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slowly becoming plastic free: a review

slowly becoming plastic free: a review

in an effort to create less waste, even though it may seem like a half a drop in the pacific ocean in the effect it’s having, i moved a few of my household items away from plastic. let’s take a look!

dishwasher soap: while i had always tried to get the powdered cascade that came in the box so i could recycle it, i decided to give dropps a try. the packaging is cardboard, and the shipping is carbon neutral. the soap itself is plant based with no dyes, chlorine, phosphates, etc.  plus, the soap comes in those little (eco-friendly) pods. so i just grab one, stick it in the soap holder, and push start. and, i have it on auto-order, so i never run it.

dropps referral code! ($15 off a $30 order)

laundry soap: i’ve been making my own laundry soap for a few years now. i get a giant box of borax, a giant box of baking soda, and a few bars of castille soap (which comes in paper packaging). all the packaging is cardboard, and i just mix it all up in a giant bowl, stick it in a container, and it lasts me many many months. plus, you don’t have to use much. the worst part of it is grating the bar soap, but if you have a food processor, that makes easy work of that.

toilet paper: i tried a couple different brands of eco-friendly TP. it comes packaged in paper and is sourced from bamboo, which is much easier on the environment. the first brand i tried was “who gives a crap,” and while their marketing campaign is on point, their TP is not. or it’s too pointy. it’s rough and disintegrates easily. i tried out “reel” instead, and it is much better than who gives a crap. not exactly the same level as charmin ultra soft cushy bum TP, but if you’re looking for an eco-alternative, try out reel. the next time i order from them, i might get a couple rolls of their paper towels. (while i try to use cloth napkins, sometimes you just need a paper towel, like for cat barf.)

shampoo and conditioner: for the past year, i’ve used bar soap for washing my hair. i’ve tried ethique, which is super expensive, and i’ve tried minnesota-based hibar, also expensive. but for shampoo, i found that JRLiggets works just as fine for a fraction of the cost. it comes wrapped in paper and it lasts a few months. as far as conditioner, that is more difficult to come by, so i did stick with ethique for my conditioner. ethique also comes wrapped in paper. the downside to ordering the bar soap is that it may come in plastic packaging. ethique is based in australia, so they partner with amazon to sell in the US, and despite me directly contacting the bezos henchmen about my preference for cardboard, they still send me plastic. one thing i’ve noticed about moving to bar soap: my hair is a LOT lighter and a lot more flyaway-ish. i’m sure other shampoos were weighing down my hair, and this is a lot healthier. but now i’ve got to take more time to calm down the insane hair waves. OOOH it looks like they also launched a line of concentrates. i’ll have to check that out.

body soap: i haven’t used a bottle of body wash in years, at this point. i buy all my soap in bar form and make sure they’re packaged in paper. and i do buy soap made for washing your body, so it’s not harsh.

mascara: yep, i’ve even jumped on the mascara bandwagon! i got some besame cake mascara, which lives in a little tin. i use the mascara brush from my last tube of mascara, and every morning i wet the cake and put it on. i think it also helps keep away bacteria that like to fester in mascara tubes. i know you’re supposed to replace your mascara every few month because of that, and so far, i’ve been using besame for a lot longer than that. so i’ll spend the extra money. plus mascara is the only makeup i use regularly. it’ll probably even out in the long run.

face soap: i had been a neutrogena user for DECADES. but i decided to make the leap and am now using shae moisturize african black soap, made for sensitive skin. not only has it worked well, it smells great and has lasted me a long time. the most annoying part of it is that i keep it in the shower, and i sort of make a mess in the mornings when i pull it out to use at the sink instead of in the shower. but that’s ok.

