Yes, yes, it's something to do year 'round. But making a special event of it helps us avoid problem fatigue (where we get so overwhelmed by what a big problem it all is that we don't know what to do about it and go watch reruns of Futurama instead of taking action). A month is about the right amount of time. They say it takes 21 days to break an addiction. A month to learn new habits that I can use throughout the year.
July is also an exceptional month to go plastic-free this year because as of July first, 2018, my city has banned single-use plastic bags at checkout as the first step to reduce and remove all single-use plastic.
My goal for this thread is to document my attempt to reduce plastic in my life, the successes, the failures, and all the in-between. The only thing standing between us and victory is defeat.
My goals this year:
observe my plastic addiction - discover where I use plastic in my life and ask myself why I choose that?
Focus on single-use plastic, especially shopping. Is it possible to shop for the things I love without single-use plastic?
discover and support companies that are proactive in reducing plastic in our lives
Find new ways to upcycle or repurpose any plastic that I cannot avoid.
Congratulations! How far have you come along? I've been widling mine down and maybe we can motivate each other? Most of my single use, non-recyclable plastics are in the form of frozen vegetable bags and meat wrappers, chip bags, and other food packaging. We average one bag of recycling and one bag of garbage a week with a family of 4 + dog. I have not found an adequate overnight cloth diaper, so we get one heavily used as ecofriendly as possible disposable a night. Those, I think are my biggest issues.
It's so difficult eh? Good on you for making moves to reduce your plastic use.
The main, (and a few minor), things we do are:-
Reuseable shopping bags
Make our own bread
Buy milk from a farm in glass jars
Grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible
Use a refillable fountain pen instead of disposable pens
When my disposable razor runs our I'll look at replacing it with one that takes exchangeable blades
Don't drink bought fruit juice
We bought a soda stream to make sparkling water at home...to which we can add home made fruit syrups
Home cooked meals
Take a travel cup for takeaway coffee Metal drink bottle of water for outings.
I have a basket in the car into which I always have some of the above so that I don't have to think about them every time I go out
My wife has been adamant about this for some years, and getting more militant She is seriously unhappy about the vegetarian food products available, all of which come in single-use, often non-recyclable packaging.
She has been experimenting and has come up with a very tasty rice/couscous/veggie patty recipe, which unfortunately is a bit time-consuming. We are going to experiment with freezing so we can make big batches and use over time.
We have a major difficulty in that we host an annual festival (NY Faerie Festival) and even though everyone involved says they love the land, there is massive throwaway products and packaging use. We tried to offer "boxed water" for those who feel they must buy water even though we have a wonderful tasty spring of free water available, and nobody would buy it - perhaps it looked too different from the plastic bottles they are used to. As well, it turned out that the cardboard boxes were plastic-lined and not recyclable or compostable. We have required the food vendors to use recyclable or compostable serving ware, with mixed success. We are improving our onsite composting facilities each year.
I have for years produced about three times as much recyclables as trash, one regular shopping bag of trash every couple of weeks or so, and everything compostable goes to the garden. The total volume is increasing as my wife and grandkids are spending more time here.
[CHEERING] Yay... go r ranson! I was pretty motivated to get rid of plastics after taking my PDC, but what really kicked me into high gear was watching the movie A Plastic Ocean. Now ridding them from my life has become a passion.
There are some outstanding instructional how-to's on this thread. I've got a few others to add:
When I do have to buy produce or bulk food items, I bring my own produce bags to put them in. When I forget my own produce bags, I use the paper bags found in the mushroom / bulk coffee section. Since these bags are not the easiest for the teller to peer into to see what they contain, I write the name on the outside of the paper bag with the pen from the bulk section. The teller has never had an issue with this. I'm always looking for carbon material to add to my nitrogen-heavy compost & worm bins. After I've put the produce away in the kitchen, I run the paper bags through a paper shredder & they then go into my various at-home composting operations.
The bulk section of our local food cooperative has a place where folks can bring in their used, cleaned & sterilized glass jars. Re-use is simple. We weight the empty glass jar & write the "dry weight" on it. Then, we fill the container with the bulk item: olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, etc. & write what it contains on the jar. After use, we clean & sterilize the glass jars & bring them back to the co-op for others to use!
