Category: Use Less Plastic
Wednesday, January 9
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I firmly believe our actions in the kitchen have an impact on Mother Earth. There are so many things each of us can do every day with what and how we eat that can make a big difference in the environment. It’s empowering!
Each year I choose a new year’s resolution to support those beliefs. Last year I decided our family needed to use less plastic and disposable items. I wrote a thorough post about the goal, with some information explaining what inspired my goal. And then, well, then life happened. And not much changed. And I didn’t reach my goal. This is not to say that we are over-users of plastic and disposables. I have always tried to be thoughtful about that. But things didn’t get any better than they were in the past.
As I look back on 2012 I can honestly say that using less plastic and less disposable items is the hardest Eat Well, Heal the Planet goal I’ve made so far. Eating less meat was way easier than I thought it would be. Joining a CSA was a fabulous way to get our family eating more veggies and eating more locally. But less plastic? Less disposables? Oh my, it’s hard to do, especially in this throw-away, fast-paced society in which we live. It really takes effort. And I didn’t put in the effort I needed to.
Instead of giving up and abandoning the goal, I’m going to give it another try! And I’m going to start with just a few specific goals and build from there.
- We have a lot of paper napkins on hand in our house. Last year I had visions of using cloth napkins, which we did TWICE. Yes, just two times. Here’s the plan for this year. Use up all the paper napkins that we have already. While we work through that supply, I will build up my cloth napkin stores. I am NOT going to buy more paper napkins for our daily use. Once they’re gone, it’s cloth all the way!
- I need to use less plastic baggies in my kids’ lunches. By the time school starts in the fall, I want to have transitioned to reusable metal containers, BPA- and pthalate-free plastic containers, and cloth pouches. I’m giving myself 9 months to make that transition happen.
- I am going to find and try various snack recipes to replace the snacks I buy at the store…you know, applesauce pouches, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, etc. I’m not going to expect myself to give up those convenient snacks cold turkey, but I want to try to find a realistic way to try to replace some or all of them by making those snacks myself.
That’s it for now. I’ll make more small goals as the year moves on and I will let you know what they are and how my progress goes.
I’m curious, did any of you try to cut back on plastic and disposables last year? How did it go? Any great tricks you can share from your journey? I am very interested to hear your feedback and about your experience!
Here’s to a more successful 2013, filled with less plastic and lots of pretty cloth napkins!
Wednesday, May 23
This giveaway is now closed, but it’s still a handy post and there are some great green cleaning tips in the comments, so keep reading!
I recently decided to ‘green’ my cleaning supplies, in support of my New Year’s resolution to use less plastic and create less waste. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a clean freak. I love knowing when something has been bleached and is SO SO clean. But I don’t love knowing that every time I run my dishwasher, I’m draining a bunch of yucky chemicals out of my house into the world. I must also admit that, until now, I didn’t real trust green cleaning supplies. I just wasn’t so sure that they would actually work.
Well, I’m happy to report that Phase 1 of cleaning green has been a success! I discovered a few great products that have worked really well, including Bon Ami and Seventh Generation’s dishwasher soap, among others. I’ve also gone back to using good old vinegar and baking soda. That is by far my most favorite cleaning agent for my stainless steel kitchen sink! One day I cleaned the kitchen counters with vinegar and Anna walked in and asked what was cooking for dinner. It was pretty cute.
Coincidentally, at the same time that I started swapping out a lot of my cleaning supplies I was introduced to the company Full Circle Home. I was totally game to try out some of their products and do a giveaway on the blog since I was already looking into these types of products! Full Circle makes beautiful cleaning tools from sustainable and renewable sources and I’m really liking everything I’ve tried so far. I was most excited to try out the cellulose cloths, hoping to replace a lot of my paper towel use. They are super absorbent and you can toss them in the dishwasher to clean them. Super cool! Oh, and the walnut scrubber sponge? I never thought I could find a sponge besides the classic green and yellow Scotch-Brite sponges to make me happy, but this one is just as great!
They also sent me a freezer compost bin…how smart is that? Freezing compost scraps – genius! But we’re not going to talk compost just yet…that is another post for another day! (I promise, we WILL talk compost at some point, though!)
Giveaway time! One of you randomly-selected, lucky clean freaks will receive the same lovely package of Full Circle Home goodies I did, including: Walnut Scrubber Sponge, Scrap Happy (freezer compost bin), Stick ‘Em magnetic dish towel, Tidy dish cloths, Scoop sponge, Squeeze cellulose cloths, and The Ring veggie scrubber. How to enter!
