Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's November

I'm glad it's November because October didn't go so well for me.

Mid-month, I went on a week-long business trip that made it pretty tough to remain plastic-free. I was working conventions, and all the free lunches came in plastic boxes. And of course, the food inside the boxes was wrapped in plastic, too. It was a bad scene, and for some reason my whole travel experience, which included lots of time in airports eating stale, plastic-packaged salads, sucked the life out of me and my plastic-free experiment for the rest of the month.

Which led to something interesting—I became a normal person for a while and realized how much plastic I used to throw away.

As you might expect, it really shocked me. I used plastic silverware, and water bottles, and mini plastic butter packages. I bought bread in plastic bags, and ate fortune cookies from those little plastic wrappers, and even got a slice of pizza in a styrofoam clamshell. I used tons of plastic.

And it made me feel horrible. This whole month was like a giant guilt fest for me. Looking back, though, I think it's also given me a renewed belief that what I'm doing is a good thing. I don't want to be like I used to be.

So I'm glad it's November. It's a new month and a brand new chance to be plastic-free.


badhuman said...

I have to travel about 10 days a month in my new and it's definitely a challenge to stay green but since I do it so often its becoming easier. I still can't be as green as I'd like because cooking is out of the question. I'm surprised a lot of your conferences involved plastic. I've found the conference food to be relatively plastic free. Using real dishes, silverware, coffee cups, nothing wrapped in plastic but that may be because my job and thus the conferences/shows I attend aim to be a little more green.

Lori said...

good to hear that you're back on your plastic-free journey! You're an inspiration to me and lots of other people. High five!

ChicChick said...

It's funny, isn't it, how we get so used to things that once seemed like such a chore? I was just thinking about this as I was putting away some recycling. I used to HATE recycling and thought it was so tedious and time consuming. Now I do it without a thought! Glad to see you are back, I enjoy your blog immensely.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Glad to hear from you. I was getting a little worried and was actually planning to email you tonight and see how you were doing. Jump back on the horse and start riding again. Forget guilt. It doesn't help.



just Gai said...

A couple of weeks ago I undertook a Zero Waste Challenge and reduced my week's waste to 5g. Since then cicumstances have forced me to return to my normal habits and you're right - I am shocked by how much plastic I used to use. Now that my life has settled down again I am looking forward to eliminating the plastic from my diet.

A Slice of the Pie said...

Please don't feel guilty. In the world we live in is it really feasible to keep it up all the time?

I don't think we should beat ourselves up about things we can't control. You have an amazing headstart on the rest of the country, and every little thing you do is really huge. Thanks for leading the way.

xxxicana said...

I had to travel, too, and it IS very difficult to do so in a green way. Like you I was amazed at how much plastic is used in food service -- it is grotesque.

Love your blog -- I've linked you to mine.

Meghon said...

Having to relive the way you use to be was probably a good thing, not to our earth but to yourself. By reliving this you now know exactly what you were doing befor going plastic free. Having to do this every once in a blue moon is better than doing it everyday of your life. I think what your doing is good, however realistically we know that not everyone in the world can or will go to the extremes.

The Minimalist said...

I was shocked at how much plastic I used on a trip to Vegas last spring. It was just plain everywhere! And yes, food service is the worst. As consumers we need to keep letting them know they need to work toward more sustainable practices! Don't be depressed.. You're a great role model for me and many others!

Kim said...

HI There,

I am a manufacturer of eco-friendly arts and crafts toys and love your blog! Would you be interested in either doing a review on our toys or perhaps linking up? Thanks for your consideration!

Toad734 said...

So whats the big deal about being plastic free? I mean, why not metal or glass free? Whats the difference? Does your car and bike have no plastic?

Ok, so I admit that I am a plastics recycler so I obviously have a bias.

Heres the deal though:

Plastic lasts almost as long as glass and almost as long as metal when thrown into a land fill.

Plastic, such as a ziplock bag or tupperwear, keeps food fresh so we don't use so many more resources having to produce food, cutting down trees to produce that food, creating the methane which both comes from agriculture and comes from decomposing food in a land fill, and less fuel is burned by farm equipment and by trucks who bring us the food etc.

Almost all, beside some layered plastic can be and is recycled.

We have a facility which takes post consumer and post industrial PET bottles and turn them into clean regring and then into an FDA pellet that is used to make more bottles or to make take out trays, or what ever anyone wants to make out of PET. Almost every piece of PET (polyesther) clothing you wear when you work out came from PET bottles which can be recycled. Almost all carpet is made from recycled coke bottles. I believe Shaw, the carpet makers, buy and use up to 40 truckloads a day of PET bottles.

Shopping/grocery bags can also be reused and or recycled. My wine guy and the pet store i go to gives me their products in bags they kept from the grocery store and then I use them to pick up dog shit. I could choose to recycle them but how many paper bags can be used 2-3 times and still be recycled?

I buy the plastics off of scrap computers, the LLDPE stretch film used by warehouses, grocery bag film, HDPE detergent bottles, HDPE milk jugs. THe jugs usually end up in plastic lumber, which is green becuase it doesn't have to be painted or replaced every year or ends up as truck bed liners, pallets or more bottles.

Nestle water for instance is now light weighting their water bottles so that they use 1/3 less plastic than before and still perform the same function and again, that plastic bottle can not only be reused again, washed and reused as your workout water, which you can't do with aluminum or paper, and then can be recycled again and again.

I can't even begin to imagine how many well paying jobs both the plastics and plastic recycling industry creates so there is that.

In other words, when you stop using plastics you will probalby be using something that cannot be recycled, lasts just as long in a land fill, you put me out of a job, waste food which there already isn't enough to go around the world. etc.

And really, if you looked at the space it takes to store all of our trash, its not that much room at all. I mean, plastic in a landfill isn't making the earth warmer, it isn't releasing C02 into the atmosphere, it isn't poisoning the water table, it isn't producing methane which is also a greenhouse gas, it isn't tearing down trees that absorb that CO2. Our global environmental problems are greenhouse gases, and overpopulation vs. food and water supply. Those two things are going to kill off man kind long before a Styrene cup in a landfill.

That isn't to say you should use plastic cups and silverware every day but when you don't, you still use valuable water and antibacterial detergents which destroy marine habitats to wash your dishes or perhaps all the above plus the coal/CO2 powered electricity to run your dishwasher.

There are a thousand reasons not to buy deoderant or wash your hair 2 times a day but the plastic waste they generate is probably at the bottom of the list as the heavy metals in deoderant are going to kill you faster than the milk jug in a landfill.