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Happy Plastic Free Month!

 
J.B. Wells
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Today is July 1st and people have been challenging themselves to no plastic in July. I thought I'd share a few videos I liked.


This one was made a few years ago. Good overview and it tackles the issue from a convenience demanding consumer perspective, which is important. It's easier when you do meal prep, grow food, etc.


This one is a recent update. It says that 20 corporations are responsible for half of plastic production. I've heard other similar info blurbs. If the environmental cost is high, why not charge them?!

What else can we do?
 
J.B. Wells
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Here's a video that focuses more on why plastic is so bad. Pollution from factories making new plastic is bad enough. Plus only "9% of all plastic waste has been recycled". It doesn't say if that's an "all time" statistic or for what would be considered current waste, but either way, most of it ends up in the landfill. And the triangle logo on plastics is an identification system for what sort of plastic it's made of, not necessarily a mark of recyclability.

Hopefully with awareness, we can bring this sort of toxic gick in our lives to a minimum.
 
Janice Cohoon
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I make handmade soap so that eliminates the need for plastic bottles and I make body butter and face cream and only use glass jars and bottles. I don't think we could ever go back now, it's just so much better than store bought, our skin feels so clean and toxin free!
We still need to figure out how to reduce plastic waste in our groceries 😒but we do recycle plastic and paper before we dispose of them. So much plastic though!
 
Jesse Glessner
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Well, there is so much plastic in use commercially that it is hard to get around that!

However, I do try to make plastics live a longer life by reusing them.

1. My cat sand buckets become gardening watering and fertilizing buckets and usually last a couple of years at the least.

2. My bird seed bags become a second bag for fertilizers and chemicals that need to be stored in a second bag because of deterioration,

3. My shopping bags get stuffed into to a collector bag. When I get too many I take a couple of the stuffed bags to the local Goodwill-style store where they are always happy to receive the bags to use for customers. And I use some of my excess bags to collect and distribute extra veggies from my garden.
 
Brody Ekberg
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I honestly dont know how most of the people claiming to be “plastic free” do it. I mean, I can imagine being mostly plastic free if you live in an idealistic permaculture type setting, eating and working off the land, spending almost all day outside and using natural building materials. But thats not most of us and certainly not anyone on the internet, with cell phones or trending on social media.

We rely on plastics for so many more things than bags and bottles. It’s everywhere. Clothing, furniture, flooring, tools, technology, greenhouses, pond liners... the fridge, freezer, tv, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, drier, your vehicles, your dogs dishes, the chicken waterer, the tarp you cover your vegetables from frost with, the rain barrel, the 4 wheeler... EVERYWHERE!

Even if we cut most of that out, which would be a mighty feat in itself, I’m willing to bet very few people in this world are actually “plastic free”. They’re just making progress and that’s great. I feel like we need to focus more on recycling and upcycling. Even if we all actually became legitimately plastic free tomorrow, wheres it all going to go? Its here now. We did this. Lets figure it out and stop calling it a problem. Recycling programs, from what I’ve seen, are mostly a charade. 90% of the plastics we have arent “allowed”. We need a system that takes all this shit, melts it down, filters out impurities and makes fuel or something. Or mass produce rain harvesting systems and biodigesters and get them to the general public at as low of a cost as possible. All this worry about the economy and recycling being profitable is garbage. We just need to start making use of all our “waste”.
 
Dawna Janda
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I'm of the same mindset of Brody Ekberg.  I don't know how folks can be plastic free...even with normal every day groceries/house supplies/etc unless they live in an area with very specific stores and/or resources.  Even if I go to a butcher to buy meat as opposed to a grocery store, they are still going to wrap plastic over something....I've tried it several times.

I've been on the path of reducing what goes in our trash cans and recycle bins for years.  Doing decently, but I'm still filling up our recycle bins every couple of weeks with plastics and metals.   Oh......not plastic related, but our area doesn't recycle glass.  If our communities can't figure out how to recycle glass, our chances of recycling the other stuff is low.