- Leave a comment on this post! That’s it! If you feel like leaving a green cleaning tip, we’d love to hear them!
- For a second entry, “Like” Full Circle on Facebook (I’m loving their Facebook page, lots of great sustainability info!)
- For a third entry, “Like” This Week for Dinner on Facebook
You must leave separate comments to get the extra entries. Prize must be shipped in the U.S. All comments need to be posted by Midnight, PT on Wednesday, May 30.
Good luck and happy cleaning!
Friday, March 30
The other day my friend Emily (she’s the blog’s godmother…you can thank her for the existence of TWFD!) emailed me and said the following:
so….remember at the beginning of the year when your blog resolution was to get rid of using one-time-use plastic stuff? well, i tried making the same one…but i’m failing miserably? what are you doing? what do you do about trash bags? lunch? etc….i would love to know…you always have good ideas.
I responded with:
yes, I remember my resolution…I think about it every day and how it is SO HARD.
I went on to describe how I am not nearly far enough along with my goal as I want to be.
These are my new, beloved food storage containers. I’ll get to them in a minute. Promise.
Since I started making food-related new year’s resolutions that help the environment, I haven’t actually felt that challenged. Eating less meat turned out to be actually pretty easy. Joining a CSA was a simple and wonderful shift in the way I buy and use produce.
Using less plastic? TOUGH. Plastic is everywhere. It is such a part of daily life. Which just solidifies my resolve to want to change that fact…but, yeah, 3 months into my goal and I’m not nearly as far along as I’d like to be. But sometimes change is slow…just so long as it is steady!
I have taken a few steps to reduce our plastic and one-time plastic use. I wanted to share what I’ve done. And, of course, I want to hear how you are doing or what tips you might have. I’m also hoping that checking in with all of you will help re-light my fire and really get this resolution going!
What I have done so far:
- I almost never use little plastic baggies anymore. I’m not perfect, they still sneak in here and there. But they hardly EVER find their way into my kids’ lunchboxes and I am rarely using them to store food in the fridge, unless I just can’t find a container that works, and even then I try to use foil instead if possible (which I can then wash and recycle).
- I replaced my plastic food storage containers (which were all recycled, by the way!) with glass containers. I LOVE THEM. I picked up the Rubbermaid Glass containers that they have at Target and my local grocery store. The plastic lids are BPA-free, the glass bowls are great sizes and shapes that are actually useful and, the best part, everything stacks and stores together SO WELL. Please note, I do not have any sort of working relationship with Rubbermaid. I looked around at different types of glass containers, thought these looked good, bought them and gave them a try. And I seriously love these containers.
- Buy a few more glass containers (specifically small ones) for storing food so that I don’t need plastic baggies for storing leftovers in the fridge.
- Find some good, non-plastic storage containers for the girls’ lunchboxes. While I have stopped using plastic baggies in their lunches, the containers I’m using are still made out of plastic. I would love to find some alternatives.
- Develop a system where I actually USE my re-useable grocery bags lying all around the house.
- Buy more cloth napkins.
- To address Emily’s question…what about trash bags? Hmmmmm….still don’t know the answer to that one, but am thinking long and hard about it.
- I don’t buy much individually packaged foods…but we do buy granola bars and fruit leathers all the time for lunches. I am going to start a quest for homemade versions that the kids like!
I’m going to stop there for now. I think that’s a long enough to-do list for now!
This year’s resolution has made me much more thoughtful in my daily life. I think a lot more about recycling. I think a lot more about how to buy things with less packaging and often do so. The resolution has definitely gotten me on the right track, even if I feel like I still have a long way to go.
Please share your own experiences with using less plastic. And tips are more than welcome!
Thursday, January 12
I have not eaten a Twinkie in, well, honestly, I cannot remember the last time I ate a Twinkie! I really think it’s probably been since middle school. Maybe even elementary school.
So last week when I was shopping with the girls and spotted a box of Twinkies at the store, it’s not surprising a little nostalgia kicked in. And I actually bought a box. I couldn’t believe it myself. The girls hadn’t even heard of Twinkies and for some reason I just felt like I had to introduce them to this childhood treat.
Two things happened.
- The Twinkies are still sitting in the box. (The girls are totally uninterested.)
- Hostess declared bankruptcy.
Okay, I admit, I doubt the fact that I purchased a box of Twinkies for the first time ever jinxed the company. BUT…it does seem like a strange coincidence, no?