On the shaving front, I've been straight razor shaving for 5 years now. I found a used straight razor that was in good shape from a local antique shop for $20. Bought a sharpening stone & strop to get the blade "shave ready" & watched a heck of a lot of YouTube how-to sharpen & shave with a straight razor videos before the blade ever touched my skin. After a couple of months of practice, I was shaving as quickly & efficiently as I had been with any of the disposable razors / blade cartridges. Did I cut myself learning? Yes. I also cut myself with the so-called "safe" cartridges while learning as a teenager. It's just simply matter of practice. There are a handful of techniques to get used to with a straight razor, all explicated ad infinitum on YouTube & other websites. I haven't cut myself with my straight razor since I started 5 years ago by learning the most important lesson: always move the blade vertically. Never slice horizontally; you'll be sure to cut yourself then. I can now straight razor shave pre-caffiene, half-asleep with my eyes half closed with no issues! Another pro-tip: if you straight razor shave just after a hot shower, you do not need to use shaving cream because the hot skin is shave ready! After 5 years of straight razor shaving I have no idea how much disposable plastic I have prevented from going in the landfills - though I would like to know. I also do not know how much money I have saved, but I remember those little cartridges being fairly expensive for something designed to be thrown away in such a short amount of time. So I imagine I have saved a nice little chunk of money by straight razor shaving for the past 5 years. On that note, this documentary highlights Planned Obsolescence very well, as does The Story of Stuff. My partner is interested in learning how to use a straight razor to shave her legs. That's our next step. In the mean time she just simply isn't shaving her legs!
PS- I dedicate this post to all the documentarians who have inspired me & taught me how to move closer towards a zero waste life.
I have recently started my plastic free life. It is so not easy. I never realized how much of my life is plastic. I know I can't get rid of all of it. I can however try a buy the least amount possible. It is a sad fact that unless more manufactures start making items without it there is no way the world will be without it. I am really doing my best to buy glass and stainless steel over time to replace all my plastic. I can't afford to do to much at a time, but things like cooking utensils, plates, bowls etc. are the first to change. I did find a glass bottle with a nice cover on Amazon to use instead of my plastic drinking bottle when I am on the go. I didn't want just to use stainless steel ones all the time because I like to take my juices with me too, and I have read you shouldn't keep juices in stainless steel for long periods of time. I will try out the glass bottle and let you know if it is a good product. Good luck to all of us with limiting our use of plastic an properly deposing of what we do have.
I had a great experience yesterday. shopping plastic free.
When I go to the deli they serve cheese, salads, yoghurt, and other bulk foods in their own plastic containers. Instead, I took my own containers to the counter and very timidly mentioned how I'm practising for the plastic-free July and wanted to see if it is possible to use my own containers. Even though it was the busiest time of day for them (lunch rush on a Friday), they joyfully filled my containers. It's sold by weight, so they had to weigh the container and press a button on the scale, but it wasn't difficult at all.
A few things happened.
when they weigh the goods normally, they weigh them in the container. The container weighs 20g, so I'm actually saving 5 - cents by bringing my own container. That kind of savings adds up fast
the shop wasn't at all put out by me wanting to do this.
10 other customers were curious about my container and four of them said they were going to start bringing their tiffin or bento to get their lunch in.
That last point especially makes me feel good. Even if only one of them brings their containers to the shop, then someone else will see them... and things will start catching on.
I used my small tiffin which holds just the right amount for a hearty take-out lunch. But today I was buying yoghurt and fetta cheese.
I’ve been working on reducing my consumption of single-use plastic for some years now. There are peaks and troughs -e.g. at the deli you can buy cheese in cheese paper instead of plastic wrap. However, the cheese is much more expensive and I haven’t found an organic one. So, for the moment, we’re back to supermarket cheese and plastic wrap.
On the other hand, I’ve found a company selling coffee beans that uses no plastic at any point in its business. Of course, there are the air miles but one step at a time, eh?
