finding your research invaluable.  I, too, am trying to live a healthier, plastic-free as I can be, life.  Thank you so much! :-)

zambooka
zambooka

I just wanted to add that the company decided to recycle the plastic sent back to them and they did not go with the reuse idea. If you could send an email to the company commending them for their brilliant idea, but informing them that reusing the bags sent back to them would be much better for the environment I'm assuming it would also save them on money. Then if the bag is no longer usable, then they can recycle it. 


I imagine it would be difficult to reuse these bags. But I wonder if there is a way.  At the very least I think they could reuse the dispensers on the plastic bag. 

sunshinedaydream
sunshinedaydream

Can you recommend a  travel mug  for hot tea that is is safe?

zambooka
zambooka

I have to say, for the past year and a half I've reduced my packaging footprint by a lot. I no longer use, 


1. Disposable feminine hygiene products

2. plastic bags from stores

3. cling wrap

4. bought cheese

5. plastic yogurt containers

6. shampoo/conditioner/body wash containers

7. new Dish soap containers (I refill from bulk)

8.  plastic deodorant containers 

9. plastic bulk bags

10. plastic fruits and vegetable bags

11. disposable milk containers

12. (I've only bought one kleenex box for guests)

13. cleaning supplies containers (except vinegar)

14.  new handsoap containers

15. Ziplock sandwich/freezer bags

16. disposable water bottles

17. (very few plastic covered chocolate/candy) I have my moments of weakness but I have cut down significantly.

18.  new plastic toothbrushes. (I only buy the heads)

19. bought bread covered in plastic or paper

20. I reused my berry containers when I could go to the farmers market. (for 5 months of the year.)

21. new laundry detergent containers

22. plastic straws

23. Pre-bought popsicles (I make my own) 

24. disposable individual juice containers (I still buy pineapple juice in as big of a container as I can get, because I love that stuff.) 

25. Plastic knives, forks/spoons



So yeah... even though I still use a ton of plastic, (it's unavoidable) I'm still proud of my reduction! 

KarenScribner
KarenScribner

You deserve Straus ice cream for all the hard work you are doing to raise the awareness of plastic use gone wild. Keep in mind with quality ice cream you eat less so the carton of ice cream lasts longer. You can use the carton for a plant pot, too.

Janet
Janet

Love your post! I do a fair amount to decrease our use of plastic and try to provide a healthful diet for my family. We still have plenty of plastic in our home. I'm constantly pulling plastic bags out of the trash (from his purchases)  AND I have to keep telling hubby that things he thinks are 'healthy' to feed the kiddos really just aren't.. Will keep trying...

Marina
Marina

Hi Beth,

This is a very comprehensive and useful guide. Ive been reading your blog for hours now. Thank you. However, Im wondering about buying from the bulk bins. I also live in the Bay Area and If I remember correctly Rainbow uses plastic bins for their dry bulk storage. Doesnt that mean that the grains etc. are tainted?

zaklyon
zaklyon

Hello, I love this post. I've been trying to find a manufacturer of Plastic-Free Deodorant Stick Applicators. Is there anywhere you might tell me to look. I cannot find a single company that does it. Are there at least ones that do biodegradable plastic or BPA Free plastic?


Thanks,

Zak

Liz
Liz

Totally, totally love your blog. It's become my go-to place when I'm ready to let go of another source of plastic in my life. However, here's a question I haven't seen answered yet.  A friend and I want to get our county government to ban plastic bags, much as is done in Portland, OR.  One major question that I know will come up is how are people going to bag their garbage for pick-up by the county.  You and I both know that if folks would compost, this wouldn't be a problem.  But we're talking almost 1.5 million people and, sadly, many of them aren't going to get on board unless things are easy for them.  So, do you know of any sources for heavy-duty paper bags that could be used for people's kitchen garbage? Many thanks for any info or resources you can share.

DeCrafts
DeCrafts

I love this! Thank you!


