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After a talk this week by Jon Young, I walked my bike to the subway with a client wh is becoming a friend. She told me what an inspiration I was to her and what about me had helped her change to a life less plastic. I thought about your column on that, Beth. She said that seeing me make choices inspired her. I thought that making those options available to others made a difference (teaching, selling alternatives to plastics, refilling body care products etc.
As a seller of bulk things, it is the exception to receive bulk items NOT wrapped in plastic. It is telling that I can name what I didn't receive in plastic (even if it was inside a cardboard box): soap nuts that I negotiated to send me in a burlap sack which I had to send her, paper-wrapped toilet paper, and African Black Soap which came delightfully wrapped in kraft paper inside a cardboard box. Glass bottles? In #4 plastic. Except for the case packs directly from the manufacturer come to think of it! Ceramic filters? In plastic. Stainless Steel Lunch boxes? In plastic. Glass jars? In that super useless filmy plastic that's always broken open anyhow. But zinc oxide, salts and baking soda are in double walled paper. That the supplier then wraps in ultra thin plastic.
I've had requests to not package in plastic from suppliers go horribly wrong. One family business that makes totally not plastic items told me I was forcing her to be more wasteful by not wanting each item separately zip lock bagged. To prove her point, she uses crap loads of bubble wrap that she tells me she had to buy new. Another supplier responded to my request to reduce the plastic wrapping by putting my hundreds of glass jars in filmy ultra thing plastic bags and dumping them in giant overweight boxes with some packing peanuts. So unpacking these is a dangerous mess of reaching into the packing peanuts and picking out broken glass. It's awful, and I am sure they are packing this stupidly just to punish me for asking. Of course, the breakage is my fault because I requested low plastic.
So on that Mercury Retrograde inspired note, I want to conclude that I agree: we do our best, we aim to consume less, and if everyone else got on board, we might be able to turn things around. Buying from bulk bins doesn't mean NO plastic, but it means the plastic burden is shared with many. That's better.
1 week ago on Is It Cheating to Stock up on Restaurant Burritos?
I have always asked for no covers with my cheques, like for 28 years (except for the first one, I think. I was too excited to consider this!). Or maybe I don't always remember, because sometimes I got them. Last time I got cheques for my business, and for me, I got free pouches, no doubt made of plastic fabric. Maybe they thought this didn't count. So next time I order, I'll have to anticipate new waste. Also, the fricking boxes are vacuum sealed in plastic. Grrr. The thing that is so infuriating about trying to consume less plastic, is going to the trouble of asking to not waste nicely, and then having waste sprung on me anyhow, like negotiating for a glass instead of a paper cup, then having a plastic straw popped in at the last second…
Hopefully if they are asked not to include them often enough, it will become an opt in thing.
1 week, 4 days ago on Opting Out of Toxic Checkbook Covers
Very cool. Bash on in Majesty!
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?
I teach people how to make better choices and better body care products. In my experience, people "get it" different ways:
Some changed when they connect with a problem, like environmental degradation or a human rights abuse.
Some change only when that problem has a face, an individual person harmed such as a family member getting cancer.
Some change when it becomes easy, or fun to change.
Some change when people they care about change.
Some change for the sake of their personal health, or that of their children or family.
I try to tell people the reasons to change, and show people how easy and fun it is to start doing it. I hope I hit a few marks in taking this approach.
I held a contest once, asking my clients what they learned that surprised them or made them "change". When I feel tired and less than useful, I read Wynette's winning entry. http://www.anarreshealth.ca/node/1231
What made you change, Beth? Did it start with the albatross?
I think about how I used to "be a Breck Girl". We were poor, and my mother washed her hair with baking soda, but buying this brand of shampoo in my teens made me feel as if I belonged in some tiny way. When I got my legs as a person, I didn't need to have a brand lend me support and I could be the freak I am today!
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Thinking About Toothpaste at a Meditation Retreat
You both went off the Richter scale of coolness!
4 months, 2 weeks ago on Do I Look Good in Plastic?
I'm going with:
Plastic falls apart and breaks. Yes, it does. And then unlike glass, it's just toxic waste.
Duct tape will not fix everything.
For plumbing bits, second hand stores and free cycling are my go-to s.
My last adventure in shower heads had me "buying" a metal looking thing on Canadian Tire points that turned out to be plastic. So I returned it.
