Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Blog Contest

Today's my birthday, which means I need something to stop my brain from wandering towards thoughts of aging and mortality and other such delightful things.

Lucky for you, the best distraction seems to be another blog contest!

The prize: An assortment of ACME grocery bags ($50 value), sponsored by Reusablebags.com.

How to Enter - Just submit a comment that shares one of the following:
  • One new thing you plan to do to cut your plastic use (don't worry if you submit a repeat).
  • An idea on what we can do on a larger scale to cut packaging waste, be it through better packaging methods, better urban planning, etc.
  • Your favorite product on the Reusablebags.com website and what you like about it (an obvious thanks for their sponsorship)
To decide the winner, I'll do a random drawing from all those who enter.

The entry deadline will be April 6, and I'll post the winner the following day.

Good luck everyone!

p.s. I was just joking about the thoughts of mortality thing...sort of.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why the West Coast Is Magical and More Talk About Bulk Bins

The roar of an endless blue ocean, the romance of vineyards and fine wine, the beauty of mountains so large they seem to touch the heavens.

Ahhhhhh, the West Coast.

There are so many reasons to love it, but in my opinion, one of the most endearing things about that far away land is how so many grocery stores there sell food from bulk bins.

Being from the Chicago, I never knew the wonders of West Coast grocery stores until a few months ago when I took my covered wagon to Oregon to visit to my oldest sister.

There, I experienced an awe-inspiring sight, which I shall relate to you through the following pictures:

























































You have to agree, it's pretty impressive. At this particular store, there were aisles and aisles of bulk bins full of anything from pasta and cereal to honey and sesame oil. It was amazing.

And it wasn't just the froofy markets that had bulk items. Even Safeway stores had them.

Reflecting on what I learned while I was in Oregon, I feel inspired to write letters to my local grocery stores again to request that they install bulk bins. Here's the letter I wrote last time.

Maybe if enough people write letters, more stores will start offering bulk bins.

After all, why should the people on the West Coast have better grocery stores than us?!?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Composting Success Has Me Shouting "I Made Earth!"

It wasn't easy, and it took me an entire year, but I did it. I made dirt!

I realize that making dirt doesn't sound that exciting, but consider this: I made it by composting my garbage, specifically old fruit and vegetable scraps and newspaper.

If this still doesn't sound amazing, please also consider that I live in the middle of Chicago, where composting is not so common and, one might argue, also quite difficult.

Here's the thing. Because of rodent problems in the city, you only have two composting options:
  • A worm bin - Will compost your waste very fast, but requires love and attention and a willingness to have worms in your house
  • A fully-enclosed compost bin or tumbler - Requires exact proportions of different materials to avoid odors and takes a long time, most likely because the batches are too small and the compost isn't getting enough air
I used a compost tumbler and found that it took a loooong time (a year) and smelled a bit unsavory (not horrible, but not great). Now, if done exactly right, a compost tumbler won't generate any bad odors and can be fast-working, but I'm going to defend myself and say that that's not so easy to do.

So here's the point of my story:

If you live in the suburbs or in a small town, you don't need an enclosed bin to prevent rodents. You can basically throw all of your organic waste into a pile and wait for it to turn into dirt.

Don't believe me? Here are some resources to learn more:

Composting Information from the EPA
Composting for the Homeowner, from the University of Illinois
Compost Guide - Composting Fundamentals

p.s. I know there are a lot of people in the suburbs who already compost. Kudos to you! Maybe you can train your neighbors?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Handmade Crafts

With all the adorable handmade crafts available on the internet these days, I don't understand why I'm not drowning in sassy earrings.

I also don't understand why my walls are not covered in screenprints dreamed up by local artists or why my couch isn't bedecked with funky, mind-altering pillows.

To address, and hopefully remedy, seriously confounding realities like these, I signed the Buy Handmade Pledge today and vowed to "buy handmade for myself and my loved ones, and to ask others to do the same."

I plan to buy handmade goods to support:
  • Local artists
  • Small-scale and local production of goods
  • Availability of original and interesting wares
  • The production of more environmentally friendly products, especially those that recycle and make the old new again
As I set out to buy more handmade goods, here are stores I'll be cruising:
And here are some blogs and such:
Well, I guess it's time to go shopping! Take the Buy Handmade Pledge today!

p.s. I have to admit that I don't make enough money to buy everything handmade, but I'm looking forward to buying at least a few pairs of sassy earrings and maybe even a funky pillow. My neck always hurts when I lay on the couch...

Image courtesy of Matte Stephens. Buy this print or one of his many others on Etsy.com.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Milwaukee, WI

Cheers to my Wisconsin brothers and sisters!

Life Less Plastic recently got a mention in a free Milwaukee circular, the Bay View Compass.

The article, Recalling Concerns Over Safe Food, Products, focuses on one woman's struggle as she learns about phthalates and the harm they might be doing to her child.

As she hears more about plastics, she finds easy questions becoming dilemmas: What cup should I give my toddler? What bowl should I use?

After buying a set of beautiful wooden bowls during a trip through Amish country, the author finds she's solved at least one problem.

She's concludes that now she's "searching for safer pots and pans and trying not to worry."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Being Positive Works Better

Every now and then, I get negative comments on my posts. I always try to publish them because I think it's important to allow everyone to voice their opinion. I also think it keeps life, and this blog, a little spicy.

Still, sometimes I get comments that are so negative that I'm tempted to delete them for all eternity. The following is one example. I went back and forth about what to do with it, and for some reason thought, "Heck. Maybe if I do a post about this comment, we can actually get something out of it."

So here it is as a reminder of why being positive is a lot more productive than being negative:

Explain to me how you drive a car or even brush your teeth without plastic ?

You can't even get on a bus or fly an airplane.


I bet for damn sure you've got unconscionable, unfathomable dimensions of plastic in your t.v,, your radio...


Wait a minute, YOU'RE USING A COMPUTER!


Your fake anti corporation, anti plastic b.s. is a direct stem of what is wrong with this country.

You need to find a man, get back in the kitchen and bake some damn pot pies, apple pies, casseroles

AND HAVE A PH*Kn Tupperware party, bitch! lighten up.