Maybe to be added, I had a real dilemma about my birth control.  Condoms, pills, patches... what I ended up deciding on (and LOVE) is the copper IUD.  This has been the most effective and non damaging or body altering solution I've found.  I was disturbed how our waste is affecting the reproduction and health of fish! Have you seen how estrogen levels are affecting wild life: http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/south-carolina/local-blog/birth-control-pill-endangers-fish-populations

zambooka
zambooka

I also have a question about a compost. I live in an apartment building, and I've been thinking about getting a worm bin. Does anyone here have one? I have a balcony, can I put them on there? I live in Canada, and it does get cold in the winter, will they survive? I know they survive underground all year in Canada, so I can't see it being an issue. 

zambooka
zambooka

I wrote an email to booster juice asking them to change their environmental practices with their cups. THis was the e-mail I got back. 


Thanks for contacting Booster Juice. I applaud your iniative in trying to do your part by saving extra cups/straws.

Booster Juice is always looking to minimize our impact on the environment. To that end we offer our own reusable cups and offer customers a free booster every time they re use the cup.

Our stores should not actually be using customer provided cups or containers, all smoothies should be served in our styro cups or Booster juice reusable cups.


Regarding the Styrofoam cups, most of the research out ther

e contradicts the long standing public belief that Polystyrene cups are harmful to the environment. The cups of today are nothing like the cups of 30 yrs ago that contained CFCs. CFCs have been banned in polystyrene since 1980. Polystyrene cups are far better insulated than paper cups, thus preserving the product whether it be hot or cold for a much greater length of time. Virtually every paper cup used in the food service industry is NOT recyclable as it is lined with a wax polyethylene compound that prevents the cup from leaking. If the cups were not lined, the liquid would quickly leak out. Most cups whether they be paper or styrene end up in the landfill. Styrene cups are much lighter and take up less space. Tests have shown that coated paper cups do not breakdown or decompose in landfills. The other issue is the production of paper cups is much less environmentally friendly than styrene. Paper making is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes there is, producing more than twice the greenhouse gases than a comparable styro cup and using twelve times as much water as a styro cup.

I hope now you can understand why we continue to use the styro cups. As soon as a better option presents itself, we will investigate it. We encourage everyone to use a reusable cup, as that is the most environmentally friendly thing to do!


Please write emails to booster juice telling them that polystyrene is not good for the environment. 


Thanks. 

zambooka
zambooka

I buy milk from glass bottles and make my own yogurt. I used to buy tons of yogurt in plastic containers. From the glass bottles I also make my own cheese for salads. I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I have the main bags, bulk bags and produce bags. I save all my gift bags, tissue paper, gift boxes and bows. This saves a lot of plastic from the bags these items are stored in. I use cloth napkins, where disposable ones come wrapped in plastic. I use vinegar and water for cleaning supplies. (I buy the biggest tub of vinegar I can find, because I have not been able to find them in glass.) I try to avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic bags. I use a radius toothbrush where I only replace the head. I use abeego wrap instead of cling wrap. I use hankybooks so I can avoid kleenex boxes with the plastic windows. I try to buy from bulk containers a lot. I replace the heads on my razor, even though it's cheaper to buy a new one. I freeze my stuff in stainless steel. I use wash clothes and tea towels instead of paper towels and sponges. I use a diva cup. I use baking soda as my deodorant. I don't buy bottled water instead I use a reusable water bottle. I would like to get my meat from the butcher shop where he agreed to put the meat in my own containers. I get my books from the library. I get my hand soap, laundry detergent, and dish soap bottles refilled from bulk. For the dishwasher I use powder in a cardboard box. I bring waste free lunches to work. (the only waste I generate is my fruit cores/tops.  I bring my own utensils, and collapsible stainless steel cup in my purse. I use stainless steel straws.  Yet somehow I seem to STILL produce a ton of plastic. I don't get it. 

anushiya
anushiya

Great advice for the people those who are all using plastic in all day and i'm also interested in reusable eco friendly bags. thanks for sharing this post..:)

Vakil1992
Vakil1992

What advice do you have for people who have to touch plastic all day? For instance, I am a student who uses the computers at my school for several hours on end daily.  The mouse and keyboard both are made of plastic.  Also, I believe most of the interior and the steering wheel of my car are made of plastic.  Do you think that leather ( thinking about purchasing the ones on toughgloves.com ) gloves would help protect me from the estrogenic activity that can be caused by touching plastic?  If not, would hemp gloves work?  My main concern is honestly with preventing estrogenic activity from occurring within my body from touching plastic.  Or do you think the chmicals in plastic would still leach through the gloves and touch my skin, therefore not help much?  Let me know what kind of gloves you would recommend for me if possible.  They'd have to be tight fitting though, since I am often on the computer.  I would really appreciate this.