You are heroic. The fracking things should be made of durable materials and last forever with cleaning.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Lessons Learned from Failed Plastic Plumbing Repair
5 months ago on Dear Adam Levine – You Would Be So Much Hotter Without the Plastic Bottles
Big companies, especially evil giants such as SC Johnson, don't need our support - they pay to create their own. I feel comfortable giving them a big boo hiss.
I use ziplock bags for bringing dry goods home from my food coop and for camping. I keep washed & dried ziplocks with my camping gear. I use them because I get around on foot and by bike, and I can handle bringing glass jars and stainless steel containers for wet stuff, I can't manage without compact lightweight packaging, too.
There's a bulk food pantry that I barter with and I bring them labelled foil ziplocks and they refill them. I also struggle with big plastic 4L/gallon jugs - my supplier refills mine, and I put the hydrosols in glass gallon jugs here.
The fact that the majority of raw vegan super foods (maca, goji berry, cacao nuts, kale chips etc) come in plastic ziplock type, drives me bonkers. I do get infuriated when people seem to choose personal health over planetary health. I am working on the bulk food pantry and edging them towards compromises such as "biodegradable" zip locks and cellophane bags. I just bought these stick on metal ties to convert bags to re closables.
So I do believe in positive compromises. I just don't think ziplock needs our support here on the cutting edge.
Love & RRRevolution, Tracey
5 months, 1 week ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?
@EmilieV MMM I'd be very worried about the Volatile Organic Compounds in the air around a plastic using machine. Coloured plastic is really toxic and carcinogenic. When we make recycled plastic, we often use 50% new plastic. I'd like to see our old plastic shredded, not melted, into a new kind of low resource ashphalt, not toys.
1 year, 7 months ago on 3-D Printing: Inspiring Creativity or Just Proliferating More Plastic Crap?
New technology always brings wit it the potential for good or ill. If we are into plastic crap, we'll make plastic crap with 3-D printing.If we are into quality durable and innovative goods,we'll make that. You can guess what's going to happen. I look forward to "My replicator sucks. Can I borrow your 20th century wrench?"
"There's no reason starbucks can't create reusable measuring cups for hot drinks. Though I would place bets that if they did so they'd be made of plastic, just from a breakage standpoint."
The Second Cup, a Canadian franchise, uses stainless steel measuring cups that they rinse. Easy peasy!
I've only been to a Starbucks a few times. I've been boycotting them since I found out that they are the official coffee shop of Guantanamo Bay. When I got out a megaphone in Ottawa as part of the Campaign to Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, and read out the allegations, well, they kinda barred me...
1 year, 7 months ago on Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes
Awesome! I am going to refer my clients to this post.
One other way that tiny doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals cause harm: when a pregnant woman absorbs these chemicals - which can even come from smog - the embryo or fetus is growing SO quickly that the slightest hormonal shift or glitch can lead to asthma, autism (PDD pervasive developmental disorders) and genital/reproductive abnormalities. Plastic and smog are probably the culprits in the exponential growth of PDDs - from 1 in 10,000 people affected to 1 in 100 today - and the trend continues! The plastic apocalypse is playing out in our bodies as well as our oceans.