Now.....we re-use as much as we can for as long as we can.  Even that has it's limits....storage space, number of uses for different containers, things just wearing out, etc.  I have stashes of jars and buckets with covers and spray bottles and....you get the picture.  There are times I have to cull the collections.  I put items online for free, but no one wants them.  I even make a point in giving suggestions for the items.  ....sigh...

Sorry for this downer post, but I'm glad that others have the same issues.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one that is having these challenges.

 
Tereza Okava
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I hear you both, it also doesn`t seem realistic in my life.
That said, I do use a heck of a lot less plastic than other people I know. I may not be able to hit 0%, but "good" is good enough for me.
I live in a place where reusable grocery bags are still odd enough to invite comments (even though as late as the 1980s they didn't offer then in stores, you had to bring your own cloth bags, according to my mother-in-law). And yet, the second comment (after "what! you have your own bags") is almost always "Imagine what would happen if everyone did this." I'd like to believe one day everyone will! Funny enough, last week at the fruit store, the girl said "you know, you're the third one this morning."
I'm hopeful. We can infect brains with good ideas about reusing, refusing and reducing, even if recycling doesn't seem to be pulling its weight right now.
 
J.B. Wells
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Thank you to everyone.

I think a huge benefit of the challenge of going plastic free is seeing the ubiquity of plastic so we can start dealing with it. I agree that using plastic that's here is necessary and ideal.

If problem solving is our focus, identifying the problems first will help. These are my thoughts:

1. Making more new plastic is a problem.
2. Plastic disposal is a problem.
3. Plastic recycling and reuse is not done well yet.

If we further break the problems down into more manageable issues, then we can identify how we can improve. Many approaches with varying impacts! Personal changes are great but big problems call for bigger solutions.

What would you say are the problems?
 
Brody Ekberg
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Dawna Janda wrote:I'm of the same mindset of Brody Ekberg.  I don't know how folks can be plastic free...even with normal every day groceries/house supplies/etc unless they live in an area with very specific stores and/or resources.  Even if I go to a butcher to buy meat as opposed to a grocery store, they are still going to wrap plastic over something....I've tried it several times.

I've been on the path of reducing what goes in our trash cans and recycle bins for years.  Doing decently, but I'm still filling up our recycle bins every couple of weeks with plastics and metals.   Oh......not plastic related, but our area doesn't recycle glass.  If our communities can't figure out how to recycle glass, our chances of recycling the other stuff is low.

Now.....we re-use as much as we can for as long as we can.  Even that has it's limits....storage space, number of uses for different containers, things just wearing out, etc.  I have stashes of jars and buckets with covers and spray bottles and....you get the picture.  There are times I have to cull the collections.  I put items online for free, but no one wants them.  I even make a point in giving suggestions for the items.  ....sigh...

Sorry for this downer post, but I'm glad that others have the same issues.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one that is having these challenges.



I feel you. We have a questionable recycling program here as well and they dont take glass because they cant make money off of it...

Recycling is such a joke here that, like you, we would rather reuse stuff. But it gets out of hand. We save all sorts of jars and containers, plastic bags and bottles. I’ve been poking holes in the bottoms of containers and using them as planters. It helps, but like you said, there’s only so much space to store things and the plastic keeps on coming. I feel like in order to cut plastic from ones life, one would need to cut the majority of society and western life out as well. And thats fine and maybe even recommended, but its a slow process for people who have debt and spouses that dont want to forage for every meal, quit their job and start making their own yogurt at home!

Personally, I try not to wear any microfibers or fleece and limit all plastic in my clothing as much as possible. We recycle, reuse and upcycle as much as we reasonably can (sometimes unreasonably). I try to limit any packaged snack foods (cliff bars, larabars) to times when I’m kind of desperate and dont have any other better choices. Although progress is slow, it’s still progress and that’s what matters I suppose.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Tereza Okava wrote:I hear you both, it also doesn`t seem realistic in my life.
That said, I do use a heck of a lot less plastic than other people I know. I may not be able to hit 0%, but "good" is good enough for me.
I live in a place where reusable grocery bags are still odd enough to invite comments (even though as late as the 1980s they didn't offer then in stores, you had to bring youry own cloth bags, according to my mother-in-law). And yet, the second comment (after "what! you have your own bags") is almost always "Imagine what would happen if everyone did this." I'd like to believe one day everyone will! Funny enough, last week at the fruit store, the girl said "you know, you're the third one this morning."
I'm hopeful. We can infect brains with good ideas about reusing, refusing and reducing, even if recycling doesn't seem to be pulling its weight right now.



