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Life Without Plastic

 
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life without plastic is all about plastic-free lifestyle.  They sell plastic free goodies (I do all my Christmas shopping here!) for the kitchen, home, kids and more.  But they also have a great education section.  

10 easy tips for living without plastic!

2. Refuse plastic bags and bring your own reusable bags wherever you go – heck, while you're at it, REFUSE all single-use disposable plastics
Plastic bags are often used for minutes only before being discarded. And most plastic bags are not recycled, thus ending up in landfills – where they take hundreds of years to break down – or in the environment as toxic pollution.

There are now all kinds of reusable bags out there. Choose what works for you, and carry it with you in your pocket, coat, purse or car. We offer various ones here, including bags for produce.



show off your cloth shopping bags here

repairing reusable bags to make them last even longer

4. Use non-plastic containers for food – lunches, leftovers, freezing, storage, take-out, travelling...
There are now a variety of options to help you avoid using plastic for storing food...and avoiding polluting and leaching disposable take-out containers:

stainless steel and glass containers – airtight and non-airtight – with stainless steel lids

layered tiffins – for carrying various items at once in separate layers (e.g., nuts, fruit, chips, hummus, rize, curry...whatever)

insulated stainless steel thermal containers – for hot meals on the go

compartmentalized bento boxes made of stainless steel and wood – designed for sushi, fabulous for any lunch

again, don't underestimate the easy utility of the ubiquitous mason jar




learn about different kinds of bento box and their effects on our health

10. Have fun living with less plastic – don't let the enormity of the plastic problem get you down!
Sure, plastic waste is a huge problem, and it is a real drag that chemicals are coming out of plastics and being eaten and absorbed by people and wildlife all over the world, but remember, waves of change are in motion all around you, and you are part of a community of people who are commited to using less plastic.

So have fun with your plastic-free journey – be innovative and creative in looking for new ways to express your life without plastic.





Learn more about it at life without plastic

some of the links in this thread are affiliate links
 
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When a store clerk tries to give me a plastic bag I always say "No thanks. Save a plastic tree." Sometimes followed by "plastic is evil".

 
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First look, the store only had 2 items per category. I was thinking...not good. For the benefit of others using a smartphone, swipe left to scroll through the products. Took me a while to figure it out. Duh!

Edit..it scrolls down also. Very confusing. Gonna try on a pc later, see if it navigates easier
 
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This documentary is great: From The Waste Up

And this site is v useful too My Plastic Free Life
 
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For those of us who don"t feel able to spend $20.00 for a stainless steel lid, I suggest shopping at restaurant supply store instead.
Stainless steel for days, lots cheaper.
 
r ranson
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I see what you mean about the mobile view.  The regular one is much easier to navigate.

I like that their website includes lots of inspiration for avoiding plastic.  The things I have bought from them last so much longer than their plastic counterparts.  Prices are in Canadian too, so I don't have to think about the exchange rate.
 
wayne fajkus
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Theres stuff ive never seen before.  Pretty cool. Stainless mason jar caps being one example. They shouldn't rust like regular caps. Not sure if you can "can" with them, but for dry storage it should last forever.
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:When a store clerk tries to give me a plastic bag I always say "No thanks. Save a plastic tree." Sometimes followed by "plastic is evil".



I tell them "lets save a fish"
 
Mike Barkley
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Excellent reply ... save a fish. Sad but true. Was reading about the microbeads in the water via the links provided in the initial post. Scary stuff. I knew about microlized cellulose (ground up sawdust in some peanut butter, etc) but never heard of microbead plastic. Makes me want to learn to like tilapia or find another easy to raise fish.
 
wayne fajkus
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I was in austin, tx about 2 years ago. Just wasting time while my wife was at an appt. I went to a sporting goods store. I bought a machete and half a dozen throwing knives. As i checked out i was informed about the "bring your own bag" policy in the city.

It was a wierd, nervouse walk to my truck, openly carrying a machete and 6 knives. Lol. I was expecting someone to call the cops. I was parked way in the back.
 
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Did you buy abeego wraps?  They look good.

