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Plastic-free July challenge, inspiration, tips, and support  RSS feed

 
Destiny Hagest
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Hey everyone, I stumbled across this article the other day and thought it was a cool idea - one of those month long projects where you can really focus your energy on making progress in an area of your life.

Plastic-Free July Challenge


So the idea is that you go on a sort of plastic "fast", where you refrain from buying, throwing away, and generally contributing to plastic in landfills for a month. This is done with the expectation that it is hard, so don't feel discouraged by the seemingly impossibility of the task.

Throughout the month, any plastic waste you acquire will go in a sort of 'reflections' bag, that you can evaluate when it's over, and determine what you could have done to avoid that particular wad of plastic.

I know challenges like this can come across as a bit high and mighty, and make some people feel like it's a competition to be the "most green" or whatever, and I just want to point out that it's not about showing the world what plastic-consuming jerks they are, it's about really taking the time to evaluate what we consume and how often we consume it, and self improvement.

No pressure, no judgments, we're all here to learn

That being said, I would love for this thread to become a place for plastic free product links, progress check-ins, and encouragement - like a Whole30 for your plastic consumption! Who's in?!

 
Destiny Hagest
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I know before I saw this link, I went to the store, where I bought toilet paper (wrapped in plastic)I just found this nice alternative to plastic wrapped toilet paper that I think I'll be switching to from here on out:



Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue, 2 ply - case of 60
 
Destiny Hagest
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Here's one of my new favorite online retailers for plastic-free living too - Life Without Plastic sells so many unique products, from wooden toothbrushes to stainless steel popsicle molds!

For those of us with kiddos, this is a great site for getting plastic free gear in particular.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Here's a simple little way to line a trash can without using plastic bags!
 
Charli Wilson
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Just thinking about this for today makes my head hurt!
This morning I fed the cats, raw mince that comes in a plastic bag, and arrived in a cardboard box with loads of plastic packing peanuts in. Other options- plastic coated cans aren't exactly any better, dry kibble comes in plastic bags too.

Next, had a cup of tea. My teabags have thermoplastic in- I haven't been able to find any fruit tea in non plastic containing teabags.

Walked to work- no plastic there! At work all drinks are in washable cups, woot. The tea machine does use plastic though (it uses annoying sachets, rather than letting you have hot water to use real tea bags), the concentrate drink comes in a plastic bottle.

Lunch- cooked at work, probably arrives in plastic, though the company buys in massive bulk so that probably helps.

Ate an iced lolly, that came wrapped in plastic. Later ate a protein flapjack thing- again plastic wrapping. Cleaned teeth- plastic toothbrush, with toothpaste in a plastic tube.

Partners birthday present arrived in the post, in a glass bottle, in a cardboard box- with plastic selotape on.

So what can I do about any of this? I need to look into buying loose leaf tea and a tea strainer of some kind (the housekeeping crew at work aren't going to like me!). Not eating rubbish like ice lollys won't hurt me, shouldn't be eating them anyway!

I could get away with not buying any plastic for a month, but that would be because I had everything stockpiled beforehand, which isn't quite the point.

Feeding the cats is an ethical nightmare and I haven't worked out a good affordable way yet. They eat raw but I have to buy it pre minced as I don't have and cannot afford a grinder, and even if I had one where would I get affordable meat for it? The butchers won't supply scraps so I'd be buying premium muscle meat.

Is this the right place for this post? I'm not offering advice or support or inspiration- more asking for it!
 
r ranson
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Destiny Hagest wrote:Here's one of my new favorite online retailers for plastic-free living too - Life Without Plastic sells so many unique products, from wooden toothbrushes to stainless steel popsicle molds!

For those of us with kiddos, this is a great site for getting plastic free gear in particular.


I adore Life Without Plastic.  I bought all my Christmas gifts from them last year and a tiffin for myself which I use every time I need to pack a lunch.
 
Dawn Montague
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Currently reading this book: https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Free-How-Kicked-Plastic-Habit/dp/163220665X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467647000&sr=1-1&keywords=plastic+free
Like Charli wrote, this is a monumental task in today's economy. It's amazing what you can find plastic in!

This book also has some good ideas: https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Waste-Home-Ultimate-Simplifying/dp/1451697686/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467647184&sr=1-2&keywords=plastic+free
 
K Putnam
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One of the areas I would love to improve is figuring out how to get food home from the store or the market, i.e. say I wanted to buy bulk rice from the bin.  Our local co-op used to let us bring in our own containers (probably in violation of the health code) but I now live where my only grocery store options are large stores...though I admit I walked out of the co-op with plenty of plastic as well (bagged veggies, etc). 
 
R Scott
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This is a tough goal in today's world.  Not easy, but most good things aren't. 