deodorant: so HERE’s the interesting one! moving to a non-plasticized deodorant ALSO involved moving to a more natural deodorant. which meant a minor mindshift as far as how much i was allowed to sweat and smell like myself. about a year ago, i bought the ethique brand of natural deodorant. it was just a bar – no applicator – so it was kind of a pain to put on, especially as i got to the end of the bar. but, let me tell you a tmi story about my shift to non-aluminum deodorant. for many many years, i’ve had a bump on my right armpit that would just not go away. i don’t know if it was a permanently ingrown hair, backed up pore, or what. but it was annoying and it wasn’t pleasant smelling if i messed with it too much. after about 6 months of using my natural deodorant, the smelly bump disappeared!! i read up, and now i try to do a clay mask on my pit area once every couple weeks. it helps pull out smells that the aluminum deodorant had really been able to suppress and keep under wraps. if i skip a day, i can definitely tell. OK done with tmi, and back to review. the second brand i tried was native with the cardboard applicator, which wasn’t that much less expensive, but i can get it at target, and it works well. i tried out the brand raw sugar, and the smell was really overwhelming (unfortunately it was sealed and i couldn’t smell it in the store). then, i saw that secret had come out with a cardboard, natural version too. so that’s up next to try. NOTE on these deodorants: the smells are natural, so they are limited and unlike other deodorants. i’ve become ok with coconut, vanilla, and citrus to an extent. there are other scents like lavender and rose, lilac and white tea, herbal musk, cucumber, mint, etc. i don’t react well to florals, and some of the scents are strong, but they may work for you!

what’s next??

  • like i said, i want to try out reel’s paper towels.
  • i also need to take a look at what to do about my actual dishsoap and handsoap. maybe that ethique concentrate will be a good plan for those two.
  • then, there’s the matter of anti-wrinkle lotion for my face. i’ve got to do some research, but i might just continue on with paula’s choice. they have a deal with terracycle to take care of empties in an environmentally happy way.
  • then there’s a whole other issue with food and plastic packaging. that’s where the real waste is. what a mess!

in OTHER more inspiring news, there is a new type of plastic that is infinitely recyclable. good news! but this would require people to make sure to actually recycle it. keep it out of the dumpster, peeps!

earth day: a pivot?

earth day: a pivot?

i think that if there were a perfect time of year for earth day to occur, a day for us to celebrate the earth (inasmuch as you could only limit it to one day), the middle of april might be it.

especially in the northern states, this is a time of year that yanks us in many directions. march may be cold; it may be warm; it’s always drab but slushy. may is almost always at least mostly warm and gloriously green. march makes us mad. may makes us happy. but april? april is hope.

i think that’s how i feel right now about our place in the earth at this moment in time.

this morning i got an email from my mom that outlines native philosophies toward humans’ relationship with the earth around us. while i’ve always hammered on “we are stewards of the earth,” i like kciye a lot better: harmony with the natural world.

it’s not enough to know that we a part of the world and all its habitants; we need to actively take steps to live in harmony with all creation. meaning, we can’t see ourselves as being greater than or above the land, water, animals. instead of keepers of the earth, we need to be keepers of an attitude that is in harmony, a part of a living whole.

i recently read “neither wolf nor dog” by kent nerburn, about a white man’s journey with a native elder. it was a wonderful book and i’d recommend it to everyone, but one thing he explained really made me take a moment to assess my biases.

one of the things kent didn’t understand is why native people kept broken stuff in their yards. why not clean it up? why not just clear it out? because native people use everything (like when killing buffalo), and this applies to inanimate objects as well. done driving a truck into the ground? well, the dog likes to use it as a bed, so it sits in the yard. just because the items they use has changed doesn’t mean their philosophy around use has changed.

this way of life, of course, means humans have a lot of work to do. we especially good at thinking we’re the best, and even within our own species we have issues with this.

but like i said, i’m feeling a little hopeful right now. maybe it’s because it’s spring. maybe it’s because i picked up my garden seeds last weekend. or maybe because there are some things moving in the right direction that i’ve been seeing lately.

  • there seems to be a lot more resources being pumping into electric vehicles.
  • as a nation, we’re back on some level of handling climate change.
  • i’ve been noticing more and more products promoting plastic-free packaging. (speaking of that, i have to review the items i’ve been using plastic-free.)
  • while i’m not partaking, the more people working from home means fewer cars on the roads spewing out CO2.
  • more and more solar farms are popping up around me (and i’ve got a share! woo!)

i know there is a lot more going on, but if we keep pushing corps to do their part, our individual actions, as minimal as they seem (and are), won’t be in vain. keep making a ruckus, people. keep that april-esque vibe alive.

just naw

just naw

i had started a blog post about scotus. i wanted to do some research on nominations and confirmations through our time as a country and how this one compares. and discuss the hypocritical nature of some of our senators.

but i just don’t want to. the idea of it is exhausting and emotionally taxing to me right now. instead i want to make one note on the way it looks like our scotus is going to go: this means fewer and fewer federal regulations* surrounding climate change, which means things will just get worse and worse before it gets better after the point of no return.

and what use is any other legislation if we have no planet on which to live? environment first, losers.