I did end up using a disposable coffee cup this week, as I didn’t expect to need my reusable, so I need to get into the habit of taking the latter as a matter of course. Sadly, my KeepCup is starting to leak but it has lasted me coming up for two years....
These are brilliant for keeping bread fresh and moist, covering bowls, making snack-packs and just about anything one would normally use kitchen wrap for.
What's more, there's a cheese shop in town that gives a 15% discount on your order if you use your own abeego wrap. Tasty!
I love these so much, but they are an investment. So I wondered if I could make my own. 2 hours on youtube and I decided to try the oven method.
We get a cotton or linen cloth and grate beeswax on top.
Stick it in the oven until it melts, then hang to dry.
Given the price of organic local beeswax, I think I spent as much making these as I would have to buy some new abeego wraps. The result was quite stiff and didn't smell as good as abeego and takes more effort to soften and shape around the bowl. If I didn't already know how good abeego wraps were, I wouldn't notice that these homemade ones could be better.
Will make more again? Maybe. But this experiment inspired me to buy some new abeego wraps and with the ones I already have, this should be enough to remove all temptation to use plastic wrap from the house. I am curious, however, to see if these wraps could be used to freeze bread, so I might make a bread bag and wax it just to see if it can withstand the freezer.
HOW are everyone's 'less plastic' attempts going? This was supposed to be the start of positive changes, but seems to have fizzled out.
I'd love to hear some success stories. I feel so frustrated that even after buying less & repurposing more, it's nearly impossible to not drown in single use plastic from some of my food purchases. I'm starting to make ecobricks but don't know what I'll build with them (seems it would need to be something permanent that won't get unbuilt in the future, so my plastic doesn't become someone else's garbage.) Over on the Financial Realities Waste thread, William Bronson wrote "Here is what one guy that has no access to recycling does:TRASH-ROCKS-Eliminate-Unrecyclable-Trash", which looks promising - but in reality, it's not a one person job. (thus, another idea added to the files for consideration of future stewards of this land... sigh...)
My only REAL success in less plastic is at the monthly 'dish to pass' meal I attend. Instead of a food item (there's always TOO much food, anyway) I carry a large picnic basket full of REAL plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and a large vinyl lined totebag with a dishpan and 'food bucket'. Seems like a win-win - I don't need to find time to prep food on a busy workday, the dishes get washed at my convenience the next day, then packed and ready for the next gathering, the food scraps go to my compost pile. And of course, it raised some awareness. So, so far it's working (but we're reaching my limit of a eighteen plates - guess I better check the thrift store...)
HOW ABOUT YOU? Please INSPIRE US with YOUR SOLUTIONS THAT WORKED.
I was like a broken record, preaching the evils of plastic wrappers while living in Cebu Philippines. Much of what they buy are single-use containers and individually packaged portions of everything from coffee mixes to laundry detergent. It's the most plastic addicted and junk food addicted place I've ever experienced.
So I encourage everyone in my circle to buy larger containers of things, and I bought larger containers of many things that were available by the scoop from our stash. Our landlady often came by for a scoop of Milo drink mix or other things, but I don't remember collecting any money. She would often walk across to the junk food store, 10 feet from her gate and buy a little packet of Milo or a little packet of laundry soap. Even bulk items like charcoal are sold in packs so small that you need four of them to cook a fish.
I have figured out how to get rid of all of that plastic in the Pacific vortex. Well not how to get rid of it but to prevent much of it from entering the ocean. The worst offenders are countries like China and India. Both are stripping their hillsides of trees, to produce wood for firing bricks. When burned at high temperature, plastic burns relatively clean and could be used to fire those bricks. I got the local children to gather up all of the plastic at the place where I was living and much of it along the roadsides. This stuff is regularly burned in open piles along with sticks and leaves, to create a very low temperature, dirty fire.
I made some clay charcoal burning rings while I was there, and they greatly reduce the amount of charcoal that people need. Once I'm living there, I intend to clear at least a 5 mile radius around where I buy land, of every bit of plastic waste. I will employ a local children by offering them preferred foods. This works really well in Cebu, where candy bananas on a stick are a favorite. My cost was about $0.03 each. I intend to employ someone making those ceramic fire rings, and plastic will be burned during the firing process.