It took us about a year to really get good at actually remembering to bring all our reusable bags into the store with us instead of just leaving them behind the seat of the car. We finally got into the habit and the great panic happened. No more reusable bags allowed! After a year or more of that, we’re back trying to get into the habit of bringing our bags with again! But yes, we’re definitely a minority in that respect. More people are doing it though, and our local grocery store, as overpriced as it is, offers a tiny discount if you bring your own bags. Plus they sell them there at the checkout, so that’s all good!
 
Brody Ekberg
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J.B. Iler wrote:Thank you to everyone.

I think a huge benefit of the challenge of going plastic free is seeing the ubiquity of plastic so we can start dealing with it. I agree that using plastic that's here is necessary and ideal.

If problem solving is our focus, identifying the problems first will help. These are my thoughts:

1. Making more new plastic is a problem.
2. Plastic disposal is a problem.
3. Plastic recycling and reuse is not done well yet.

If we further break the problems down into more manageable issues, then we can identify how we can improve. Many approaches with varying impacts! Personal changes are great but big problems call for bigger solutions.

What would you say are the problems?



I 100% agree. Im no scientist, but if we can send people on joy rides through space and spend millions on movies, I think we can figure out a way to stop making new plastics. I realize maybe through recycling, everything gets downgraded. Thats fine, figure it out. If people’s priorities were on sustainability or having a world in which we can have grandchildren, we wouldn’t worry about how economical recycling. There has to be a way to filter, clean or purify plastics somehow, and if there isn’t, then clearly its a dead end street. If we cant figure out how to make low quality, dirty plastics usable again then stopping their production needs to be a priority regardless of what effect it has on whoever or whatever.

Convenience of recycling and awareness are huge as well. I think many places are getting decent recycling programs, but many are not yet there. Same goes for awareness. Many people are aware of their usage and the problems and are addressing that, but many other people are ignorant to these things, or are aware but dont care enough to change. I have faith that they will either come around on their own or get wiped out... either way, nature will take care of herself!
 
Jennifer Pomy
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It’s been a journey, but once you start stepping back from the consumer bandwagon and looking for cleaner, safer alternatives to mainstream gick; reducing the amount of garbage you produce is a byproduct.

Here in a town in upstate NY it amazes me that each Thursday most houses have a HUGE overflowing garbage can and an equally large and full can of recycling. You pay a low monthly fee for the service. But doesn’t anyone ever think about the overwhelming amount of waste that is…just in one small town…then multiply that by all the towns in our area….and I already can barely comprehend where all of it is supposed to go…let alone the whole state…country…every week!! I just don’t understand why people don’t think about those things. It really blows my mind.

I’m not perfect and I still use plastic and throw things away, but I try my best. One thing I do is reuse plastic bags from food like tortilla chips and use to cover plates of leftovers instead of cling wrap or dirtying a storage bowl. When we use the leftovers the bag gets used again as my “chicken scraps bucket” for the day.
 
J.B. Wells
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Jennifer Pomykaj wrote:But doesn’t anyone ever think about the overwhelming amount of waste that is…just in one small town…then multiply that by all the towns in our area….and I already can barely comprehend where all of it is supposed to go…let alone the whole state…country…every week!! I just don’t understand why people don’t think about those things. It really blows my mind.



I often think like this too. It's hard to understand how this became normal. What if you had to live with the garbage you brought home? I bet many people would refuse to bring things home if they were stuck with it, and the norm for unnecessary packaging and cheap crappy products would lessen.