AlliePhillips
AlliePhillips

What advice do you have for if we do have a situation where we use plastic? For plastic bags that my veggies come in, I cut them up into small pieces. Is that enough? I find it challenging to go plastic-free, so what practical advice do you have to help us "destroy" plastic before it destroys an animal?

jettafoldsfive
jettafoldsfive

Hi! I am new to the concept of reducing plastic in our lives. I want to start with the kitchen.... first changes are to ditch the coffee maker, yikes! I will immediately stop microwaving in plastic... and stop using plastic "kid dishes" for my 2 and 4 year old kiddos. I have a question that I have been unable to locate ANY information about-- are my corningware/corelle dishes "safe?" They are made of glass technically, but I am not sure if they are "safe," truly. Do you know anything about this?

Livia
Livia

Oh, one more thing.  Instead of water filtration where the water quality is semi-ok, there is a technique of sending water through a vortexing tube that helps restore its freshness and softness and oxygen content.  These metal vortexing tube (in copper and stainless steel) produce water that can freeze faster and harder in skating rinks, keep produce and fresh cut flowers fresher longer, clean a homes pipes out, behaves like a water softener in the laundry, and perks up landscapes more than pre-vortexing.  I have one for my shower head, but they also make them for kitchen faucets and whole house.  No plastic, no moving parts, no filters to replace. 

Livia
Livia

I've recently switched from the plastic produce bags provided at the store to washable, reusable ones made of polyester mesh that are feather-light.  I imagine people could make their own out of reclaimed honeycomb nylon tulle with similar effect (scanner/checker can read the labels, doesn't add weight (and cost).   

I don't like the mercury in CFL bulbs, and the quality of the light is gross.  I favor natural light from windows, going to bed early, and halogen or incandescent lighting when needed.  

Flea treatment - dogs can use essential oils much more safely than cats.  Oh well.  How about an herbal sachet around the neck?

Pet Food - we feed our dog raw meaty bones, raw fish and raw organs.  We have been freezing his day's rations in plastic baggies, but I you've inspired me to try the vintage glass containers instead.  Thanks!

Have you considered alternative health practices the don't involve prescriptions?  

For those who don't care for aged cheese, it isn't hard to make your own mozzerella and goat cheese at home, along with yogurt and kefir and sour cream.  


xyelan
xyelan

Thanks for the great info! Just one thing: I would not repair plastic items, as wear and tear is the trigger that releases chemicals like BPA. Let's continue the quest against plastic domination! :)

grnyr
grnyr

Excellent information! I am stumped about what to do about my britta water filter. It is astounding that they do not make a glass one. I do like to filter my water however how are plastic free folks filtering water?

cheryljoy
cheryljoy

@sunshinedaydream I use a mason jar with a cloth napkin wrapped around it and held on with a couple of rubber bands in matching colors. It looks good, too, choosing appropriate napkins for the season or the occasion. The only problem is the lining on the metal lid, but it's one of my last holdouts also, like Beth.