i was talking to megan yesterday about this. she asked how i don’t freak out about climate change and the rising temps and the weird weather we see and what might happen.

i try not to think about that, actually. there is a lot to think about instead of that, things that give me an ulcer on their own, much less how we’re going to handle a heating planet and biome changes and water shortages and mass migrations due to the coasts flooding (it’s already happening – the flooding).


what DOES give me hope about climate change is the resilience of the earth. we saw it when we were all on lockdown, and the air cleared up. what the pandemic showed me was that the earth does not. need. much. for her to get back on track. that gives me a lot of hope.

now, that does not downplay our role as it is. but it does show what human-made pollution does to the earth, and what happens when we curb it. so let’s think about how to make this better before it gets out of hand.

*you CANNOT tell me that climate is not something that is an obvious federal regulatory issue. it is a GLOBAL regulatory issue. water and air and our climate are something that affect everyone on this planet, and despite what jeff bezos would have you believe about going to stupid mars, we’re much better off fixing the planet we live on than terraforming another planet (and we all know how that can go wrong after seeing star trek movies). it takes everyone to fix this, and unfortunately, it’s going to have to affect a lot of people personally before they get on board.


in other news, my facebook fast is still in place. i’m looking at twitter more, of course, and checking out reddit more. i guess the only good thing about not being on facebook is i can hold the false idea that the people i know personally aren’t making stupid comments.

in related news, i just learned that a lady i regularly exchange waves with while out on my run has a trump flag in her front yard -_-

i’ll be so glad when this dumb election is over and can imagine there aren’t any DT supporters in my neighborhood.

a discouraging plastic update

a discouraging plastic update

npr came out with a report the other day about how plastic recycling is basically a lie. i mean, we sort of knew that already, right? but now we learn that the plastic conglomerates knew this in the EIGHTIES when they launched a very large ad campaign to promote plastic recycling because the business was in the tank. it was meant for just bottles, but soon the recycling symbol showed up on all plastic, even when it WASN’T RECYCLABLE. plus, plastic recycling is not like aluminum or metal or glass, where it is infinitely recyclable into the same product; it degrades each time.

Thanks, NPR!

add into that that recycling plastic costs more than making new plastic products, and it’s no wonder that the business model is pushing for more new plastic. that doesn’t break down. and sticks around forever. in a convenience-based society where we like everything as easy as possible. until we’re living in a society that’s basically a trash dump. then what?

i think the biggest thing we need to push for is to put pressure on the manufacturers to create packaging that is not reliant on plastic. in the npr aritcle, then mention that there’s a brand new, shiny plastic-making plant being built. instead of that, why not build a shiny plastic recycling center? or get together a think-tank to figure out how to solve our plastic crisis? maybe it’s hemp-based or bamboo based, both of which are quick growing and take little water to produce compared to trees. a petroelum-based system of commerce is just not working out well, as we’re seeing and living.

the unfortunate thing about this is the petro billionaires have the best lobbyists and the most money to spend on legislation. and they get a lot of their money from government subsidies (see: corporate welfare, hardly a capitalistic system). (meanwhile the average american would go bankrupt from a hospital stay, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)

so what can we do? put pressure on the companies that you know are plastic heavy, and these are the big companies, so many people would need to do this. we know what happens when the public sentiment shifts a certain way, as we’ve seen with organic, more natural food stuffs. if the public can start to push for less plastic, then the big guys will adjust to get their dollars.

slowly, i’m moving toward less plastic packaging in my life. here are the things that i’ve permanently changed from plastic bottles/packaging to either making myself or cardboard packaging:

  • dishwasher soap (dropps)
  • laundry soap (homemade)
  • shampoo and conditioner (bar soap)
  • body wash (bar soap)
  • toilet paper (all paper – no plastic)
  • deodorant (bar based with a simple paper packaging around it, from ethique)

in the next round of necessities purchasing, i plan on changing out my facial soap (to shea butter charcoal bar soap) and checking out what my options are for mascara (besame). i’m having trouble with moisturizer for my face, especially since i want some anti-wrinkle stuff. i have to do some research for the next round.

there’s still a lot of plastic in my life, especially when it comes to groceries. i’m not perfect when it comes to plastic; i like my convenience just as much as the next person. but i think it’s good to work at it. i’d rather have a nice planet to live on than a single-serving package of grapes.

ten tips to start saving the earth (you won’t believe #9!)

ten tips to start saving the earth (you won’t believe #9!)

it all starts little! if everyone does one little thing, the collective effort makes a difference. isn’t this something that everyone can agree with?