I tried making mine, but the wax was too hard and wax flaked off.  But friend says abeego isn't like that.
 
r ranson
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I love my abeego wraps.  I bought some long ago when they were just getting started.  They were firm enough that they took the shape of the food, but soft enough that I could mould them into shape with my hand.  It keeps the food fresher than plastic wrap.

I too have made my own food wraps out of beeswax and other attempts at discovering the perfect combination of oils and wax but it takes a surprising amount of wax for a mediocre result.  My conclusion is that I'll spend the money and buy some more abeego.  They are just so much better than any other wax wrap I've tried or attempted to make.  
 
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How well do the abeego wraps work in the freezer? Being able to mold it around food sounds promising for avoiding freezer burn.
 
Casie Becker
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That safety razor has just made it onto my wish list. Plastic razors are the one thing I've not seen good replacements for until now.  

There's some really great stuff there. I understand why you do your Christmas shopping here ranson. I've been slowly building a modern version of a hope chest for my nieces.  Spending the money now to get them good quality items for when they have their own homes.  Metal and glass items always seem to hold up better than plastics,  so this might become a first stop for me also.
 
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I love your single use plastic refusal replies Brian Campbell! When I was 14 years old deep behind what I call ‘Life Behind the Orange Curtain” (growing up in Orange County, California) I did a monologue play where there was a line that said, “God gave us plastic so we’d know what the everlastin’ really was.... see if there’s plastic there’s surely eternity.”  I love that line, it really puts the obtuse  single use mindset into perspective, something that most people seem to struggle to do.   So I love that line, but  I love being able to move beyond the everlasting (world of plastic) even more!  
 
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I try to avoid plastic when I can but wanted to ask any experts out there about the lifecycle cost of using single-use plastic versus stainless or glass containers. I believe it takes a large amount of energy to extract materials and create reusable containers. Add to that the water usage and heat energy to clean these reusable containers. If we're careful about recycling I think we can use plastic wisely. I will continue to walk and bicycle when I can to offset petroleum use.
Thanks for any comments on this topic!
 
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Eliminating one bag may not seem like much, but there are 35,000,000 Canadians, and if we each eliminate one bag per week... that’s 1,820,000,000 bags. Often we see our actions as insignificant because we are only one drop in a bucket, but you fill a bucket one drop, one bag, at a time.
 
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Chuck Zinda wrote:I try to avoid plastic when I can but wanted to ask any experts out there about the lifecycle cost of using single-use plastic versus stainless or glass containers. I believe it takes a large amount of energy to extract materials and create reusable containers. Add to that the water usage and heat energy to clean these reusable containers. If we're careful about recycling I think we can use plastic wisely. I will continue to walk and bicycle when I can to offset petroleum use.
Thanks for any comments on this topic!



I can't comment on plastic vs stainless but I do remember that single use plastic bags are energy wise much better than the thicker multi use plastic bags. You have to use a thick woven plastic bag over 50 times before it equals out. even paper bags are worse than plastic energy wise. And of course those two points only count if the single use bag is used 1 time only, if it is used twice and then turned into a bin bag, well you better use your thick one 150 times to cancel that out. If you use a cotton bag instead then you need to use it nearly 400 times to even out with using 400 disposable bags.

I use woven jute bags each bag used to last 300 trips (that was 3 years worth of shopping and bottle return) now that we only go shopping once a month they are not even showing any wear 2 years in. But I can see reading around that from a CO2 standpoint I am hurting the environment by using these bags as I am not getting the 400 uses out of them to offset their manufacturing cost. I will continue to use them as they are not adding plastic to the oceans, and they don't break when you fill them up with bottles!

The best solution I can think of sitting here at the keyboard is to turn old clothes and sheets etc into bags. then you have no inbuilt cost other than the thread and a tiny share of the sewing-machines cost.

I think that we are going about it the wrong way, we should be improving plastic recovery and recycling rather than using alternatives that have a higher impact in land use, water and CO2 emissions in real world usage.
 