Marina
Marina

I suppose you could scoop from the middle of the bin where the food hasnt touched the edges.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka It doesn't make sense that they will allow people to use Booster Juice reusable cups but not their own cups.  It can't be a cleanliness issue because there's no guarantee a Booster Juice reusable cup will be cleaned any better than any other cup.  It seems like just a way to make more money.  Also, in their defense of polystyrene, they did not address the toxicity issue.  polystyrene has been found to leach styrene into foods and beverages.  It's also not true that polystyrene takes up less room in landfills. Because it's filled with air, it takes up more.

zambooka
zambooka

I guess I just wanted to ask is if I'm doing enough. Is there another simple way of reducing plastic? Personally I LOVE ravioli and the stuff I buy at the store is often wrapped in a plastic container. Is there a way to get ravioli without making the noodles? I am on a limited time/money budget. I've been trying to make more of an effort to eat at home, and frankly I've not found it to be that much cheaper and in the long run it probably evens out to my previous fast food diet because of the extra time it takes. But I am willing to do it for the environment. Most of the stuff I buy is reusable, good quality, and ethically produced so it's been costing me a small fortune these past 2 years that I hope pays for itself soon. (it definitely already has with the diva cup.) The hardest thing I find is food, and I've also not been able to find toilet paper wrapped in paper either. Is there a special place I can find that? My dental floss has also been a challenge. I also have really dry hair, and the "no poo" method dried it out even more. (I think I just have weird ass hair.) I'd like to know if anyone else has this problem and if they've ever tried the lush shampoo and conditioner bars. Did it work for you? Since using the salon quality stuff my hair has returned back to normal. I'm scared if I stop using it, it'll dry out again. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@Vakil1992 Personally, I am not concerned about simply touching most plastics.  The one exception would be PVC (polyvinyl chloride.)  Try to avoid buying things made from, coated with, or covered in PVC.  School binders, for example.  Backpacks and bags.  Unfortunately, the interior of many cars is made of PVC.  I would be more concerned with breathing the fumes than touching the steering wheel.  PVC offgases -- especially when exposed to heat.  That "new car smell" is phthalates from PVC offgasing. 

It's really hard to completely reduce our exposure to all of these chemicals, and we are all exposed to them when we are out in the world anyway.  The most important thing you can do is work towards updated toxic chemical legislation on a federal and state level.  As long as these chemicals are unregulated, it will be very difficult to eliminate all exposure to them.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@AlliePhillips Hi.  Are you referring to plastic bags for frozen veggies or plastic bags for fresh?  For fresh, as @AnoSinPlastico said, you can throw them in your cloth bag without a plastic produce bag and wash when you get home.  But if you're talking about frozen, maybe consider buying some fresh vegetables and freezing them yourself in glass or metal containers.  Here's how I freeze raw kale:http://myplasticfreelife.com/2013/08/my-morning-zero-waste-green-smoothie/

As for cutting them up, that won't prevent them from harming an animal because animals will just eat the small pieces.  You can take them back to the store to be recycled.  Most stores that accept plastic bags will accept this kind of film as well.  You can also use them to hold any other trash that is headed for the landfill.  

The types of plastic you want to cut up are plastics that animals can get stuck in.  Like 6-pack rings, etc.

AnoSinPlastico
AnoSinPlastico

@AlliePhillips Hey Allie, thought i would chime in.  Take it one step at a time, and before you know it you'll be using hardly any of the plastic you originally did. First look at one-use plastics.  These can be cut out pretty easily (bags, bottles, straws, utensils, coffee mugs). Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle, coffee mug, and a metal fork.  Remember the reusable bag.  Don't buy impulse-buy snacks and candies (the no-plastic-diet has it's benefits :-)  ). 

As for vegetables, just throw them all into your cloth bag, and wash them later.  One tough thing to buy are loose greens.  Even the farmer's markets near me still display these in plastic.

Just think of how much waste would be reduced if everyone took the first steps in plastic reduction!

Marina
Marina

that sounds interesting. Where can you buy these? What brands make these tubes?

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Livia I've always wanted to try making my own cheese. I have most of the equipment needed, now just need to find the time. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@xyelan Hi.  I'm okay with repairing things I'm not going to eat or drink out of.  I sometimes choose to do that rather than purchasing a brand new plastic-free item because all manufacturing requires materials and energy and has an impact on the planet.  But we all have to consider the implications of our choices and make the decision that seems the most right to us.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@grnyr Hey, I just reread your question. I found a product that doesn't contain plastic called Kishu.