(on the flip side, if everyone thinks “well everyone else is doing it so i don’t have to,” then we’ve accomplished nothing.)

so what are we starting little on these days, besides social distancing and wearing a mask to the store and making a crapton of bread and doing 40 puzzles a day (well, that’s kind of big stuff, actually)?

we’re starting with things we can do to help the planet. we’ve seen this past month what collective effort can DO. the air clears up. the pollution levels lower. the water gets clear.

so what can we do on a personal level to start the collective effort?

  1. recycle. ooh big surprise. i know i’ve talked about varying levels of recycling, so you know that plastic is kind of a crapshoot, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be recycling your aluminum, glass, and tin. they recycle endlessly and you get money for aluminum cans, to boot. just do it. that means you.
  2. bring your reusable bag. yep, it’s hard. if you forget it, and you carried your items up to the register without a cart or basket, you can carry them to your car without a bag. if you need a bag, tell them to pack as much as possible into the bags. paper an option? take it. paper’s better on the earth than plastic. and we can plant more trees and recycle the paper. (i find it ironic that we move to plastic because we wanted to “save the trees”.)
  3. buy used. instead of buying something brand new, try to find a used option. now, there are exceptions to this, of course: underwear, beds, old and busted running shoes. but people give away perfectly nice sheet sets, throw pillows, pairs of jeans or work clothes because they’re one season old, jackets, books, etc. just visit your local goodwill or other used item outlet! now, sometimes craigslist or FBmarketplace is a crapshoot, but i’ve had relatively good luck. big ticket items i’ve purchased that have been perfectly wonderful? a canon lens. a lawn mower. freezer. now i’m looking for a riding lawn mower.
  4. reduce your plastic. this one is HUGE. HUGE. plastic use is so ubiquitous right now, and like i said before, recycling plastic is awful. maybe it costs a bit more to get the steel version of something or it takes a little more work or it’s just different to use soap that doesn’t come from a plastic bottle, but 90% of the time, the quality is better and the environmental costs aren’t as steep.
  5. grow some food. not only does growing your own food create less bad environmental byproducts like shipping pollution, farm tillage/topsoil depletion, and pesticide and fertilizer runoff, but it’s therapeutic, better tasting, and immensely satisfying. even if you throw a tomato plant in a pot and help it grow on your patio, you’re helping a little bit. plus, you may end up with enough pickles to last you 5 years. (personal problem.)
  6. compost. or try to. composting can be difficult if you don’t have the space, and if you don’t have space, you need some special equipment and you need to be mindful of your composting. even if you do have space, you still need to be mindful. i’m not that mindful of my compost pile, but it’s still there. i turn it only a couple times during the summer, which is awful, and i take a break during the winter because it’s out behind the house and i’m lazy. but i’m hoping to take some compost this spring and spread it out on my garden to till it in.
  7. plant. i recently read that a lot of our emissions problems could be overcome by just planting more trees. stop clearcutting forests. stop cutting down trees when building new neighborhoods and build around them. start planting everywhere. don’t want to commit to a tree? just plant a flowerbox or some perennials in your yard. more green stuff to take in the CO2 is good. and they look nice, to boot.
  8. drive efficiently. i’m only including this one because we are just now seeing the effects of fewer cars on the road. and while i know those of us in flyover country (or as i like to call it, most of the country) can’t not use cars as transportation, we CAN choose to drive more fuel efficient cars. and i’m hoping that the stay home orders really put into perspective what could happen if we put many more electric cars on the roads. for 90% of my use, an electric car would be perfectly fine. when it’s time to replace my nissan, i may look at an electric car.
  9. try. i am not a 100% follower of every one of these rules (well, except maybe recycling aluminum and glass). all you can do is try your best and hope that others are also trying their best. i see these “zero waste” people who are pretty much living as minimally as possible and off the grid, and while i would love to attain that sort of lifestyle, i know that my mindset is not there right now.
  10. realize. effect. the thing that i keep coming back to is that the root of everything we view as current problems: socioeconomic, health, political, power, etc. they are moot if there is no planet habitable to live on. earth don’t care if we nuke ourselves. earth don’t care if we wipe out coastal cities. earth don’t care if the ozone layer depletes (actually, the hole is now completely shut! see what can happen if we make change?). cuz you know what? earth wins every time, which has become abundantly clear these past couple months. so why not work with the earth and with other people than against? make yourself a tidy home.
happy 50th earth day

happy 50th earth day

happy 50th birthday, earth day! for your big day, we got you a pandemic.

i just read something that reminded me about how radical earth day was when it was first celebrated. there were no air quality and pollution controls, corporations were dumping waste directly into rivers and other bodies of water, and people in general had no idea how awful the water and air quality were. after regulations* were put in place, we became accustomed to the guidelines for clean air and water, and now earth day is an afterthought to most people. something we don’t think about much, because why bother?