Here’s the thing. When I bought the Twinkies, I actually felt guilty. They represent for me everything that is wrong with our broken food system. It’s processed food, packed with sugar and corn syrup and filled with something that can be described as “creamy” but not as actual “cream.” On top of that, each Twinkie is individually wrapped in plastic and then thrown into a cardboard box. So, yes, I felt guilty buying those Twinkies and I don’t think that guilt was necessarily misplaced. I mean, it certainly wasn’t supporting my New Year’s resolution.
When I read a bit about Hostess’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy last night, I learned this is the second time in a decade that the company has declared bankruptcy. So, after failing once and having debts restructured and forgiven, they are doing it again. While I don’t want 19,000 people to suddenly lose their benefits or their jobs, I’m wondering if this is a sinking ship that should be saved. Their problems appear to stem more from labor costs rather than poor sales, so I don’t think this is a statement that people have exhibited less demand for their product. BUT STILL…something isn’t working at Hostess. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
So, you may be wondering, was the Twinkie I ate after shooting this photograph any good? It was just how I remembered it. Which means it was okay. And for those of you who are interested, Nate and I are taking bids on our Twinkies. We will entertain offers of at least $100 per Twinkie. Okay, okay, you can still get Twinkies. But given their long shelf life, I think we’ll hang onto these puppies and cash in at a later date!
Update on our ‘Twinkies For Sale’ – Nate has decided that he’s not good at timing the peak, so he will be auctioning off 1 Twinkie every 10 years. Mark your calendars!
Thursday, January 5
That’s my focus each year when I come up with my new year’s resolution. Our behavior in the kitchen and when we eat impacts the environment in really big and meaningful ways. Each year I try to find something our family can do in our food life to help impact the environment in a positive way. 2009: Eat less meat. (Wowzah, the amount of resources going into meat production is astonishing!) 2010: Eat more veggies. (Our family did this by joining a CSA, which automatically upped our plant intake, and our fruits and veggies were all grown close to home). Now it’s time to announce the 2012 resolution! Are you ready? Drumroll please…
Use less plastic.
Mind if I get on a soapbox for a moment? Then I’ll hop off and explain this year’s resolution. I promise the soapbox shouldn’t take too long.
Humans are hurting Mother Earth. We are stripping her of natural resources and in return giving back garbage, and in many cases uber-toxic garbage that doesn’t just hurt the earth but our bodies as well. The way we live is simply not sustainable, no matter how much we want it to be. Even though I’m getting a little preachy, I promise I’m not getting self-righteous. I’m part of the problem. We all are. BUT…that is empowering because it means we can ALL make a difference by making small changes every day. Okay, soapbox lecture over.
This year I’m going to focus on using less plastic, both for the benefit of Mother Earth and our family’s health. This goal was initially inspired by the documentary Bag It. Everyone should see this movie. Look for it on PBS. If you can’t find it on TV, buy a copy. Or save it to your Netflix queue. Whatever you do, be sure to put this documentary on your to-watch list!!!
Here is what my “Use Less Plastic” goal will entail:
- I am going to try to eliminate single-use plastic from our repertoire. Our society treats plastic like it’s disposable. It’s not. It lasts forever AND it requires a lot of resources to be produced in the first place. Start looking around. When you really take notice, it’s astonishing just how reliant we’ve become on plastic and just how cavalier we are about its disposal. Because of this, it’s actually really hard to cut out single-use plastic. I’ll be sure to share our journey as the year progresses!
- We are going to use more reusable products in general, including containers and coverings for our food (glass and fabric wherever possible), cloth napkins, reusable grocery bags, no plastic baggies in our kids’ lunches, etc. It will be an ongoing process I am sure.
- When we do use plastic, I am going to try really hard to find plastic that is phthalate- and BPA-free. Trust me. You don’t want that crap getting into your body and every time we come into contact with those chemicals, they are getting into our systems. I’m going to share just one tidbit from Bag It that really got me thinking. The host, Jeb, and his wife had cut plastic out of their lives. He had his BPA and phthalate levels checked then went and stayed at a friend’s apartment for TWO days, using normal, everyday, “safe” consumer products (canned food, microwaveable plastic dishes, lotions, deodorant, kids’ shampoo…all things that claim to be safe, even for babies). After the two days, Jeb had his blood retested. His phthalate levels increased about 11 times and his BPA levels went from undetectable up 110 times. That was after just two days. The good news? It’s reversible. Cut the products with those chemicals from our lives and they will leave our bodies.
So, there you have it. That’s my goal. Use less plastic. I hope you’ll join me!