Archive for ‘Guest Blogger’

08/30/2012

Breaking it all down: Guest blog post by Roz!

In reading Passing up Plastic, the most common thought to cross my mind is “what about (insert common plastic product here)?”  Back when straws were mentioned as a covert offender in the war against plastic, I figured there had to be glass straws available.  And there are!  Over the next several weeks, I compiled a small list of everyday items that could or should be easily replaceable by non-plastic options and researched their alternatives.  Here is that list:

 

STRAWS – In the immortal words of Rodgers and Hammerstein, let’s start at the very beginning.  There are two companies that specialize in glass straws.  Since they are both quite expensive, I’m not bothered with them.  Makers of wholesale stainless steel products Onyx, however, make some very inexpensive straws.  They are four to a pack, and come with a cleaning brush!  Most online stores sell them for around $10 for the set, but I recently saw them at a Vancouver grocer for $7 and change.  I don’t use straws, but my roommate is buying some this week.

FREEZER BAGS – Most options are advertised as bio-degradable plastics, but that still doesn’t wash too well.  The most promising lead was from Australia and the manufacturer has gone under for misleading advertising (it seems California expects one to be forthright with just how long something will take to bio-degrade).  Sanctus Mundo offers airtight, stackable stainless steel containers.  The seals are silicone, which is borderline plastic and not bio-degradable, but these are way better than the alternatives!  My Plastic Free Life also has a great post on drying foods for storage.  Canning is another great option.  The lids will be plasticized though, so make sure it’s all BPA free.

COSMETICS – Bane of my womanly existence, I’m finding it very difficult to find reasonably priced cosmetics that are not packaged in plastic.  Being the kind of girl who finds a shop like Sephora utterly overwhelming, I’ve been going without face cream for about a month because I want a plastic-free option and don’t want to commit to a jar of cream that might smell too strong/leave my face too dry/make me break out/myriad of other excuses.  Whole Foods has a few options, so a goal for my week is to head out and buy one.  Unless, of course, one of you has a recommendation…  If so, please contact Celine or Carol-Lynne and we’ll have chats.

MAKE-UP – Much the same as cosmetics.  I haven’t run out of anything yet and happy not to have delved into this one too far as yet.  I’m thinking of Priya Means Love (at the moment, it seems her Etsy page is down, but you can contact her via Facebook) and products are available Grass Roots Environmental Products.

SHAMPOO – A squeaky clean scalp is one of the purest delights in life.  Priya’s is the only line I’ve found that doesn’t use plastic to package hair products, aside from lids.  I’m going to try her Lavender mud hair & scalp cleaner.  Again, if you can recommend a plastic-free shampoo or shampoo recipe that gives the clean scalp feeling of sodium laureth sulfate, I’d be delighted happy to have it.  I’ve got a damn thick mane and without a good lather there’s no chance of that soap reaching my scalp.

CLOTHING/LINEN STORAGE – In my Utopia, this means large, unde-bed cedar bark boxes with lids.  Stored goods don’t get dusty or moth-ravaged, but they can still breathe.  I haven’t found any such product.  The most promising yet is the Japanese sumibaku, which comes in 3L, 10L and 30L sizes.  It’s a dual layer fabric with charcoal in the middle, so it breathes and deodorizes at the same time.  The 30L bag is ¥2,600 ($33 CAD) and comes to about $68 with shipping from Japan.  I’ve inquired into the nature of the bag’s fabric.  If it’s natural, I’m going to request a friend in Japan bring a couple back.  The other option, of course, is a cedar chest.  They’re not cheap, but my family has one that’s going on 100 years where we keep the fancy books, a Cowichan, and some big blankets.  It’s the stuff of legends.

There’s a couple from the north of England who have been living nearly plastic-free for over five years.  Since they`re much more studied, I’ll leave you all with a great resource from their blog, Plastic is Rubbish, which addresses a lot of the “what about?” questions: The A to Z of plastic free products.

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07/20/2012

Guest Blog Post: “Ben Schiendelman: Bagless in Seattle”*

Ben is quick on the draw. I (Celine) wrote about meeting him and his subsequent plastic challenge conversion about week ago. We met during my last trip to Portland. The gin was his fault. Here is his first guest blog about how one goes disposable free in the Emerald City.

He doesn’t mention it in his post but Ben is working on launching seattlesubway.org (just sign up for the updates for now… expect awesomness later). He also has his own super rad blog here.

*my title, not his. haha

Hi everyone!

As you read in Celine’s post, trying to avoid plastic isn’t new to me – but it’s not something I’ve focused on in recent years. I live in Seattle, where like BC, we have mostly hydro power, and we also have a large central city with a strong downtown that’s ripe for transit investment. Our largest consumption of fossil fuels is in the ridiculous amount of driving people do in our city – so my advocacy here has been in pushing for fast, reliable, electric mass transit to give people a better way to get around.

But as you all know, that’s only part of the equation! We do a lot on the legislative level – this month, our city banned plastic grocery bags (mostly), and we’re working on passing the same law for the entire state. But in order to pass legislation like this, we need to show people first that there are better solutions. That’s why I’m so excited about Passing Up Plastic – it makes people consider the alternatives they have already and become open to making these changes permanently.

I’m actually doing something a little different than Celine and Carol-Lynne. I’m trying to eliminate my use of any disposable goods, if I can, not just plastic. My employer’s cafeteria provides disposable plastic cutlery – ‘compostable’ to make you feel better – and paper plates and bowls. After getting back from Portland, one of the first things I did was bring a pair of chopsticks, a spoon and a bowl to work, to not only eliminate the cutlery, but also the trash! Producing a paper plate takes as much fossil fuel to create and ship as any plastic wrapper. Of course, so does a ceramic bowl and a pair of wooden chopsticks – but only once, rather than adding more fossil fuel every use!

I’ll write more soon about the mistakes I’ve already made, and what I’ve done about them.

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07/01/2012

Guest Blog Post: “Plastic: Making the Cut”

Guest blogger: Darragh Grove-White of Victoria, BC.

 Darragh befriended Carol-Lynne sometime in 2011 and was affected directly by her Plastic Free 2012 pledge. Here is his account of how his awareness has changed his habits:

Copyright © cesarharada.com, Creative Commons

Reducing the amount of plastics in my life has been an interesting process of baby steps these last few months. It’s something I’ve become more aware of in my day-to-day things that I do.  There are a couple of reasons I do it: one is because it oftentakes  1000+ years for plastics to fully decompose and secondly, many animals are dying because of the harmful ingestion of plastics in its many forms. The good news or, rather the optimistic side of me says that much of this is preventable, and I’m learning to do it in the little ways first.

When I buy six-packs now, I make a commitment to myself to cut the loops so no little critter or bird gets caught in them. When you see me with coffee, it’ll usually have no lid. In fact, I’m becoming quite stealthy walking around with hot, open cups of liquid these days. Also, when I’m in stores, I do my very best to refuse plastic bags and ask that they give it to the next person that needs it. Just three days ago I went to the grocery store and left with about 60 pounds of food in two brown bags that started to rip on my three block walk home! Sure it can be a bit inconvenient but it’s potentially life or death for another animal if I neglect it, I figure.

One place where I may be making one of the bigger differences is probably at work, however. I tend the bars at local theatres in town and I never give people straws with their drinks unless they explicitly ask. When people try ordering bottles of water, I usually get them a fresh glass with ice and lime and tell them how tap water is even better. It’s funny that even in the little ways, we can make big changes that are big because they add up over time. Although I’m only a few months in to my plastic awareness journey, it’s already feeling rewarding.

– Darragh