I have stopped buying bottled water, I carry a jug of water from home all the time.  But that was more to avoid fluoride and bpa in me than help the environment.

I buy most of my staples in BULK, like Costco packages are too small bulk, to reduce packaging in general. That is to be able to afford organic non GMO for my family of 11 living in the middle of nowhere.

I buy no prepackaged food, but again that is for my diet more than the environment.


So I guess I am saying: take care of YOURSELF and the environment does better, too!

Isn't it easier to do something when you see what's in it for you?
 
Bonnie Kuhlman
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I have been reducing my plastic use for many years.  I reuse glass bottles for water bottles; I use my own reusable market bags; I store leftovers in glass baking dishes, but even these have plastic lids.  The things I find difficult are the groceries I purchase: sour cream comes in plastic; most yogurt come in plastic (I've found 1 brand in a jar); bread, tortillas, chips, crackers all come in plastic; most produce: berries, lettuce, carrots, etc. come in some form of plastic. 

Has anyone found solutions to these other than making your own? 

Thanks for posting this Destiny.  I'd really like to reduce my plastic even more.

Bonnie
 
Terry Dunn
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So excited to see that you are promoting a plastic fast. I have been toying with the idea for a month or so and was at an Impasse as to how it might become a 'bio-accumulator. This is how. I am in!
 
R Scott
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:I have been reducing my plastic use for many years.  I reuse glass bottles for water bottles; I use my own reusable market bags; I store leftovers in glass baking dishes, but even these have plastic lids.  The things I find difficult are the groceries I purchase: sour cream comes in plastic; most yogurt come in plastic (I've found 1 brand in a jar); bread, tortillas, chips, crackers all come in plastic; most produce: berries, lettuce, carrots, etc. come in some form of plastic. 

Has anyone found solutions to these other than making your own? 

Thanks for posting this Destiny.  I'd really like to reduce my plastic even more.

Bonnie


Buy fruit and veg from a farmer's market. Go gluten free dairy free
 
Tristan Vitali
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By all means, reducing your plastic "intake" is ideal, but reducing to none is one thing that seemingly just can't be accomplished these days. But reuse of the plastic you do find yourself with is a very viable option. Remember, this stuff is persistent - it lasts for years/decades/centuries before breaking down and "recycling" isn't as easy or energy efficient as they'd like us to believe (they...them...). If you're going to end up with it no matter what you do, it's probably better to figure out what to do with it all in a constructive way rather than closing your eyes, throwing it in a recycle bin, and hoping the authorities have their heads on straight.

So...we save it up. We use plastic bags, wrappers, meat trays and other sheet form plastics or foams for insulation materials in walls and ceilings of otherwise natural structures. This in place of fiberglass insulation, expensive "recycled denim", or even the supposedly (but not really) "sustainably" harvested wood chips and sawdust from the local saw mills that we'd have to pay for. And the plastic bottles and containers are always very easy to repurpose and always super handy.

Just for reference, we came out here to the boonies in mid-2013, at which point we began the great "no such thing as trash" oddessy. We currently have 4 or 5 plastic bags full of "tin cans" from store bought foods that we're using as seed and tree guards (they naturally rust away before girdling the trees). Each tree seed gets one can in the ground to protect from tunneling rodents and another on top to protect from nibblers as they sprout...more cans are added as the seedling grows until it can fend for itself.

We have only 3 or 4 bags full of sheet plastics and the like left with all the rest of what was saved over the years (probably 30 more bags worth) already acting as wall insulation and green roof membrane cushioning.

Bottles and other plastic containers, always seemingly in short supply, are reused for holding liquid until they begin leaking, at which point they become pots for seed starting (we have one and a half garbage bags full of these containers for seed starting - all the rest are in active rotation for making ice during winter or growing sprouts, holding dried herbs, measuring out feed for the animals, storing the egg surplus...the list goes on).

Cardboard has either used when firing up the RMH over the winter or saved up for use in sheet mulching projects - we never have enough paper and cardboard available and often talk about making trips to town to scavenge more.

Composting, both pile and worm styles, take care of all our "garbage".

So what do we end up throwing in the "trash"? Broken glass and spent alkaline batteries, both of which we have no safe way of reusing thusfar. That's about it. Everything else has found use.

The way I view it is that I paid for that packaging along with the food, product or whatever the extraneous plastics came with. Throwing it away is akin to throwing away money. Damn right I'm going to use it for something
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I found a dental floss that comes in a little cardboard box.  The floss itself is still a form of polymer, a plastic.  I did find a dental floss made of silk (it came in a plastic box), and I bought them both.  When I floss, sometimes I use baking soda to polish between my teeth.  The silk floss did not standup to the bkg soda, even when doubled.  Still when I found both products (side by side in the dental care row) I was very excited.  I just wonder when the silk floss makers will ditch the plastic box!
 