You can find more info by checking out their website: http://www.lifewithoutplasticblog.com/2012/11/waters-friend-kishu.html

One thing you might want to do first is to find out what you are trying to eliminate from your tap water. To do this you would first need to have your water tested which can easily be done by purchasing a home water testing kit. By the way, Beth's book Plastic Free has lots of information about testing your tap water and water filters. 

This product isn't certified by the Environmental Working Group and we haven't tried it yet but it's worth looking into. 

zambooka
zambooka

@BethTerry @zambooka  I wrote another email explaining the same things you did, and this is the response I got back. (I have to admit I am kind of impressed that they've written me twice. They are the first company that's ever responded to my second email to them. )


I just wanted to follow up with you and clear up some misconceptions. Booster Juice and our Franchise partners are involved in their communities across the country.

Here is just two recent examples:

In November Booster Juice partnered with JDRF Canada in their biggest fundraising campaign ever that resulted in the largest single donation they received this year in support of Juvenile Diabetes Research. Yesterday Booster Juice announced a partnership with PGA professional Mike Weir whereby Booster Juice will create a month long awareness and fundraising program at our 300 stores nationwide in the goal of advancing physical, emotional and educational welfare of children across Canada.

I will agree with you that all takeaway cups used in food service are not environmentally friendly, that is why we offer the reusable cup option for our customers that want to reduce their environmental impact.  For everyone else, we offer the styrene cup that is proven to be exponentially far more green than its paper counterpart. Whether it be paper or styrene, neither of them decompose.

Thanks again for your interest and feedback.

I'm guessing the first one was a response to when I said that I didn't see the difference between people using the booster juice reusable cups vs the ones they already had and it must be a money thing. The second one was when I said that they were sadly mistaken to think that polystyrene was the best environmental option. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka  Would you be willing to take the Show Your Plastic Challenge and post your plastic waste for the week on the web site?  That way, we can see what challenges you have and give you suggestions.  http://myplasticfreelife.com/showyourplastic/  


One thing I will say... if the "No Poo" method is drying your hair out, you could be using too much baking soda and not enough vinegar.  The acid is essential for restoring the pH of your hair.  On the other hand, it might just not be for you.


We buy our plastic-free toilet paper from Amazon and save money by subscribing: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007636DIW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007636DIW&linkCode=as2&tag=fakplafis-20


Unless you have a pasta shop nearby that will sell you pasta in your own container, I don't know how you could get ravioli without plastic unless you make it yourself.

KarenScribner
KarenScribner

@BethTerry @AlliePhillips @AnoSinPlastico  All of the grocery stores take plastic bags even if you cannot see the container to put it into. Plastic bags include grocery bags, produce bags, drycleaning bags (no paper stapled on) with no receipts in the bags: any bag that does not make a noise. This plastic is used to make the Trex and similar fake wood for decking.

zambooka
zambooka

@BethTerry @AlliePhillips @AnoSinPlastico  I have a hard time with frozen vegetables too. It's just so handy to buy those bags. Plus I live alone, and my fresh stuff goes bad. But I guess what I can do is buy fresh and freeze them myself. I have those "life without plastic" containers now, so I should be able to do it. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka It's great that they took the time to write back again.  I just wish they had answered the actual question... why they won't let customers use their own cups.  Thank you for following up with them.

zambooka
zambooka

@BethTerry @zambooka I would, but I don't have a camera to post the picture of my plastic online. I also have limited space to store my plastic for a week. (my apartment is tiny.)

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@KarenScribner Lol. I know what you mean. I find that if I show them my glass straw, they are more likely to remember my request. :-)

KarenScribner
KarenScribner

@BethTerry  Thanks for your excellent research. I don't take a plastic bag, bring my own bags. When I ask for no dry cleaning bag or straw in my drink, for instance, these things come anyway. I have trouble with service people who are on auto-pilot or brain-affected by RFID, wifi and cell phone signals.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

The problem with Trex is that it cannot be further recycled. But interestingly, I just yesterday spoke with a guy who worked for Safeway's recycling department, and he told me all that plastic film is not shipped to Trex but to China, like the majority of plastic recycling in the United States.