(*let’s talk about federal air and water regulations for a moment. you may scream states’ rights and capitalism and free market. i argue that the federal government ABSOLUTELY has authority to place regulations, and strict ones at that, on air and water quality. in fact, i would argue that an organization such as the UN should be the one making worldwide regulations. why? because air and water do not know state or federal lines. we can’t pull over a water molecule for crossing into canada from the US. what we do in MN as far as crop and field work greatly affects crabbing in louisiana. we see air quality plummet when there are wildfires in alberta. water knows no bounds. air knows no bounds. get a global agency in charge of regulating them.)

and here we are 50 years later with a large chunk of the population at home because of a global health disaster, and guess what happened?

the earth shows us just how resilient and wonderful and awesome she is. i think it’s an eye-opening experience that we should be flabbergasted by to know that the earth will win, no matter what we humans end up doing.

china’s air pollution cleared up.

(NO2 is nitrogen dioxide. it’s released when fossil fuels are burned at high temps, mostly for fertilizer production. inhalation can result in heart failure.)

beijing looks pretty clear.

You can see los angeles.

people in india can actually see the himalayan mountain range from more than 100 miles away. for the first time in 30+ years!

wildlife are returning to their natural habitats

in nairobi, they’re seeing mount kenya.

the water in venice is the clearest it’s been in years, and the dolphins have returned to saridinia (not in venice – that was fake news).

stanford has calculated that the reduction in air pollution could help save the lives of 77,000 residents. so while we hunkered down avoid death by covid, we may have also inadvertently avoided death by air pollution.

now, all these environmental silver linings are not without their inconvenience on the human population, but when it comes to the rest of the earth and species we share the planet with, i’d say that this is something we need to pay attention to. we are at a turning point as it is with climate change, and i hope that by getting an extraordinary sneak-peak what our surroundings could look like ALL THE TIME if we put in some effort with reducing air pollution, we may actually make a difference after coming out of our houses and covid-funk. the timeliness of covid with our climate precipice could not have been more perfect.

because if there’s one good that comes out of this pandemic, i hope it’s opening our eyes to what could be, whether in our outdoor surroundings, our work lives, our family. so happy birthday, earth day. like i always say, every day is earth day.


you recycle. now what?

you recycle. now what?

you’re a good steward of the earth: you recycle what you can and send it on its way when the truck comes round to pick it up. but then what happens?

well, first, let’s look at what the recycling center actually takes versus what is marked as recyclable content, and what those numbers actually mean.

aluminum, glass, tin, and paper all get recycled. there’s nothing weird about them, unless there is plastic involved (like your to-go paper cups for hot beverages, cardboard milk containers, any paper food container in the refrigerated or frozen section; they are not recyclable, sad enough).

as for plastic, let’s have a look.

1: polyethylene terephthalate. this is your common drink bottles and non-film/bagged food packaging. this is generally recycled into bottles and poly fibers. this is the easiest to recycle!

2: high density polyethylene. this is the heavier duty bottles, like laundry soap bottles, shampoo bottles, etc. this is also easily recycled.

3: polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. this is what toys, piping, furniture, etc. is all made of. it’s hard to recycle and turns out PVC is a huge environmental and health threat! 33 million tons are produced every year and it keeps going up. it’s made from oil and chlorine, both of which aren’t necessarily green, and PVC is not easily recyclable because heavy metals are added to it, like lead and cadmium. less than 1% of PVC is recycled, and the dang things aren’t biodegradable at all. plus, when you want some flexibility, phthalates are added to it, which may cause cancer and/or kidney and reproductive damage. (think about how many plastic toys go into kids’ mouths.) ps: this really shouldn’t even have a recycle triangle on it. just a skull and crossbones with a 3 next to it.

(i think i’ll propose this to the EPA.)

