Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My own Plastic Free February

Plastic Free February is a challenge set up by the Rodale Institute's web site. I usually roll my eyes at theme-months. February should be "Seed Starting Month" if anything for me, but the idea of a plastic free month has tickled the back of my head for years.

The Rodale challenge has three rules for their plastic free month:

1. No buying or acquiring new plastic.

2: No cooking with plastic or storing food in plastic.

3: Minimize all other plastic use.

It'll be hard not to store food in plastic, but I think I can manage to use canning jars instead (despite the super minimal plastic on their lids). Not buying or acquiring plastic will be difficult, however. Plastic is in everything, and it's nearly impossible to buy anything without plastic packaging these days.

A big problem that I'm going to have with the plastic free month is that I really cannot avoid plastic in some aspects of my life, especially where the farm animals are concerned. While I can avoid plastic in the things I purchase and use myself, I have lives that depend on me and those lives often depend on things that come packaged in plastic. I have horses eating grain from plastic feed bags, and sheep/ducks/horses all eat hay and straw that, while it usually comes with natural twine, once in a while is baled with plastic twine. I would love to feed real food like Lisa and Frank over at Mack Hill Farm, but at this point that's kind of unrealistic for me as we have no connections and no truck. Boo.

I have therefore added a fourth rule for myself. When rules 1, 2 or 3 are broken, I will do everything within my power to reuse or upcycle the plastic I use in February. Any foodsafe plastic container will become a seed starting tray, every plastic feed bag will be reused to line seed starting shelves or upcycled into something else, plastic twine will be knit/crocheted into produce bags (see future blogposts for some of these - I've got some great ideas, including how to make reusable grocery bags from feed bags!)

Hard plastic that is harder to reassign can be cut up and used to mark seed starting pots, and at the very worst (as with things like toilet paper packaging) I will buy only things packaged in recycled or recyclable plastic. I will also make a point to go to the small mom-and-pop hardware stores to purchase farm hardware necessities (hinges, screws, nails, etc) that come packaging free and in bulk.

Plastic containers like these milkshake cups (which contain 100% natural and local dairy) will have new lives as seed starting containers.

Hopefully this won't become too much of a stress for me. I have a feeling I'll be toting around a sizable knapsack this month to house my reusable bags, glass takeout containers and probably even a set of silverware to use if we go out to eat. I may look like a crazy person, but I'm okay with that (and kind of used to it!)


  1. I too am doing this, although since I've been doing it for a long time it won't be that hard for me. We get our milk in glass, don't own a plastic storage container. I think I'll do a blog post about ways to get around using plastic for food storage, a few tricks I've learned during my no plastic years.

    We're doing a No Buy February with a few other bloggers, and these two things will work beautifully together!

    Cheers, here's to a no plastic life! Can't wait to hear about how you do.

  2. CHiot's Run: i'm jealous you have a way to get your milk in glass. It was about a year ago that I was able to do that.

    Tanglewood Farms:

    I'm struggling with some of the same stuff as you in terms of what to do with the plastic I can't avoid.

  3. We get our milk in either glass or cartons, depending on which local dairy we buy from. Do your glass containers come with non-plastic tops? Ours don't, but it's still less plastic than buying jugs. I really look forward to your post on storing food without plastic. I'm going to try to use this year to purge myself of as much plastic as possible. My husband is pretty accepting as well, despite my obnoxious proclamation every time we go out to eat with friends of "You know that'll never truly biodegrade, right? It'll degrade sure, but it'll still exist -forever- as tiny chemical molecules..."

    My goal for the animals next season is to express my concern to our local hay-farmer such that he might switch entirely to using natural fiber twines on his bales. I hate to switch suppliers since his fields are close and he's a nice guy, but we throw out so much twine it's ridiculous!

  4. Baling twine can be woven into great doormats! The loom is very simple. I can show you next time you are here.

  5. Wow, I am in deep admiration of your journey here. I can't imagine going a month without using plastic. My keyboard is plastic, my work tools all have plastic components (I am a landscape gardener), and it just seems such an integral part of our lives, unfortunately. I'll be looking for some inspiration this month on how to reduce.