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Hi Skandi,

You raise some valid points. While I do attempt to avoid plastic, I am not anti plastic.  I am anti only a few things.  I am anti the pointless overuse of plastic.  The pad I am using is made of plastic .... seriously doubt is a non plastic pad exists.  On the flip side, sometimes the battle is more about trends than items.  If we can reduce the demand for plastic bags, we are looking at significantly reducing plastic in landfills and oceans.  So, while I dont hang my head in shame each time I touch plastic, I do look for ways to reduce using plastic items.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:
I can't comment on plastic vs stainless but I do remember that single use plastic bags are energy wise much better than the thicker multi use plastic bags. You have to use a thick woven plastic bag over 50 times before it equals out. even paper bags are worse than plastic energy wise. And of course those two points only count if the single use bag is used 1 time only, if it is used twice and then turned into a bin bag, well you better use your thick one 150 times to cancel that out. If you use a cotton bag instead then you need to use it nearly 400 times to even out with using 400 disposable bags.



I live in an urban area. I see single use plastics flying around in the wind, hanging high up in trees, in bird nests, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Many of them eventually find their way into storm sewers and out into freshwater streams, rivers, and eventually the sea. They are also deposited on shorelines all down those same pathways. In many cases around the world, they end up in combined storm and sewer lines and clog intake screens at treatment plants. They are cleaned to remove plastics (bottles included) regularly and this is at considerable person hours and energy cost. Thus, even energy wise it isn't so simple. Paper bags break down and many of those issues are removed from the equation. I do agree however that reusing everything possible is the way to go. I use the plastic bags my folks generate until they can't hold much. I also use them for bagging plants and seeds I'm giving away. Decades ago, I bought a fair number of cotton bags. There was a large initial cost and initial energy input to get them into my hands. Again, I purchased most of mine but have thrifted and been given several as well. The initial order I've had about 30+ years. I've used them for groceries, building materials, temp storage, books, etc. They're in use daily. While I can tell which ones are the earliest (they're thinner now), they have kept countless thousands of bags out of our house/landfill. They also have never fallen apart while carrying heavy items. In the end, if they ever fail to be mended and used as bags, they will certainly lend some usable fabric. I do not believe the less than robust stats used for how many times a bag has to be reused in order to break even with plastics as the metrics don't take a lot into account. It's far more difficult to calculate over time, use variability, lifespan, even weight of the materials being used to make the bags. Given that, and my own experience, it's hard for me to see how cloth bags aren't first, then paper a far distant 2nd.

Disclaimer - I'm no saint. I'm still a plastic user. I thrift topless bins for the garden for a buck (or less at garage sales), car, etc and use them until they shatter or become otherwise unusable for anything else. I have fleece clothing...most of which I've had for 10-20 years...one early heavily used pullover is from 1981! I have a car. There are bits and bobs everywhere but I'm not cavalier about it. I avoid it when I can, reuse all I'm able to, and recycle when I can no longer find a use. I routinely salvage/scrounge plastic items from which I think I can squeeze some extra life.



 
echo minarosa
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I have some rather clumsy family members. Years ago we started to thrift/yard sale/etc those large stainless steel cups like they make milkshakes in. Over time, the machines break and get discarded and there are  surprising numbers of the steel cups floating around out there. I'd bet some are from the 40s-50s. They don't break like glass, no cleanup of broken glass, and especially no surprise pieces of glass found in unfortunate ways down the road. We've been using some for 25 years or more. We then branched out into small stainless mixing bowls for most meals, and bought a few stainless plates from an Indian grocery. Breakage and replacements have dropped to near zero. I'm a big fan of stainless and the lifespan of the items is LONG. We keep some non stainless bowls, plates, etc for the microwave.
 
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It would seem the best type of re-usable bag is one you made from salvaged waste materials. Some of my re-usable bags: sewn from someone else's chicken feed bags, crochet bag made form single use plastic bags I fished out of the grocery store "recycle" bin, and a denim bag made from the cut off legs of pants with warn through knees. With the denim the top half of the pants became shorts while the bottom half became a bag. Most recently I'm crocheting a tote bag from the tape of discarded VHS tapes. I am yet to buy a reusable bag new at a store.

I do try to avoid plastic in general because so few of them are effectively recycled. Metal in itself is indefinitely recyclable whereas most plastics can only be recycled a few times before it becomes too degraded to functionally use. To only look at the "carbon footprint" of an item is not considering the whole impact...for sure it leaves out the "end outcome" of the item which is the biggest problem we are experiencing with plastic at this point.