Destiny Hagest
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Charli Wilson wrote:This morning I fed the cats, raw mince that comes in a plastic bag, and arrived in a cardboard box with loads of plastic packing peanuts in. Other options- plastic coated cans aren't exactly any better, dry kibble comes in plastic bags too.

Pet food is tricky, I know. Before I started on this journey, I was all about acquiring animal companions, and after working at a vet's office for years and a pet store, I've taken in 3 dogs and a cat, in addition to our ducks and chickens. I too have a hard time producing feed, since we don't butcher, hunting season is, well, seasonal, and doesn't yield enough scrap to feed three dogs all year. My suggestion would definitely be to just source foods that come in paper bags - my dogs are currently eating Whole Earth Farms, which definitely comes in plastic, so I'm searching for a high quality but affordable alternative at the moment. My cat eats cheaper food, more as a supplement, since she's primarily outdoors and an excellent hunter.

Charli Wilson wrote:Lunch- cooked at work, probably arrives in plastic, though the company buys in massive bulk so that probably helps.


I would definitely bring your own lunch

Charlie Wilson wrote:Cleaned teeth- plastic toothbrush, with toothpaste in a plastic tube.

There are a lot of recipes for toothpaste you can make yourself, with ingredients that come in paper or glass packaging, but I know a lot of people that don't use toothpaste at all and just oil pull. As for toothbrushes, these wooden ones are something on my list to order when ours need replacing, although again, with oil pulling, you don't even really have to brush.

Charli Wilson wrote:So what can I do about any of this? I need to look into buying loose leaf tea and a tea strainer of some kind

I primarily drink coffee, which I buy in bulk in those paper bags and run through this stainless steel strainer directly into my cup, but I also love to buy my tea in bulk from this little shop downtown, where I imagine you can also bring in your own cloth bags to avoid them giving you a plastic one (I had a lady make some muslin produce bags for me that work fine for this). And of course, these stainless steel tea strainers are the bomb diggity for avoiding tea bag packaging - I love these because I can leave them in my cup and bob them around for extra flavor while I sip! There are even cute little mason jar ready kits like these that are perfect for plastic free brewing of any kind.

Charli Wilson wrote:I could get away with not buying any plastic for a month, but that would be because I had everything stockpiled beforehand, which isn't quite the point.

I agree, I feel the point of this is to get away from buying plastic period, which of course is just crazy hard. One thing I've started doing is buying in bulk my dry goods at the local health food store we shop at - we just recently started bringing in our own containers. Of course, this stuff gets weighed on the scale, so you want something fabric, not glass or stainless steel. In a pinch I've reused some old potato bags and stuff too, but again, plastic = yuck, so we're trying to get away from that as well.

I live a ways from town, so I buy a lot of stuff ahead anyway. One thing I'm going to start ordering in bulk online though is this toilet paper - it comes packaged in absolutely zero plastic.

Charli Wilson wrote:Is this the right place for this post? I'm not offering advice or support or inspiration- more asking for it!


That is perfectly fine Charli, I think this post is an equally good place to troubleshoot our plastic woes - it's a BEAR of an issue to tackle!

I think the point of this experiment though is to force us to focus on evolving our lives around avoiding plastic - figure out where we use it, and then find a way to eliminate it, whatever it takes. My biggest struggle is going to be freezer storage - We deep freeze a lot of meat here, and I'm not sure about any ways to create an air tight seal on meats and produce in the freezer, other than freezer safe jars (which isn't really suitable for anything that would leave air pockets anyway).
 
Destiny Hagest
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Also, due to a lot of research I've done over the years, homemade laundry soap isn't a viable option for this particular household. Our cloth diaper detergent comes in a plastic bottle, and there's no getting around that - the only solution is to hand wash and change to a soap-based detergent, but we don't have a hand washing station set up yet, and it's not really feasible year round in our location.

However, there is a GREAT alternative for standard laundry detergents I stumbled across - it's a mail to your door service that you can cancel at any time. I just signed up and am kind of ridiculously excited about it. It's called Green Fills, and it's a system that sends you one plastic container, then refills from there on out, all in biodegradable packaging. And of course, all of the products are clean and eco-friendly as well.

I'm doing a bit more research to see if the formula is machine/cloth diaper approved, but I suspect it's not, just because I believe it's plant based and surfectant free. Either way though, for the rest of my laundry, I am SUPER excited - no more throwing away those MASSIVE detergent bottles!
 
Destiny Hagest
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:

Has anyone found solutions to these other than making your own? 

Thanks for posting this Destiny.  I'd really like to reduce my plastic even more.