1 year, 7 months ago on Why Chemicals in Plastics May Have Worse Effects at Lower Doses
I've been reading all of your comments and am dying to chime in. I manufacture cosmetics, and I package only in metal and glass, preferably that my clients provide. What you need to know as consumers is that behind the scenes - behind everything you buy ready made - is a tragic pile of plastic. That is why the focus of my business is teaching people how to make things themselves. There is always less waste on the back end when you buy ingredients and DIY. Let me reveal to you the tragedy of my waste count. I am using the term tragedy consciously - it is an avoidable, bad thing. Let's say I order 25 kgs of natural soda. I will repackage it by the kilo in reused jars and bags, so there's no harm there. But the giant double layer paper bag is shipped to me in a cardboard box lined with 2 plastic bags. For strength? Apparently not because these are the flimsy now banned in China ultra light bags. It's that way because of perception aesthetics alone. People feel that plastic is "clean" apparently, although to me it's filthy, and likely contaminated with lead and radioactive particles. So I reuse the flimsy bags to pack excess recycling because they are clear and I would never ever buy plastic recycling bags. And I politely ask my supplier to stop. And they tell me people like it. I am persistent. I am loved. I am worth tens of thousands of dollars to them every year. I got them to agree to refill their jugs at the warehouse. I have, by teaching monthly for them, increased their sales of glass and metal packaging exponentially. But *sigh* the double bagging persists. Another apparently innocent example: I order a case of metal bottles. they are 100% recyclable, 99% recycled aluminum. That saved 14,000 times the energy it would take to make new; so far so good. And they come packed in a corrugated cardboard box. Excellent. Without warning, the manufacturer took out the cardboard separators and replaced them with individual plastic bags inserted over the open tops of every bottle. 20 bottles = 20 bags. So I reuse the bags to package the dry bulk items people order - clays and minerals etc. I donate excess bags to Arts Junktion for educators. But alas, behind every metal bottle is a bag. And back at the warehouse of my supplier, the cases of bottles were in bigger boxes that were wrapped top to bottom on skids with plastic strapping and cling wrap. Interestingly enough, most of that 2% of plastic that is recycled in North America is that violently toxic cling wrap used to secure pallets of stuff. And I am saying all this because I want you to know that there is always a back end to what we are consuming. The supplier could be a freak like me who asks, cajoles, complains and embarasses her suppliers, but ultimately we need our whole society to put its collective foot down. Flimsy plastic bags that are used to keep products "clean" cost billions of dollars worldwide as they clog up machines in recycling and waste processing plants, all the way to clogging sewers and leading to flood damage. This is why China has banned the flimsy bags. Take that in. CHINA HAS BANNED WHAT WE CAN'T SEEM TO GET ENOUGH OF. And I know that waste management here in Toronto would love to get plastic bags out of the waste stream. Virtually every stoppage in the plants is due to bags stuck in the gears and thing-ys. People always say - what is the alternative? I say human beings have existed for tens of thousands of years eating, drinking, storing and trading. Look to what we used before plastic became the norm. It's not so long ago. Bring back the world of the jelly jar with the crimped metal lid, the crates insulated with saw dust, local manufacturing and the realization that if it came all the way from the other side of the planet it will rightfully cost more. Bring back the knowledge of how to make our own cleaning products and delicious foods! Okay, rant over. Complain persistently and lovingly. Thanks for listening.
Generally, Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Starbucks serves in ceramic mugs.
I find that I have to watch servers in any establishment, poised to pipe up if a disposable is about to be used. And I've walked out when they've screwed up. I figure that if I accept and pay for a screw up, the message won't get through. So if they have to get a manager to ring through avoid because I asked for no waste, it might have an impact.
Here, the oldest fancy coffee shop is The Second Cup. Each is independently owned. They use stainless steel things under the machine and pour these into whatever cup you want - your reusable does not have to fit under. Then the steam clean them! *gasp*. So when I order I proudly offer my reusable and say I want a " Fair Trade Decaf Soy Vanilla Latte" in this. Can you make it without wasting paper cups?" And then I watch them. I got a cardboard sleeve at a convention centre and said "I don't need this. My mug is insulated." and the barrista said "We write the orders on them. We have to." So I handed it back to her with my order crossed out.
So once a month I torment a local coffee seller, and the rest of the time I make my own. Not as good, of course. But I have my own stainless steel milk fluffer, so ALMOST and no waste!
I tell everyone when I teach: there is no safe plastic inside our bodies. A plasticizer modifies fats and oils. That's what it does. Inside our bodies, it modifies our fat. It's mechanical. All plasticizers are reasonably expected to mimick hormones, and disrupt our development , our reproduction and our mental and physical health.
1 year, 7 months ago on Are BPA-Free Plastic Products, Food Cans, & Register Receipts Safer than Those with BPA in Them?
Good point. We DO know ho to make well bound books without plastic. I imagine the printer simply eliminated some materials and steps rather than replace them with previous non-plastic versions of bindings. I use the word imagine strictly here, because I haven't even handled a REAL copy of the book yet!
1 year, 8 months ago on When a Plastic-Free Book is Covered in Plastic
I think it's absolutely miraculous that you prevented so much plastic and waste in the production of your book in the first place! So I know that your books shrink wrapped in plastic is part of your nightmare scenario, but it's neat to imagine all of your books that WEREN'T shrink wrapped because you insisted. My "NoPlastic.ca" supplier sends me most objects in plastic straight from the manufacturer, although he conscientiously packs in paper. It's going to take a bit for the world to stop thinking "it's only one little bit of plastic" and see the mountains composed of "one little bits" of plastic we are tossing. Bravo for pushing the envelope!]