For the same reason it's hard to store the things that might be reused. At some point, you have to draw the line for yourself because it easily can be too much. I've been making better choices. I've gone from "Hey that's a great deal, I'll take eight!" and "That's cool, might be useful, I'll haul it away, why not" to "How many of these can I really use?" and "How much do I need this?" and "I have projects at home I haven't even started" and "I bet someone else would really love this." I'm getting much better at prioritizing for myself.
 
Dawna Janda
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J.B. Iler wrote:Thank you to everyone.

I think a huge benefit of the challenge of going plastic free is seeing the ubiquity of plastic so we can start dealing with it. I agree that using plastic that's here is necessary and ideal.

If problem solving is our focus, identifying the problems first will help. These are my thoughts:

1. Making more new plastic is a problem.
2. Plastic disposal is a problem.
3. Plastic recycling and reuse is not done well yet.

If we further break the problems down into more manageable issues, then we can identify how we can improve. Many approaches with varying impacts! Personal changes are great but big problems call for bigger solutions.

What would you say are the problems?



I think you have outlined the problems well!  I also think that like everything else out there, solving the problems starts with individual consumers.  If we stop using/purchasing products with plastic, the manufacturers will get the hint and we'll see less virgin plastics and/or more comprehensive recycle programs.  Unfortunately, there's not the ground swell of people demanding less plastic as of yet.  We all know the problem....but on top of the non-availability for alternatives, it's inconvenient to do anything about it for most people.

I'm a BIG believer in leading by example.  Whether they say it or not, people notice things.  I get comments/compliments all the time on my grocery bags (I sewed them myself out of scrap fabrics I had) and I tell folks how awesome they are.  My neighbors have wondered why we don't set out our trash cans or recycle bins but once every couple of weeks.   This isn't part of the discussion, but the way we maintain our yard/gardens (which are pretty darn lush) gets a lot of inquiries from our neighbors and I tell them that we don't use chemicals...hmmm...i guess that COULD  be part of this discussion as a lot of the chemicals come in plastic...okay, cool...back on track.  8 )

We are planting seeds all the time.....but sometimes the germination isn't as high as we want it to be.  However, I believe the seeds that do flourish will grow and spread.

For all of us trying to make a difference, we will keep at it.  When someone notices how wonderful something we've done is, we quietly explain.  I always add in my cost savings and how much better things are (i.e. nice to know I'm helping the environment, I have more energy to get through my day, my skin feels better, we get more flowers/birds/butterflies, etc).  People want to know what's in it for them here, right now....just like the manufacturers and recycling programs.

LOVE this conversation!  Thank you for starting it!  8 )
 
Brody Ekberg
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Here’s a Joe Rogan podcast with Dr. Shanna Swan that I listened to the other day. Very informative, definitely scary and a little bit funny. All about plastics effects on our reproductive systems, our unborn children and our future. Definitely worth a listen!

https://open.spotify.com/episode/6pLW2tMx4Kw5qaeAcxj0Lj?si=2mAro7vPQg6tKjH0S3Ok6A&dl_branch=1
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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July is almost over, though this is a great conversation to keep having.

Some folks simplify the challenge by taking it to mean single use plastics because not many of us will actually give up our phones, computers, and cars--all of which have plastic.

I've got two things to add to the conversation.

1. This thread is older but has tons of images and examples for ways to use less plastic:
https://permies.com/t/57413/Plastic-free-July-challenge-inspiration.