Bonnie


Actually Bonnie, aside from going dairy free, this is something I've also given a lot of thought (because hot DAMN do I love cheese!). One thing that occurred to me was buying cheese direct at the deli counters, and we even have a wine store in town that sells more artisan style cheeses, like Manchego and goat, but they sell them by weight like at the deli counter. I would say, bring your own containers there, but then you run into the issue of it not being airtight in a fabric bag (those are my go-tos for produce and dry bulk goods these days). So maybe the solution is to have the person at the counter weigh them on the piece of wax paper they use, then hand them your glass or stainless steel container to put it in.

For chips and crackers, I only started buying these when I had a snackaholic toddler enter the picture, but short of making them, your best bet is to just replace them with snack goods from local bakeries - you wind up having to adjust your habits, but I think I would welcome the change from organic cheddar bunny crackers to torn up pieces of sourdough

It is TRICKY! We actually just got groceries before I got this idea, so I have an embarrassing amount of plastic in my kitchen right now, but I'm hoping to cycle it out and go a month when that's over to reevaluate things.
 
Erica Wisner
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:I have been reducing my plastic use for many years.  I reuse glass bottles for water bottles; I use my own reusable market bags; I store leftovers in glass baking dishes, but even these have plastic lids.  The things I find difficult are the groceries I purchase: sour cream comes in plastic; most yogurt come in plastic (I've found 1 brand in a jar); bread, tortillas, chips, crackers all come in plastic; most produce: berries, lettuce, carrots, etc. come in some form of plastic. 

Has anyone found solutions to these other than making your own? 

Thanks for posting this Destiny.  I'd really like to reduce my plastic even more.

Bonnie


There are a few alternatives that involve less plastic - our grocers have a lot of veggies without bags, and I will sometimes snag paper bags from the mushroom or fruit areas (or just grab a few carrots unbagged, for that matter).  Unfortunately it's sometimes a choice between organic from far away in plastic, or non-organic (probably also from far away) in bulk.  I just keep looking for bulk, organic, less or no plastic.  For me that means co-op first, then stop at 1 or 2 other grocers if there were any items I didn't find there.

Farmer's markets often provide wonderful fresh produce and you can bring your own bags. 

A few kinds of chips come in paper bags, and crackers in cardboard boxes, but usually there is a plastic liner.  I suppose looking for the packages with the least plastic is worth doing (cardboard box with a very thin plastic liner, no plastic trays).  Occasionally I will find a brand that does just waxed cardboard, no trays or liner, but it's rare.
Maybe there's a happy middle ground between making your own, and changing your habits - for example, baguettes make good bruschetta (little slices of bread, oven-toasted) which is like crackers but you can often get the baguettes in paper or without bags from a local baker.  Some friends routinely store bread in the breadbox, not a bag, because it's so much more useful to have dried bread (for breadcrumb coatings etc) than moldy bread.

Lids: I think durable, reusable containers (or lids that fit many different bowls) are one of the more appropriate uses for plastic. 
Humans have used bitumen to repair broken pottery, and tars and oils and waxes to line waterproof pots and oiled-leather skins for holding water and drinks, for a very long time.  Modern plastics continue to be a good tool for this job, and may even be more food-safe than pre-industrial alternatives.  Of course, if you can use a natural wax that is more food-safe than a mystery plastic, that's wonderful.  There were some nice threads about making home-made oilcloth food wrappers - basically some melted beeswax and food-grade oil, soaking a piece of cotton or linen, and a couple of buttons with a string makes a re-usable tie-down flap.  They won't last forever, but by the time they grunge out, they're probably better fire or garden fodder than your average snack baggie.  (Confession: I get a lot of use out of snack baggies, though that includes re-using any suitable zip bag from the deli, tortillas, etc.)

Food storage generally: Dried foods are easy to store in glass jars, even easier than canning fresh produce. 
If part of the problem is that you can't get fresh local produce year-round, maybe it's worth looking into bulk buying seasonally, or finding someone locally who's into drying and preserving the local crop. 
You can get more uses out of freezer containers by whole-freezing things (berries, tomatoes, etc. can be frozen whole on cookie trays, then repackaged into any convenient container).  Airtight containers definitely improve freezer stay time, which is another place that durable, re-usable plastic might be appropriate.  Or you can cycle things out of the freezer and into dry storage as fast as your time allows.

