Plastic Free July 2019

#1

Hi all! I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m signing up for Plastic Free July! In the spirit of “lots of people doing it imperfectly is better than a tiny few doing it perfectly”, they have a few sign up options:

  1. Avoid single-use plastic packaging
  2. Target takeaway items (the Big 4 of Bags, Bottles, Straws and Coffee cups)
  3. Go completely Plastic Free

I’m signing up for 1 & 2, and may attempt #3 with a couple of modifications. This thread will be to share support, feedback, and ideas if you get stuck!

If you want to share general environmental tips, head over here:

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Small Things You Did Today to Reduce Your Environmental Impact
#2

I’m in! I’m trying to go completely plastic-free, but with a few exceptions I’m negotiating upfront with Mr H, like disposable nappies overnight for Ewok.

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#3

I’m in on some level. I need to talk to Mr Pancakes about #1 and #3 because we both do the purchasing of those things for our family.

Cloth nappies I should get back out of the box already.

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#4

My plan is to apply this to myself, with Ponder’s involvement up to him. For instance, when I change a daytime nappy it will be into a cloth one, even if Ponder previously changed Duckling into a disposable. But if I want to buy a thing, I have to make sure it has no plastic packaging or is some kind of re-use program. I need to ask the local gardening store if I can return pots in perfect condition to be re-used or it’s going to be a busy end-of-June for me in the garden!

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#5

I will try to reduce my plastic use but I’m wary of absolutes and for me them not leading to sustained change.

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#6

I’m going to try this…
immediately begins wondering about a variety of things I don’t know how to get in non-plastic containers

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#7

We basically have bags/bottles/straws/coffee cups on lock – not perfect, but very little use. Single use plastics would be harder, but it’d also be worth seeing what we can do there… that’d be especially relevant for fruit, this time of year.

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#8

I soooo wish any of the bazillion stores around me had berries in paper boxes instead of plastic (farmer’s markets will at least dump into my container, so I need to be better about going while they’re on!).

There have been a couple of years where I managed to time the season for blueberries and strawberries at farms, picking enough to freeze and can for the whole year. The time required to pick and process on the same day, and that day needing to be weather friendly, isn’t working yet this year :confused: As well as having the space for storage.


I’m in. I like your thought, @PDM. I sometimes find challenges to be helpful in sorting out my true priorities, but every once in a while it’s a fine line between evaluation and frustration.


Switches I’ve made before now as old things ran out that for me are easy enough to continue:

  • non-plastic dental floss
  • silicone menstrual cup
  • food containers and utensils everywhere (bars, food trucks, grocery stores - so far nobody has turned down my jars or bags)
  • as many bulk goods as possible, especially coffee/tea, olive oil, nuts/seeds, liquid soap/laundry soap
  • shampoo/conditioner bar and bar soap
  • aquatic-safe sun protectant cream in metal tin

Switches to less but not no plastic that will be exceptions for me:

  • biweekly contacts (went back to these instead of dailies)
  • electric toothbrush
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#9

I’m in! I’m not sure I can be entirely plastic free because I know for a fact my mom is getting disposable plates etc for vacation but I might be able to convince her to get compostable ones?

I’ve been meaning to buy a set of cutlery for H and I to have in the car/diaper bag for meals out. Can probably even make one with a visit to goodwill.

My challenge will be the grocery store. I take my reusable produce bags but some fruits still come in plastic plus a lot of other things so this will give me a push to examine that and see how we can reduce.

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#10

I was trying to think if I could accomplish this. I still would have to use some plastics (specifically for dog poo and litterbox cleanouts) because I am definitely not willing to be that neighbor that throws animal poo directly into the garbage can in the middle of summer (lol). But the two biggest things that would hold me back are: milk and tofu. Milk not because I drink a lot of it (I drink hardly any), but because I use it for yogurt and half and half (or cream) for coffee. I think there is a brand here that is in glass bottles, but they still would have a plastic cap (required by law I believe), and anyway, they might be ultra-pasteurized, which won’t work for my purposes.

WELL. I started doing some research, and it seems some higher quality brands of dry (dehydrated) goat milk, once reconstituted, have the same properties as raw goat milk. IE YOU CAN MAKE YOGURT AND CHEESE WITH IT. So. I am going to do a little research and see if I can find any locally.

As for coffee, we all know I have a coffee addiction. However, I might be able to substitute a good pu-er in the mornings. I do put cream or milk in it, but it is less important than it is for coffee, for me, and see the above about dry goat milk.

As for tofu, I do not live in an area with a high enough Asian population to be able to get it fresh, so that is not an option. Maybe I could go without it for a month. I don’t eat it all the time, and I sometimes go weeks or months without any.

I assume using items already purchased and packages in plastic is allowed though? (Ie condiment bottles (even olive oil, although there is a bulk place now I think that has it), miso, tubs of gochugang, stuff like that.)

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#11

Yeah, it’s just common sense to keep using groceries you’ve already bought rather than letting them go to waste so you can buy them unpackaged / make them from scratch with unpackaged ingredients.