4: low-density polyethylene. this is your sandwich bags, grocery bags that float in the wind and catch on trees, plastic wrapping. these can generally be recycled into more of the same, just slightly degraded.

5: polypropylene. this is your clothes. yep, your tri-blend tshirts or your poly running shorts are just plastic. also, some bottles, tubs, and the plasticky ropes. these can be recycled into fibers.

6: polystyrene. styrofoam! this is difficult to recycle because it’s lightweight so not a lot to reclaim (the transport of styrofoam to recycle it would probably cause more pollution). it can be reused, though! it’s unfortunate that so many to-go containers are made from styrofoam.

your recycling company probably very easily takes 1 & 2 plastics to recycle. there are several 4 places to recycle that are  in places of business – you see the bins when you walk into some grocery stores or home depot or some place (when i lived in st. charles, they took plastic bags in the single-sort curbside bin). everything else on the plastic side? a pain in the butt.

farewell, recycle bin! off to never-never land where i don’t have to think about you again!

but wait! let’s see what happens.

according to the minnesota pollution agency, here’s what happens to your recyclables:

  • paper and cardboard: half of the paper recycled in MN goes to st. paul, where it’s made into liner board. liberty paper in becker recycles cardboard boxes into new paper. and a duluth company uses recycled paper fiber to make new educational books and business documents. how wholesome! make sure to recycle your paper! (but also make sure that there is no cross-contamination from your bottle of oil you just threw in the bin. wash your oil bottle so it doesn’t make your comingled items a mess!)
  • plastic bottles (1 & 2): they get chipped, shredded, and cleaned and then sent to a manufacturer. (hmm….. more to this, methinks.) so your #1 plastic gets sent to rogers where it’s made into food and consumer packaging. your #2 bottles get made into composite decking, lawn and garden furniture, and plastic lumber (all #3 pvc plastic, i do believe). so, something that has stuck with me since my hippie environmental class during a J-term at st. ben’s is that plastic is not a pure recyclable. it always has to get made into something a little worse, unlike aluminum cans or glass bottles, which can be recycled over and over into aluminum cans or glass bottles. and remember, #3 plastic – PVC – is awful and can never break down. it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that fish and birds and even humans eat and can’t digest.
  • cars, cans, appliances: aluminum is smelted and turned into ingots for a bunch of stuff like new cans, cars, and signs. aluminum is a very nice recyclable, and it’s lightweight. i’m not sure why more companies don’t use aluminum packaging.
  • glass: guess what! more glass. over the past 20 years, i’ve noticed more and more food manufacturers moving to plastic over glass (mayonnaise jars, peanut butter jars, etc.). glass is heavy, so i get that they want to save money on transport, but is it worth the tradeoff? maybe we need to move to the old model of returning your pop bottles to the grocery store to get a deposit back.

(i have fond memories of glass bottle returns at the red owl in austin!)

a few months ago china said “hey, we’re done taking your recyclables.” which got me wondering – are we REALLY recycling our stuff? or are we sending our garbage to china, where it sits in another landfill? well, actually, china said “hey no thanks; we don’t want your dirty recyclables” because they were all contaminated.

there’s a documentary about china and our garbage that i want to watch called “plastic china.” people pick through huge amounts of waste coming from us and europe, shredding and melting plastic they can find and then burning the rest into the open air. ugh. it’s on amazon prime, so i’m planning on watching that VERY soon.

plastic recyclable prices have plummeted. it’s not even worth recycling. and they can barely give away paper recyclables. what’s going on? can’t we take that paper and cardboard and create better packaging for mailers, instead of those awful plastic bubble wrap things that have to go in the trash? so now, countries have these recyclables piling up because china isn’t taking them – but was it even worth it then? if they were just burning it anyway?

what’s a person to do? of all the plastic produced ever, only 9% has been recycled. at this moment in time, we’re sitting about about 20% recycled each year. this is not good news. plastic is made from oil, which is a finite product. (and if you really are concerned about gas prices and oil prices, maybe you should be taking a good hard look at HOW MUCH plastic is sitting on the shelves at your local grocery store. It’s mind boggling. and the food giants seem to keep converting more and more packaging to … plastic.)

and the recycling process itself isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly, when it DOES happen. it needs to be shipped, it needs to be sorted, it needs to be washed, it needs to be chopped up, it needs to be melted, and then it needs to be manufactured into something else. that process isn’t carbon-free these days.