Other than making your own: Do you have friends who make their own? 
Even if you don't have the time or inclination, sometimes you can hook up with a few die-hards and benefit from their surplus.
I often run short of little plastic tubs when making cheese from episodic surplus milk.  If you lived locally and liked my cheese, it would not be hard to kick your purchased tubs back into circulation for a few more uses. 
Same idea as handing back the old carton when getting new eggs from a local farmer.   Patronizing local bakers helps keep them in business.  There is no reason that everybody has to make everything. 
The more of a regular customer you are, the more likely they'll take graciously to your idea of having them wrap your bread in your cloth thingy, instead of a plastic bag. And of course, some local dairies or premium delis make it part of their brand identity to provide sturdy, re-usable glass containers with a hefty deposit.  In Portland's New Seasons deli, I would pay $1 extra for desserts in a glass pudding dish, and know it's a fair price whether I keep the dish or return it for the deposit.

I have no problem with paper take-out containers (good fire-starters, OK compost liners, or I let the dogs play with them until they are indistinguishable from mulch).  Compostable containers is definitely a tick on the positive side when I'm considering whether to go back to the same place or try someplace new.  Same with paper picnicware.  We do keep a set of reusable camp kitchen gear in the car, but occasionally we do like to indulge in mainstream culture.  I suppose aluminum foil is next best - it's not recyclable here, but it seems more re-usable than styrofoam.

One of the hardest parts of this challenge for me is the amount we travel.  Even if we're not staying in a hotel, there's a lot more shopping in unfamiliar places, a lot more limited options for bulk and food storage, and the whole hospitality dance of having our hosts accommodate special dietary needs as well as less-junk preferences.  Some days I need a cup of tea before I can remember where I left my travel mug; convenience is hard to resist.  But we just do our best, and try to create new habits despite the temptations.

Nobody has mentioned the whole elephant of how much plastic we use for more durable, but still eventually disposable, goods.  Clothing, car parts, car fluids.
I don't know about your cars, but mine is old enough that I'm frequently reminded of its plastic components (a few of them are wearing out and falling loose, or being savaged by my dog on the off chance that they are covering the secret escape hatch from a time-out).  But I'm far more disgusted by the benzene in car exhaust, and the unavoidable question of where the grease or oil WENT when I have to re-apply lubricants to the car engine or bike chain, than I am by the synthetic upholstery or rubbery gaskets and tires.  A bicycle with graphite-lubricated chain and gears is a lot less of an exposure load on the environment, even counting the wrappers on some energy bars.


The absolute easiest way to meet this challenge is probably to get your garden into full gear by June, and spend July putting up the local harvest instead of buying outside supplies. 
Thinking that gardening for 100% of your diet is "easy" really highlights the whole difficulty of this challenge. 
If you don't count the car or fuel as "plastic use," or are lucky enough to live within cycling range, then hitting a farmer's market, local dairy, and local bakery a couple of times per week is probably the next easiest.
 
Tyler Ludens
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This is a really great thread.  My main way of reducing plastic is to avoid buying things and avoid working for money, since my work requires the use of plastics.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Rural Montana is a place with some unique challenges - we have a very limited growing season here, our last frost date is June 6, so we usually put our garden outside after that date, and even then, we had a couple of light frosts after that date this season.

Then of course, we only have steel and aluminum recycling in the closest major city, no plastic, which even still is an hour away. It's frustrating. Then of course, our farmer's market is limited, and a lot of the produce gets brought in from Washington and Oregon - very little fruit is grown in Montana.

Produce bags like these have been one big change that have really made a difference for me though, having to buy so much produce in the store.
 
Erica Daly
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My improvements on reducing plastic come with strange looks from people. The grocery store cashiers don't like cleaning up produce bits that fall off, so I started using a plastic bag for say broccoli. When I get home, I remove it from the bag, turn inside out to dry and put it with my reusable bags, to reuse for purchasing produce, until it dies.  I reuse bread bags for bringing sandwiches, etc to work. And for storing cooked meat in frig when I run out of smaller containers, then eventually is used for holding garbage. My wood pellet bags are used for trash. They are reused until they smell or are otherwise gross. They are great for holding leaves, etc. They are also my recycling can/bottle/glossy newspaper containers. I keep plastic juice bottles that my mother keeps giving me and reuse for house hold water storage. Milk jugs store rain water, etc. Not much help in the plant growing as my ground and large plant pots seem to work better.It seems that other areas of the country allow bring-your-own bags for bulk purchases, etc. But they are not allowed here 'for health reasons', perhaps not enough of us are trying to avoid plastic bags! It seems the best way to avoid plastic is to make/bake/grow as much as you can.
I like the use of cans around growing plants, could it have saved my lettuce from last nights feast? My fencing efforts are not good enough.Since the plastic food -yogurt quarts, peanut butter jars are already paid for I wash and reuse them. I make some of my own yogurt, but my kids don't like mine, so I buy it and use some as starter for myself.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Your story about the reactions of others reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend years ago.  I told her I tried to use everything twice and used plastic bags as an example.  A short time later she asked me how I can tell if I've used a certain bag twice, and I told her that really what it worked out to for me was evaluating each thing I was considering throwing away, and asking myself if there was further use in it.  She said "Oh, I get it" and I think she became a confirmed re user of everything that had further use in it.