I'd like to finish (what has become a rant sorry) by pointing out that the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle" is said in that order for a reason, I think a lot of people forget that not only do these words not have the same meaning, but that the effects of each is also not the same! We must first use less, then try to re-use what we can, and finally recycle what we no longer can reuse. I know probably everyone here already is on board with this, but I couldn't stop myself from saying it anyway.
 
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I am a big fan of making retail outlets responsible for garbage that leaves their establishment. Packaging is a massive issue and is in almost all cases wholly unnecessary. Consumeable products are consumed. Packaging is garbage. We live on our sailboat and are made to feel guilty for bringing our garbage ashore. I have no problem taking it to the dumpster behind the grocery store where we spent $600 on provisions. Almost all of it came from them in the form of unnecessary marketing packaging.
 
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Things like old pillow cases, tshirts, camisoles, little girls' nighties, tank shirts, and even pant legs make great shopping bags, with minimal or no sewing, and have usually outlived their first purpose, already. Other items, like woven shirts, other bedding, tea towels, and other things may take a bit more sewing, but the new use reality is still the same. The comparisons of plastic vs paper vs cloth don't ever seem to take into account items that 'had one foot in the landfill, and the other on a banana peel', being turned into something with hundreds, or thousands more times to be used. They also don't take into account cloth bags that, after taking damage, could be mended, and put back into use, yet again. If you make your bags from the 'dead cloth' pile, use them until they sustain damage, then mend them and get them back into the workforce, you've effectively circumvented the whole commercial bag making system. I truly don't understand why more people don't do it. What difference does it make, if your grocery and utility bags aren't 'pretty' or 'cute', anymore? Wear those patches & stains with pride, or turn the patches and stains into an art form.
 
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I have started putting my groceries directly back in my cart. Using my own bags is not allowed because of covid restrictions. I just load them into bags or boxes when I get to my car.

This seems silly to me, because I'm touching everything anyways. In my mind this doesn't seem like this will have any effect on covid transmission rates. Perhaps the grocery stores want to look like they are being proactive. Perhaps the plastic companies saw an opportunity to produce more bags. This is just a minor inconvenience, so I dont mind too much. I just imagine other people are takin the easy way out and using the bags.
 
Carla Burke
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I also know that it's not something that everyone can necessarily do, but another way I work toward getting rid of plastic(which I still feel buried under), is in making my own hygiene products. I make my own shampoo/body bars, facial cleanser bars, tooth'paste', deoderant, lotion bars, lip balm, body butters, bath additives, etc., as well as laundry stain sticks, window cleaner, general purpose household cleaner, and such. In doing that, I've relieved not only my personal plastic use, but I've been able to rid myself of all the things in the commercial versions, that I'm so horribly allergic to.
 
Jackie Frobese
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Carla Burke wrote:  I make my own shampoo/body bars, facial cleanser bars, tooth'paste', deoderant, lotion bars, lip balm, body butters, bath additives, etc., as well as laundry stain sticks, window cleaner, general purpose household cleaner, and such.



You maybe even end up getting containers that would have ended up in the landfill from others to put said products into...

On a similar line I have given up certain hygiene products entirely. I've learned that although some hygiene products are definitely necessary for some people, most are just gimmicky products that are another way for companies to get our money. This is especially true for toothpaste (brush with just water), chap-stick (usually unnecessary if you are well hydrated, and not addicted to the petroleum on your lips), nearly all make-up, and most cleaning products (you'd be surprised how much comes clean with just water and a rag of cut up old sheets or towels).

I am frustrated by the fact that my local grocery seems to feel the need to wrap the organic produce in plastic, but not the toxic stuff! It really doesn't make sense to me. They must get complaints, because the packaging cycles and at times there is no plastic, but then it goes back again.

Has anyone found a way around plastic trash bags? I tried composable ones, but they seemed to fall apart just trying to open them.
 
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While not about living without plastic this seems pertinent to the discussion of trying to reduce plastic waste.  The best option is not to produce the waste, but another approach is to make that "waste" into a valuable resource.  Some of you here might be interested the the work of the preciousplastic.com website and community.  They are about developing open source machines that regular people can build to recycle and/or manufacture things from plastic.  As an artist/sculptor I've seriously looked at what they were doing several years ago, but ultimately decided not to pursue it myself because the look of plastic just goes against my personal aesthetics.
 