BUT, that all needs to happen with glass and aluminum/metal, too, doesn’t it? you bet. extracting the raw material for aluminum is not very kind to the earth. glass is pretty easy to make but has a heavier footprint for transport (and they break). but think about it though: glass, aluminum, and metal are all recyclable back into their original forms; it could be an endless process once one is made. plastic is not able to go back it its original form; it’s the most difficult to recycle AND it’s the least recycled product.

let me insert here that i KNOW plastic has a place, especially in health care [even though we somehow lived without it for a while] and i KNOW that we won’t get rid of it overnight. but let’s try to figure this out – no one wants to live in a dump. no one can say they think landfills full of garbage, and animals eating plastic, and plastic floating around in the ocean, and people picking through our waste in a burning dump are good things.

so what can be done?

  1. contact big offenders: food companies are huge single-use plastic offenders. i signed this petition. you should too. or find a different petition to sign if you have a beef with greenpeace. i’m also going to work on contacting the big ones (coke, pepsi, nestle, etc.) directly, too.
  2. buy food items that don’t come in plastic. i’m awful at this because it’s incredibly difficult. buy in bulk using your own containers or visit a farmers market and refuse the bag. even if you go to the food co-op, if you don’t buy in bulk, chances are the item is going to come in plastic. but, sometimes there are choices on the shelf. if you see a glass or tin or aluminum option, buy that instead. and then clean it and RECYCLE IT!
  3. wash out your recyclables. if you’re lucky to have a comingled bin, food residue from a bottle drips onto your cardboard or paper and renders it useless. this is also the reason that some recycling centers won’t take pizza boxes (think about the grease stains on the cardboard).  i keep a paper bag next to my garbage can to put all my paper in so it’s not floating around in the comingleds to get contaminated. also, i’m going to do better with washing out my bottles, cans, jars, etc.
  4. push amazon to continue to use cardboard and paper packaging vs. plastic. we get a lot of items in the good ol’ cardboard amazon box, but sometimes the packaging inside is plastic bubble wrap. contact them and tell them you want them to use paper-only packing.
  5. maybe it’s time to check your convenience. i like convenience. you like convenience. the less work people have to do, the happier we are. i get it. but maybe you don’t need to have a stockpile of styrofoam plates in the cupboard because you don’t want to do dishes. just a thought.
  6. speaking of styrofoam, when you get a to-go box, ask the restaurant if they’d consider moving to non-styrofoam. or bring your own container. (i know; that whole convenience factor.)
  7. invest in reusables. instead of taking the plastic set of silverware, keep a set with you to reuse. try out some silicon bag-like containers. get some beeswax compostable wrap instead of plastic wrap. wash out your plastic baggies to use again. there are options.
  8. and what we’ve all been waiting for – remember your reusable bags that you keep leaving in the backseat when you go to the grocery store!!!! UGH. 


PVC plastic’s environmental impact

Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

Recycling plastics – what the numbers mean + cheat sheet

two topics for today

two topics for today

i have two topics to touch on today! (alliteration for the win.)

first topic: environmental junk

one of my goals for the year was to be a little more conscientious when it came to the environment, and i’m hoping i’ve already sort of started down the path. i still buy a lot of plastic, but i do recycle it. (on a related note, one of the things i want to research in the very near future is what exactly happens with our recycling?) but, the first two items in the three Rs are reduce and reuse, so i think it’s time to do that. i am going to try to buy more bulk items, items in better-recyclable or reusable packaging (aka NOT plastic), or buy from companies that are more eco-conscious.

today i ordered some dishwasher pods from dropps (don’t worry – both environmentally and septic safe!). the pod itself is made from polyvinyl alcohol which film dissolves in the washer and enters the water stream as micro-organisms (including bacteria, yeasts, and fungi) that commonly exist in water treatment plants are capable of breaking down polyvinyl alcohol to water and carbon dioxide. they’ve got quite a mission. so i’m hoping they work well – a 4 months’ supply was $17.