2. I just found this image - just replace zero waste with going "plastic free"


 
bruce Fine
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July is over, but I would ideally like to live my life plastic free.
I was going to start a new topic but there are already a bunch
I've been reading more and more about potential dangers to our health from plastics. and think I might have been poisoning myself by using stuff packed in plastic.
but plastics are everywhere it seems
for example ive had problem getting good water to drink for years and Ive been drinking plastic bottled water and I want to stop it immediately
I did quite a bit of research as to what water filtration options I could trust and I bit the bullet and ordered a Berkey filter so hopefully tomorrow I will no longer have to drink water out of plastic container ever again.
ive been thinking it would be best to eliminate all plastic from my life. but how is this possible when just about everything and anything that you get from a store is packed in plastic, then wrapped in plastic then put in a plastic bag.
I have a reusable bag for groceries. but like even buying bulk stuff at Whole Foods you have to put the stuff in plastic bag, unless I guess you bring your own paper bags with you.
anyone else feel like they want to eliminate use of plastic in their life.
I'm open to all and any suggestions
 
Nancy Reading
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Bruce,
First don't panic! You've been using plastic for years and it hasn't killed you yet.  I also think cutting out plastic altogether is impossible unless you live in a wofati house and don't use electricity, drive a car, use money (our notes are plastic now in UK).  But reducing 'single use' plastic seems like a worthwhile endevour.
Second don't sweat the small stuff.  There are easy changes you can make that can make a big difference, before you start aiming at perfection.  Using filtered rather than bottled water is a great start: there was a study from Barcelona published this week that said bottled water has 3500x the environmental impact of tap water (Guardian.
If health is your biggest concern then look at your food. Can you grow more yourelf, can you buy in bulk rather than plastic? Have you a local farm shop where you can buy local unwrapped produce? Yes you can take your own containers to fill up - they can even be reusable fabric bags, rather than paper or plastic.  You can find these online to buy, or make you own from old shirts perhaps.  Glass jars are another popular choice.
Look at what you put in your bin on a regular basis that is plastic. Research online for alternatives.  Many toiletries can be changed for zero waste alternatives  - shampoo bars are great for travel as well, soap bars are so much more economical than liquid soap. Even toothpaste could be changed for powder formulations.
I try and get as many uses out of 'single use' plastics as possible. It always seems a pity to put a perfectly good bottle in the recycling, if it can be used again as a bottle for example.
Well done and good luck with your efforts.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Nancy is right, small changes can add up and be less overwhelming.

bruce Fine wrote:I have a reusable bag for groceries. but like even buying bulk stuff at Whole Foods you have to put the stuff in plastic bag, unless I guess you bring your own paper bags with you.


Good for you!

Some stores have paper bags, not just plastic, for bulk foods. Sometimes they only have them by the mushrooms or the potatoes, so I'll grab them from there to use for other produce or for bulk foods.

If all you have to get the bulk foods is a plastic bag, look at it this way:  a plastic bag is less plastic waste than a plastic jar or a plastic container. It weighs less/is less total plastic. So at least that's something!

Plus, some stores have plastic bag recycling (they might be required to have it if they give out plastic shopping bags in some areas), and I think the bulk food plastic bags would qualify to be included in those bins.
 
Tereza Okava
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
If all you have to get the bulk foods is a plastic bag, look at it this way:  a plastic bag is less plastic waste than a plastic jar or a plastic container. It weighs less/is less total plastic. So at least that's something!


I'm so glad you replied to this one- there are still ways around some of these things. I keep the plastic produce bags and use them as many times as I can get away with. Where I live the produce people put a sticker on the bag with the price, so if I can convince them to put a new sticker over the old one, I can use it as many times as I want to (if they resist, I turn the bag inside out, or save it to use at a store where they're not so difficult). I also have old net bags from buying onions, oranges, etc in bulk that I use, as well as some reusable shopping bags made of parachute fabric, they're all ideal for buying produce and weigh next to nothing.
Reusing the plastic bags is not perfect-- but I figure, I'm using half, a quarter, a tenth of the bags I could be using. It's not zero, but it's steadily approaching it.
 
bruce Fine
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as far as the "hasn't killed you yet" I feel like its a slow moving train wreck or the frog brought slowly to boil in the pot.
the more I learn about it these chemicals accumulate in bio organisms. and some research has been done but there is a lot that is not known.
the whole premise for this site to share ways to live a more better life though more natural options. I only hope that I can do my part to make the world a better place.
I won't get into details because the bots will void my addition to this conversation.
 
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Infect brains with permaculture! Give out gobs of the permaculture playing cards
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