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We're about to streamline our kitchen storage solutions. We have years of accumulated plastic storage containers of every size and shape that has ever been made. We've tried before, but it seemed wasteful to trash "perfectly good" and "useful" containers. But, they're NOT "perfectly" good, there's all sorts of flaws... competing brands that can't share lids, or nest together, or stack in the fridge when full without playing "Jenga" with your food. Lost lids/cups make the other half useless.

Our plan, in progress, moving towards glass:
A.) A fleet of Pyrex bowls with plastic lids. Stackable both empty (nesting, slightly) and full. Generally enough lids/bowls available at any one time to account for dirty/clean/lost. Work in freezer, microwave, oven, & dishwasher.
B.) A fleet of Mason jars, in various sizes/shapes, using both plastic and metal lids/rings. Useful for freezing, canning, dry, & liquid uses. Lids are universal and replaceable.
C.) Pare down the plastic to just a few shapes/sizes to keep the lids/cups variable constrained.

The key for us is that it is easy to store/manage a LOT of the SAME SIZE thing, than it is a variety of things all with their own lids.
Another example is mason jars on a lazy-susan in a cabinet, the shelf heights can be set "just so" and nothing gets lost behind and forgotten.

One thing that we have become aware of since the pandemic and the return of single-use bags to our lives, is that we have a serious cloth bag habit! The bags that have floated around between cars, kitchen, hooks by the door, closets... "here's one", they finally got rounded up in the same place, same time. It's comical... two dozen? three? I'm not even sure I've got them all.

 
Kenneth Elwell
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Jackie Frobese wrote: I am frustrated by the fact that my local grocery seems to feel the need to wrap the organic produce in plastic, but not the toxic stuff! It really doesn't make sense to me. They must get complaints, because the packaging cycles and at times there is no plastic, but then it goes back again.

Has anyone found a way around plastic trash bags? I tried composable ones, but they seemed to fall apart just trying to open them.



I get angry about this as well. From the store's point-of-view, they need to differentiate the "organic" from "conventional", mostly for (higher) pricing/cost, but also so that the customer actually gets an organic apple if they choose one. So, the lesser volume of organic produce to wrap = less volume of plastic wrapping to do the job over all?
This is also a problem in the hardware store, where "high-value" things like power tool batteries, are encased in impenetrable and bulky packaging to reduce casual theft, and to confer a sense of value/importance. This extends to lesser value products too, where the packaging inflates the perception of value or quality. (all while just creating more trash).

For plastic trash bags, in our bathroom, we have a small can with a lid that is designed to use the plastic grocery bags as a liner. Even with our fleet of cloth bags, we seem to end up with more than enough to handle a weekly use of a bag here. We use "tall kitchen" bags to save from washing the barrel in the kitchen, which is mostly for food packaging (often wet, and slimy) that isn't recyclable in our town, maybe one or two a week.
It's been a while since we've tried compostable bags, we tried BioBags years ago for our compostables, but they tore too often, and really required taking the bin along to the garden to prevent that... so just easier to wash the bin.
I think the bag solves the "you don't want to touch this thing again" problem. It could be used tissues, cotton swabs, or the bag the chicken came in; you don't touch the stuff again, you touch the bag, and it is contained. No spills transferring to the bin, or the car, or the garbage truck, etc...

There's ways around buying (so many) trash bags: reducing your waste, being careful when not using bags (hoping the garbage man is too), or re-using "single-use" bags a second time as a garbage bag (grocery bags, feed bags, boxes). Come to think of it, as a kid, before plastic grocery bags Mom's kitchen can was lined with paper grocery bags, those went out into a metal can in the garage when full.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:  

I am frustrated by the fact that my local grocery seems to feel the need to wrap the organic produce in plastic, but not the toxic stuff! It really doesn't make sense to me.



Over here this is a legal requirement, if a store sells both organic and conventional veg of the same type the organic MUST be packaged (so that there can not be any doubt which is organic and they cannot get muddled up) Of course nothing says that the packaging has to be plastic.