IMO, the value of an exercise such as trying to go a month without plastic is in the consciousness raising more than actually attaining 100% non use of  any petroleum derived anything, or anything that was produced through utilization of some petroleum product.  To me the important thing is to pause and consider how wide reaching are the consequences of every choice we make, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

Another exercise to gain some insight is to go through a week or a month's worth of "trash" that you are going to throw away, and see what is it composed of.  When I had young children, there was also not trash service of any kind, but there was recycling.  I did not have a truck to haul trash, and I did not have a partner of any kind to lend a hand... so I had to continually consider how much trash I was going to have to figure out how to dispose of.  Each time I bought anything, there was the question of packaging.

When something was free, how soon would it become trash.  If we brought left overs home from a restaurant, what was I going to do with the carton?  And so on.

In my neighborhood now, the local trash companies encourage wastefulness by charging only 2 dollars more per month to set out unlimited amounts of trash each week, than if you were limited to 2 trash cans, and there is no special rate for a person who wants to put out one bag a month.  Currently I have no trash pick up.  I used to pay for it, and would put out the occasional bag of trash on the appropriate day, only to have the garbage truck drive past leaving my bag undisturbed.  When this happened several times, and I called their dispatcher to report it, they just acted like I was a pain in the neck, and that it was my fault they left my single bag after 6 weeks of nothing, because their driver's habit was to drive past my driveway.  And when I said that it was a pretty easy way for the guy to earn the company's fee, to just look at my driveway every week, then the receptionist was snippy, and then I got an additional charge on my bill, so I cancelled the service.  I want to see just how hard it would be to haul it to the dump myself.  I will probably relent eventually, but for now, I am gathering my trash in the garage, and have been for about 5 months.  Sometimes I think I'll subscribe to the trash service for one month, and put out a year's collection of trash, then cancel.  But that's probably too inconvenient for me.  Another option would be to sneak my trash in to one of the unlimited neighbors piles, but to do that I would have to buy trash bags to disguise my pirate trash, because I too use wood pellet bags, dog food bags, chicken feed bags, I have trouble finding uses for all the things that come home in bags.  I could do it with the neighbor's  permission, but the conveniently located neighbor who would have said "of course!"  and laughed, has moved away.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:IMO, the value of an exercise such as trying to go a month without plastic is in the consciousness raising more than actually attaining 100% non use of  any petroleum derived anything, or anything that was produced through utilization of some petroleum product.  To me the important thing is to pause and consider how wide reaching are the consequences of every choice we make, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.


Oh exactly, I completely and totally agree with this. We actually went to the store without any considerations before I saw this project, and so I've been throwing away heaps of plastic that I just never even really noticed we were going through before - it's not a diet so much as it is an exercise in observation for me.

On another note, I got in my Green Fills detergent today - it seems really nice. They just send you the paper pouches of detergent every month, and you add them to the bottles with warm water and shake. I'm not crazy about the plastic bottles thing though, I almost feel like these could have been mason jars or something in stead, but maybe that would create issues with postage.

It's a nice ready to use formula though, and has ingredients I feel good about. I'm going to see how economical it is and how well it works over the next month, but anything is better than throwing away one of those plastic jug monstrosities every month.
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Rick English
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I bought and use one of these:
Sun's Tea (TM) 18oz Ultra Clear Double-Wall Glass Travel Mug with Flip-on Drinkhole Lid (made of real borosilicate glass)

I like it. I can't say it insulates nearly as well as a thermos, but I don't like my water too cold. I guess I drink too much tea.

For coffee and tea drinkers, check out Paul's idea:
the last coffee maker - the most eco coffee maker

 
Destiny Hagest
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So I had another instance where plastic products seemed to be what I had to buy - a friend of mine is getting married, and registered for a KitchenAid rolling pin at Target. It's a lovely rolling pin, I'm sure, but then I remembered Pantry Paratus sells a stainless steel rolling pin, so I ordered her that instead.

I gotta say, I kinda wish I'd ordered one for myself, this thing looks pretty cool. You can check out more stuff from Pantry Paratus here, and of course, Permies gets a little kickback if you decide to buy anything, so that's nice too
 
Rick English
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Wow - that rolling pin is awesome! I think it could also be used as a self-defense weapon too
 
Destiny Hagest
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haha I bet it could! I'm kind of excited to check it out before I wrap it (which I'll be doing with fabric and ribbon of course to avoid using tape).