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#12

I probably “can’t” go totally plastic-free. At least not if this excludes plastic products I already own, like floss, or toothpaste from a plastic package. (ETA: from the above comment, seems like this is ok, it’s more focused on not generating new plastic waste.)

I already do #2 pretty well. (Hahahahaaaaaaa.) No straws, no drinks out, reusable water bottle carried everywhere, backpack and reuse bags for groceries 95% of the time. Shipping stuff from Amazon might be the biggest issue, since I still have $50 of credit on there, and everything will come with bubble wrap. And resisting impulse purchases when I’m out with friends who want to get food.

#1 - The biggest things would be frozen vegetables and meat substitutes like Soyrizo. Candy, I can get my fix from bulk bins and paper-wrapped bars. I guess I could get canned vegetables, but that might lead to even more waste. Are metal cans easier to recycle? Are 3-4 cans better than 1 big plastic bag? The ideal is still fresh vegetables, but my first month of trying that has proven it difficult to go 100% fresh and not go insane from buying groceries every day.

Meat subs - I saw a recipe for seitan, I could probably find bulk vital wheat gluten somewhere and make that. Gets rid of the pre-packaged options, and might even be cheaper, but it’s more work.

Another challenge will be stickers on produce. I confirmed with my city’s waste disposal department that they aren’t compostable. My options:

  • Buy produce at farmer’s markets or co-ops. More expensive but likely to be local, less transportation behind the scenes, and less/no packaging.
  • Look through produce bins at regular grocery stores and take items without stickers. Cheaper but feels like cheating.
  • ??
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#13

Homemade seitan is very easy, though takes some waiting time. I usually use the recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (I just made some yesterday.) It takes about 2 hours start to finish (but only about 10 minutes of active “doing” time). I make it when I know I am going to be around the house doing other things. You can freeze it also. Bob’s Red Mill seems to be higher quality, but I have successfully used bulk bin vital wheat gluten as well. Vital wheat gluten isn’t cheap but it is definitely cheaper than buying pre-made.

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#14

Thanks! I saw a couple people who used a pressure cooker, and that only needed 16-20 minutes. What method does Bittman use?

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#15

Oh! I don’t have a pressure cooker so I have never heard of that method, that is super fast. With the Bittman method, you knead it briefly, let it rest 20-30 min, and then simmer it in liquid (you can use any kind of broth, I usually use one that is vegetable broth + soy sauce) for 1 - 1.5 hours (turning every 30 min). Then you let it cool. The end, super simple. :slight_smile: You just have to be around to turn it.

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#16

Cool cool. I’ll definitely try this out if I can find bulk VWG. Fred Meyer is a no, possible the co-op near me has it, but I’m gonna need to hunt this down.

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#17

This is an excellent approach. Edit: this was a reply to @LadyDuck but it took me too many attempts and I lost the quote along the way.

I will definitely need Mr Pancakes support though otherwise I’ll fall back to asking him to do all the things so I don’t need to make the extra mental/physical effort to do the plastic free one. I know me :slightly_frowning_face:

#18

I don’t know about the US but cans here are usually plastic lined. Sometimes it’s better to buy the bigger package so there’s less waste in total?

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#19

I’m going to aim again for #3 but work more on bringing containers to the butcher for meat (the easiest way to tackle this would be to cut out meat entirely but DH is not willing to do that and this is about compromise.) I’ve been lazy the last few months in trying to reduce plastic and should really buckle down more on this, since we can afford the better quality.

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#20

I agree that using things you already own with plastic is fine. Every once in a while when I’m reading about challenges like this I read where people throw away all their tupperware and buy a few flats of jars - to me that is the exact opposite spirit of this type of challenge.

For me this means using up what I already have BEFORE buying the more sustainable option (even though I lust after more fancypants makeup at the moment!), and reusing plastic items in my house until they are completely ruined. So, an old conditioner bottle is used for mixing indoor plant food, for example. Yeah I could use a jar, but I might as well use something that I can’t reuse for food storage and not tie up a precious jar :wink:

@MonkeyJenga it’s been a couple of years since I looked it up, but I remember reading a series of statistic comparisons that concluded the energy used to produce canned and frozen vegetables/fruit is the same, so as far as environmental impact, canned vegetables come out slightly ahead because the cans are typically steel with an aluminum inner coating and can be recycled.

I’m already getting so many good ideas here! I just realized I am going to have to skip buying Ben & Jerry’s ice cream unless I go to the scoop shop across town. My uterus thinks this is a necessary ritual every 3-4 weeks :laughing:

I think I’m going to attempt to go completely plastic-purchase free. It’s only one month so if I have to go without something entirely maybe I’ll realize I don’t need it after all, or can find something that’s a “lateral” replacement rather than a “same” replacement. I went through a similar journey going car-free in winter - my purchasing habits totally changed when it wasn’t feasible to stop at the store on the way home anymore.

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