as i was thinking about what else i could do, i realized there are some things that i just. won’t. compromise. like my running gear. i’m always going to through a couple pairs of shoes a year and they will always be asics. i will buy headbands and wear shorts that are comfortable (though two of my pair are from tasc, which is bamboo fabric); i will buy single-use energy gel packs that are pretty wasteful; my socks and underwear will always be some sort of poly blend.*

which brings me to point two! i start half marathon training in a couple weeks, and the plan i’m trying out this year really ramps up the mileage compared to my last four halfs. i know in the past i’ve sort of blogged about training and all that, but i’m wondering if my readers would like to see more in depth running posts – maybe even some video? i could be one of those annoying runner youtubers, but only on my blog, and, unlike the other vloggers, i won’t be racing at unattainable speeds and looking like a graceful gazelle on camera. instead, i’ll be plugging along at 5 mph and gallumping over the pavement like a super sweaty rhino on a mission. i could review the stuff i wear and use. maybe someone will pay me to wear their stuff HAHAHAHA.

here’s a link to the video. can confirm: look like a gallumping sweaty rhino. (liz looks like a graceful gazelle.)

*check out my awesome segue

not the barbie we want

not the barbie we want

let’s chat about the australian bushfires because it seems to be underplayed a lot. the current fires are bigger than both the california fires of a couple years ago and the amazon fires of last year.

so bushfire season is a relatively regular event in australia, and since 1851, they’ve accounted for 800 people dying and millions of animals.  the current fires are in southeast australia, where bushfire season stretches from december to march. yes, we’ve just begun.

so far, the fires have burned about 24,000 square miles. 2500 buildings have been destroyed, 1300 homes, and 25 people have died (6 still missing). half a billion animals have been impacted so far.

how did this start? in early november, a catastrophic fire danger was declared (this level was just introduced in 2009 – this was the first time using it). a total fire ban was put in place for seven regions, including sydney. remember: it’s mid-summer down there, and new south wales is reaching temperatures upwards of 110º and HIGHER. the heat, combined with recent drought made the area one big piece of kindling for any sort of arsonists, despite the fire ban. (a few people have been charged with arson).

in addition to the fires causing havoc on the area they’re burning, pushing people out of homes, and causing species to possibly go extinct, the fires are also billowing 250 million tonnes of CO2 into the air (as of jan. 2). new zealand, 1000 miles away, is getting smoke effects. glaciers in new zealand got a brown tint due to the smoke. two of the world’s worst air pollution days were during these fires. usually, new forest regrowth would absorb any CO2, but this amount would take decades, and experts aren’t even sure if forests are able to fully regrow due to the drought that’s been going on.

the government has gotten some severe pushback – the PM was in hawaii while the fires were happening and some firefighters died, and new south wales cut funding on fire services. 100,000 residents have been evacuated, and tourists were told to get out – access and supply routes could be cut off by fire. people are taking shelter and evacuating to beaches in areas where it is too late to leave. in victoria, people are evacuating to navy ships to sail toward melbourne. electricity and communications are down in several small towns along the coast.

today it rained in a couple locations, so that’s good news, but temps are set to rise later in the week. there are also two huge fires that could meet and create some sort of megablaze.


this is the part where i talk about climate change. about how it means extreme weather (while we’re getting a polar vortex in november, australia’s seeing record heat and super-drought conditions). about how all this smoke in the air is not good for anyone. about how extinct species is not cool. (well, unless it’s a jumping spider that can kill you with a look, like they have in australia.)

but you know all this.

so here’s how you can help:

NSW Rural Fire Service

Queensland Fire Service

Red Cross Disaster

WIRES Wildlife Rescue

i donated to WIRES just now. $1 AUD is about 70¢ USD.


2020 not impressed so far!

2020 not impressed so far!

happy…?…. new year!

so far 2020 has not impressed.

  1. australia’s burning. excellent.
  2. a top iranian military leader was killed in a US airstrike. i haven’t done a ton of research, so i don’t know if it was intentional or accidental that this specific dude died, but DT may have inadvertently started WWIII. excellent.
  3. as a result, twitter’s atwit about the FAFSA and its selective service question and the military’s recruiting efforts (poor are usually targeted to become national guard members, etc to help pay for college).  excellent.
  4. north korea has announced it’s no longer under a nuclear weapons testing moratorium. excellent.
  5. i have had a cold for the extent of 2020. excellent.

some good things!

  1. oregon banned single-use plastic bags starting with the new year. excellent!
  2. i bought my HARRY POTTER WORLD tix for march last night. excellent!
  3. caribou brought back the cabin bar (butterscotchish) flavor. excellent!

i wanted to start off my blogging with some good news about how i went to the food co-op and brought my reusables to reduce the plastic in the world, but instead i bring you this list and the knowledge that i went to costco last night and bought a bunch of stuff in plastic. *smh*

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