They're such a nice little company though - I ordered this a little late, so they sent it 2 day priority at no extra cost so I would get it in time for the wedding, just super nice people over at Pantry Paratus!
 
Linda Secker
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we are not very good at this - hubby just rolls his eyes every time I mention it - BUT we do re-use as much as possible, recycle as much of the rest as possible, and leave a good deal less waste for the rubbish pick-up than anyone else we know.

SO all plastic bags are re-used until they fall apart. We have big re-usable bags for the main shop. We buy the biggest package of anything we can find easily. small plastic bags and envelopes get used several times for collecting salads and herbs from the allotment and storing them in the fridge.

I am on a mission to buy as little of anything as possible so that I can retire sooner, so shampoo bottles etc are reduced.

One thing that was mentioned above - laundry liquids - we stopped using any laundry liquid a couple of years ago when my eczema took a turn for the worse. I was given a set of 'eco-balls' and (very surprisingly) they WORK!! haven't bought laundry stuff since and everything comes out smelling clean, even hubbies sweaty t shirts. Our whites look a bit grey.... but hey. No itching and no plastic bottles to throw away

 
Erica Daly
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I never liked the bottled laundry detergent, but have been gifted some. It seems like you pay for the weight and shipping more than the soap. I found that since I hand wash and use powdered detergent that sometimes a bit of detergent in warm water in a container and shake it up makes the detergent dissolve since I don't use hot water to wash. I read somewhere long ago that detergent packages recommend twice the needed amount to boost the bottom line. I also think shampoo bottles have 'lather, rinse, repeat', for the times when people washed much less often.So I have reduced my laundry soap to about a spoonful (depends on what's getting washed), and dishsoap goes on a damp cloth, and when I need to add a drop or two more. When my supply runs out, I will have to use a dry soap or another alternative. Many times it is just water.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I saw this video and thought it was a cool way to reuse those little plastic spouts on the cardboard juice/milk containers you get at the store, definitely going to have to try this if I wind up with a container like this soon!

 
Destiny Hagest
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found a cheaper alternative to toilet paper without plastic wrapping here.

Apparently Amazon has been packing the other brand with plastic fillers in additional boxes, and the quality of that product has gone down while the price has gone up :/

Think I'm going to give this smaller company a try instead.
 
Jotham Bessey
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" I need to look into buying loose leaf tea and a tea strainer of some kind "

I have a stainless steel tea ball. A little ball full of holes that you put your loose tea inside the put it in your cup just like a tea bag.

I also have a marble rolling pin with wood handles. it's heavy and hard! wouldn't want to be hit with it.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Jotham.  You could also use a strainer that sits on your cup and strains the leaves as you pour the brewed tea in.  Or use your teeth as a strainer and leave the leaves in the bottom of the cup.  (neeed a smiley face with a big tea leaf on the teeth here)

I see you are in Canada.  I'm not too familiar with Canadian companies and tea suppliers.  There is a whole sale loose leaf tea place in Ontario called "Metropolitan  Tea Company".  Don't know if they have a retail division.

A place in Durango, Colorado (USA) called "My gourmet cafe" they sell loose leaf tea by the pound, and after a minimum, the shipping is free, or used to be, I haven't bought from them for years.

You can buy some loose leaf teas by the pound (suppliers Frontier and Star West) through https://www.amazon.com/ (if you use the link, I think Permies gets a tiny bit of income).

There is Mountain Rose Herbs out of Oregon (USA).

And there is a tiny shop in Grand Junction, Colorado  that sells loose leaf tea (Camellia sinensis, rooibos, mate, and herbal blends and singles and they ship.  They also sell tea balls of various sizes.  You have to call them on the phone, and rather than post their phone number here, anyone interested could PM me, and I'd be happy to send it.

They do have a facebook page (I'm as anti facebook as I am anti walmart and anti trump for that matter) but I have never looked at it.  If you are a facebook participant, and if there is a search thing you could try to find them.   "Willow Creek Herbs" Grand Junction should help you find them.  They are nice people there.

There are plenty of other loose leaf teas, but I having no experience with them I can't say the quality of their products or service. These are the places I count on.  They are much less expensive and better quality and more knowledgable than "tea-vana" or what ever that big name tea retailer is in most big cities.

Good luck.

 
Julia Winter
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My favorite loose, by the pound tea is "Evening in Missoula" from the Montana Tea Company.  You can see their catalog here: http://montanatea.com/RETAIL_CATALOG16.pdf

They sell multiple tea making implements - check out the pictures in the pdf.

Anyway, Evening in Missoula is an amazing tea with a complex flavor.  It is delicious without any added sweetener.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Never had "evenings in Missoula" but it is so good that people hundreds of miles away (Grand Junction, Colorado) have heard of it, heard people rave about it.
 
