Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A quick update on my Plastic Free February

I'm sorry I've been slacking on the coverage of Plastic Free February. I figured I'd do a super quick post to share some tips and facts I've learned in the past week of trying to live without plastic.

  • Nearly every restaurant will oblige you with plastic-free carryout if they can.
    This might mean getting your side-o-guacamole dumped on top of your burrito at Chipotle, but you can definitely still eat it! I also discovered with Chipotle that while I usually enjoy using a fork, if my alternative is plastic I can definitely eat anything from their menu using tortilla chips as a utensil.

  • We buy our water from the grocery store. I know this is totally taboo in the "natural living community" but our well water tastes like eggs and while it's been deemed potable, I cannot stand the slimy salty taste it has after it has gone through our softener. Our softener is turned down to the lowest setting possible, too. That said, when we buy water I always look at the plastic jugs we store it in and this little voice in my brain goes "Ewwwww..." but for some reason I never set my mind to finding a solution. I'd seen folks come in with huge glass 5-6 gallon jugs but for a 5'3" me those just aren't feasible without some sort of dispensing system, and all of those systems are not only over-the-top expensive, they're totally plastic as well.
    My solution came to me this morning while I was daydreaming about making elderberry wine this spring. Cider Jugs. Duh. Cider still comes in glass jugs in some places, and those glass jugs are a gallon, and would be easily refillable at the water station in the grocery store. I'm still trying to find a source for jugs with threaded caps rather than pop-off "snapple caps" as they call them, but I'm on the right track! Plastic be damned!

  • It is nearly impossible to buy art and craft supplies without plastic of some sort. Last night we made a run to the craft store and I picked up some new watercolor brushes. I bought the brushes with natural bristles and wooden handles, but they still had the little plastic tubes to protect the bristles from being mussed. Of course, having once worked in an art store I know that there are always brushes without these little plastic tubes (whether they were lost in transit, or pulled off by some obnoxious little kid) so I plucked the little plastic tubes off of my own brushes and snugged them carefully onto the heads of brushes that otherwise might have been overlooked by discerning customers due to their unprotected bristles. Tada! No plastic. Of course, I was dooming someone else to buying the plastic, but I was also protecting the bristles of the brushes that might otherwise have been discarded due to shelf-wear.

  • I have made a few quick goals for myself for February, other than the glass cider jugs. One is to switch to all glass containers for my cooking herbs and spices so that I can buy them in bulk from now on instead of buying little plastic shakers. The other goal is to eliminate all plastic in my daily hygiene. This means (dun dun dunnnn) making many of my own hygienic products. Just this morning, Chiot's Run posted a fantastic tutorial for how to make your own tooth powder, and I am strongly considering switching to it (though I'll flavor with peppermint or cinnamon rather than lemon) if I can find a way to keep my teeth nice and strong without the use of fluoride.

  • My final note is that at some point I plan to do another tutorial for upcycling plastics. I have now used plastic feed bags to make a boot tray, and my mother has found a way to turn the wooden boxes that clementines come in into seed starting trays by using the plastic mesh that comes on the box lid. I've got to find the time to photograph and document these so I can share them, but let me know if you have any other ideas!


  1. My only suggestion is that you eventually write books for progressive eco-friendly craft-farmers.

  2. I love the idea of scooping Mexican food with a tortilla chip instead of plastic utensil. Brilliant!

    Also, about the water. Is the water you are buying filtered local tap water? If so, it's not such an eco-crime. You're still supporting the local water system. You're using your own container instead of plastic bottles. You've avoided shipping miles -- except for those of your own to get to and from the store. Presumably water isn't the only thing you're buying so you would have made that trip anyway, right?

  3. Do you have a local wine making/home brewing store? They should have glass jugs with screw caps. Or with ceramic plugs and rubber gaskets. You just need to make sure the caps are metal and not plastic. I've found the metal ones rust, but with careful cleaning yours shouldn't get as bad as mine.

  4. I've cut down massively on the amount of plastics I take home from the grocery store, etc. I'm also using Corning-ware to store leftovers in. I love that stuff! That said and done, I will never, ever give up my Diva cup (well...maybe after menopause...LOL?), so I'd have to say that's the one plastic thing you'd have to pry out of my cold, dead hand. And I know this doesn't sound sustainable, but the (I mean THE) most exciting day on our farm was the day we hooked up to city water. I never thought I'd say dog bless sodium hypochlorite, but there you have it.