As with all things avoiding plastic is a balancing act, you pick what you believe is the least worst choice. Sometimes there is no choice, we heat the house with a pellet furnace the pellets come in plastic bags, we reuse those we can as bin bags but we don't use 2-3 bags a day in the bin! While it is possible to get loose pellets it's more expensive and requires a special silo which is again expensive. I don't even buy the 25kg bags which would reduce the plastic as I find them a bit to heavy to handle so we get 20kg bags, I try to avoid the 15kg ones as of course the smaller the bag the more you use. The bags can can be recycled at the local tip at least.
 
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Jackie Frobese wrote:You maybe even end up getting containers that would have ended up in the landfill from others to put said products into...

On a similar line I have given up certain hygiene products entirely. I've learned that although some hygiene products are definitely necessary for some people, most are just gimmicky products that are another way for companies to get our money. This is especially true for toothpaste (brush with just water), chap-stick (usually unnecessary if you are well hydrated, and not addicted to the petroleum on your lips), nearly all make-up, and most cleaning products (you'd be surprised how much comes clean with just water and a rag of cut up old sheets or towels).  


Making my own means there is no petroleum and I make bars - not liquid versions. I like my tooth tablets over toothpaste, because it helps with the (utterly ridiculous level of) sensitivity in my teeth & gums; there is no petroleum in my homemade, organic, locally-sourced ingredients for lip balm; and my primary household cleaner ingredients are baking soda, vinegar, and the my homemade soap.
 
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I also was gonna say that since plastic seems to be on everything, I have done some cool stuff with labels that are on things.  I generally detest labels a d take them off if/when I can and just store things in mason jars when possible.  But some of the label art is pretty nifty and so not unlike a funky ransom note, I cut these cool bits out and tape them together to make fridge art stickers.  Here are a few examples:
7CA12D80-D380-44BE-8C38-5ADA55E884EA.jpeg
Plastic labels reinvented into meaningful messages fridge art
Plastic labels reinvented into meaningful messages fridge art
 
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r ranson wrote:

life without plastic is all about plastic-free lifestyle.  They sell plastic free goodies (I do all my Christmas shopping here!) for the kitchen, home, kids and more.  But they also have a great education section.  

10 easy tips for living without plastic!

2. Refuse plastic bags and bring your own reusable bags wherever you go – heck, while you're at it, REFUSE all single-use disposable plastics
Plastic bags are often used for minutes only before being discarded. And most plastic bags are not recycled, thus ending up in landfills – where they take hundreds of years to break down – or in the environment as toxic pollution.

There are now all kinds of reusable bags out there. Choose what works for you, and carry it with you in your pocket, coat, purse or car. We offer various ones here, including bags for produce.



show off your cloth shopping bags here

repairing reusable bags to make them last even longer

4. Use non-plastic containers for food – lunches, leftovers, freezing, storage, take-out, travelling...
There are now a variety of options to help you avoid using plastic for storing food...and avoiding polluting and leaching disposable take-out containers:

stainless steel and glass containers – airtight and non-airtight – with stainless steel lids

layered tiffins – for carrying various items at once in separate layers (e.g., nuts, fruit, chips, hummus, rize, curry...whatever)

insulated stainless steel thermal containers – for hot meals on the go

compartmentalized bento boxes made of stainless steel and wood – designed for sushi, fabulous for any lunch

again, don't underestimate the easy utility of the ubiquitous mason jar




learn about different kinds of bento box and their effects on our health

10. Have fun living with less plastic – don't let the enormity of the plastic problem get you down!
Sure, plastic waste is a huge problem, and it is a real drag that chemicals are coming out of plastics and being eaten and absorbed by people and wildlife all over the world, but remember, waves of change are in motion all around you, and you are part of a community of people who are commited to using less plastic.

So have fun with your plastic-free journey – be innovative and creative in looking for new ways to express your life without plastic.





Learn more about it at life without plastic

some of the links in this thread are affiliate links



Looks like a great website, with some nice products. I guess my worry is that we're encouraging people to discard a lot of plastic they already have, replacing it with these non-plastic alternatives. :(
 
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