Destiny Hagest
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So how did everyone do with this? It was more of an observing experience for me - I'm appalled at the amount of plastic we go through in this house.

It seems the majority of it comes from dairy products - milk (which I can no longer find raw in big jars), and cheeses. I suppose that's all the more incentive to go paleo, though I did consider bringing my own containers to a local wine and cheese shop in town to get things like goat cheese (stuff I can't get at a deli counter).

I did wind up taking my own containers to the butcher shop, and got some funny looks. I also got some sliced cheese from a local deli, and after filling my glass container with cheese, the guy promptly put my sticker on a plastic bag for me. So yay.

But it's all a learning experience, for sure! I'll be switching my dog food out this weekend for something in a paper bag, and I just recently got this stainless steel popsicle mold set for my son. He's teething and it's been in the 90s here all week, so I'm excited to try them out!

Anyone else find any good things to swap out for your typical plastic products?
 
Jotham Bessey
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Hi Jotham.  You could also use a strainer that sits on your cup and strains the leaves as you pour the brewed tea in.  Or use your teeth as a strainer and leave the leaves in the bottom of the cup.  (neeed a smiley face with a big tea leaf on the teeth here)


The first line was a copy (ctrl+C) from an earlier post. hence the quotations.
I was saying that there is a thing called a "Tea Ball" for that and I have a stainless steel one.
 
Deb Rebel
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Store and reuseable containers for bulk....

I sew produce bags from old sheer curtains, use yarn scraps for drawstrings. I also have a collection of glass jars. I live in a small town and talked nice, and the grocery store weighed all my bags and my jars and we have a tare weight for each permanently marked on each one. They can key-tare the amount of weight off the scale, so I pay only for the product (food) that I've put in the jar or bag.

We have a few living off the land a lot more frugally than I, and they come into town rarely, but I met them at the store the other day and they seen me doing the reusables, including my assortment of recycled jeans and canvas totes; and were extended the same courtesy about getting some of their stuff weighed for reuseables. Maybe a few more will follow the example...

It depends on the store, and sometimes who you know. The sheer curtain bags are rummage sale, thrift store, or dumpster dive fodder that I sew into the bags, and they last for quite a while. I like also that I stitched up different size ones. Only one I will take a plastic bag for are nopales (paddle cactus leaves) or tuna (paddle cactus fruits) as those little fine stickers are HORRID.

The rice, beans, and nuts I can bag in sheer produce bags to get them home in the totes; more powdery I bring the glass jar (already tare-weighed) I use on counter or pantry and fill it up when needed. I am using 5 gallon pails with gamma lids and will slowly as I can afford it replace them with glass carboys or gallon jars. Some of the totes I custom sewed to be able to carry the jars easier, and put some padding as well. It is so nice to be organized that way....
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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My mom was just saying how she'd given up on cloth diapers when I was a baby, it was too much work for her, and then I find this thread. 

I wonder about ways of making washing cloth diapers easier.  Or a reusable plastic one that you can wash.  Or maybe silicon, like those cooking implements.

Or if you put all your cloth diapers in a soak tub and then can do them at once.  Use the poop too.  Just brainstorming here.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:My mom was just saying how she'd given up on cloth diapers when I was a baby, it was too much work for her, and then I find this thread. 

I wonder about ways of making washing cloth diapers easier.  Or a reusable plastic one that you can wash.  Or maybe silicon, like those cooking implements.

Or if you put all your cloth diapers in a soak tub and then can do them at once.  Use the poop too.  Just brainstorming here.


We actually cloth diaper here - we have an 18 month old son. It's really not too bad, they've come a long way in terms of ease of use. I use biodegradable detergent that comes in a cardboard box, and line dry. I have a manual washer outside too, but just haven't had time to use it.

You can use wool covers and cotton/hemp/bamboo prefolds if you prefer, but they can be a bit more cumbersome with care, and of course, wool gets really expensive. I generally use the PUL lined ones, just easier for me in terms of fabric care.

The rinse water from that wash is considered blackwater, so it's not generally something I'd consider reusing - I don't really know enough about it to do so safely I'm afraid.

The way we (and most of my mommy friends) do it is we have a diaper pail with a cloth liner called a 'wet bag', and we put used diapers in there. Then when it's full, we wash. I wash a load about every other day, sometimes every 3rd day. We rinse poopie diapers off in the toilet (we have a sprayer attachment we installed) and then add to the wash with the others.

The wash cycles you have to be pretty particular about, so you don't have bacteria buildup (which can cause nasty ammonia burns on baby if not kept in check), but if you get science-y with your laundry, it's not too bad We love them, and our son has never had a rash either
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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