So, we will clean up the mess and use it to make a product that helps to reduce deforestation. Charcoal production is responsible for much of third-world deforestation. So I've already tested my ability to make the fire rings and to have the plastic fuel gathered quite inexpensively. I expect to spend less than 50 cents each, having the rings made. This is based on how fast I'm able to do it, and the labor rates in the Philippines. They sell a similar ring for about $10. If I'm unable to sell them, I will give away several hundred dollars worth of them, to all of the people surrounding me. Then the whole neighborhood will be less smokey and people will be less likely to chop down trees to produce unneeded charcoal. I don't mind putting $1,000 into making my new home as garbage free as possible, and cleaning up large amounts of wood smoke in the process.
I will create a new thread concerning this effort, a few months after I start living in the Philippines.
buying in bulk and sharing is a great solution!!! (when you can afford it, and when folks are in sharing distance one way or another.) that reminds me of the food containers an elderly friend 'shared' with me (for eventual community use?). I set aside a basket full of the containers, which I bring to a local vo-tech food class's buffet lunch that they set up several days a week, open to the public. I purchase a takeout meal at a great price, but don't use the takeout containers. Instead, I fill my friend's containers, then visit her. We enjoy lunch and conversation and try to solve the world's problems.
plastic will be burned during the firing process
worries me. Isn't "fairly clean" still toxic? Or is it the 'least' of all possible bad choices?
That's the frustration - if we find ways to "deal" with it, we don't STOP using it. And even if we DO stop using it, there is so much ALREADY here. (and there was NONE when I was born, so how can I leave the world 'better'?)
I recycled for a living. Burning is the only solution I've seen that works in poor remote areas. They currently burn it on the ground. Slowly smoldering fires that fill the neighborhood with smoke. And no useful product is made.
I'm done looking for other solutions. But I will check regularly to see what others have come up with.
I really enjoyed doing the plastic-free month challenge. It's a lot of fun to dedicate time to finding ways around plastic use. I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.
On the whole, it's made me more aware of plastic that comes into my life, and more importantly, what I'm going to do with it when I'm finished. I haven't gone 100% off plastic, but I think very carefully before I buy something wrapped in plastic.
It's very hard to reduce plastic if you don't live in a large city. Not living in a city means we don't buy takeout meals, or lunch "on the go" neither do we buy coffee or other takeaway drinks. So there's nothing to be reduced there.
Having read through these threads I cannot see how it is done outside a large city, there is nowhere to buy bulk here, no markets, not much loose veg etc is sold (not a problem in the summer of course) no cheese shops, There is a bakers and it does use paper. And there is no such thing as delivery, we're way too small a country to have specialist deliveries of bulk items. I HAVE ordered bulk flour from the UK which came in a paper bag and a cardboard box, it was even cheaper than buying flour here, but surely importing 21kg of flour 1000miles is not the answer.
In July if we don't buy anything in plastic I think we would be limited to bread, water, vegetables that we grow ourselves, (but not potatoes as the seed potatoes come in plastic bags) salt, flour and sugar. We could not have meat, or fish, or any spice (they come in glass jars but the lids are plastic) we could not brush our teeth or wash, while I have home made soap the oils/fats came in plastic. We couldn't throw anything in the rubbish as the rubbish bag is plastic (and provided by the rubbish company so NO choice there) And I feel using already bought products would be cheating.
I made some attempt to reduce plastic use in the Philippines, whenever I saw things that were needlessly packaged.
It is common to see two apples or two carrots, sitting on a foam tray wrapped in clear plastic. Some vendors display stuff this way. Others just have a big pile of the product, and people put it in their own bag. Whenever these people tried to sell me items, I told them that the reason I'm not buying your product, is because you have wrapped it in plastic and created so much garbage for no reason. Most of them spoke enough English to understand what I meant. But some of them thought that it was because of the inconvenience of having to unwrap it. So I would have to go into further detail, explaining that their actions have added to the giant pile of plastic in their City, so I'm not buying it because I don't want to participate in that.
But really I only converted one household, and they'll lapse when I'm not looking.
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