A few years ago when I was starting this blog, I thought to myself, “I need a stunt.” The first stunt that came to mind was spending a year without buying or using any plastic. That thought lasted about 15 minutes. And I launched this blog without any stunts, just me and my crazy recipes and ideas. But alas, it is the final days of the Plastic Free Challenge at Rodale.com, so I want to do my part to help out. Today I will share my thoughts for eliminating plastic. And next week, I’ll share my list of challenges that we need some creative entrepreneurs to figure out.
But let me just start by saying the bane of my plastic existence is Polly Pocket, the completely unnecessary and yet totally beloved teeny-tiny plastic doll and toys that my 4-year-old discovered from her older sister, long before she reached the choking-hazard-free years. I am constantly yelling at her to Take That Plastic Out Of Your Mouth Right Now Or I Will Throw It In The Trash! And cleaning up cat vomit that has Polly Pocket outfits in it; there is clearly something orally stimulating to cats about the little princess outfits and shoes the size of ants. Well, I will be a totally evil mother if I ban Polly Pocket. So there is a Polly Pocket Exception to my plastic-reduction efforts.
Here are my top 10 tips for eliminating plastic—other than Polly Pocket—from your life:
1. Use food storage containers made of glass and stainless steel. These are getting easier and easier to find; some containers may have a plastic lid, but the plastic won’t touch the food.
2. For outdoor dining, use enamel plates and cups and stainless steel utensils. So what if you have to wash them? They won’t break if they get dropped or knocked over. And they make dining outside feel like an old-fashioned picnic, rather than a plastic trash fest.
3. Use wax paper bags for packing school lunches. They work! (Well, not for soup.)
4. Try laundry detergent powders that come in a box. I wish so many detergent companies hadn’t stopped making powders. I still buy Arm & Hammer and other powders when I can find them.
5. Get your music from iTunes. Yes, Apple has decimated the music industry and cornered the market. But I love that I don’t have to buy a CD, unwrap it, and make a mess with all the packaging and containers. And it’s so easy to make mixes with iTunes!
6. BYOB—bring your own bags. Yes, to the supermarket, but also to the mall! And little mesh produce bags too.
7. Make it from scratch. When you buy processed foods, you bring lots of plastic home from the supermarket. It’s so easy to make lots of stuff from scratch instead…even crackers!
8. Buy organic cotton feminine products. Seriously, the nonorganic stuff is overwrapped in plastic, and they also have hideous fragrances.
9. Always buy your drinks in glass bottle. It’s now completely possible to avoid plastic when buying drinks on the go. Hooray for that!
10. Ask for no plastic bags at the dry cleaner: Better yet, stop buying clothes that need to be dry-cleaned (or try alternatives to dry cleaning that you can do yourself). But if you do need dry-cleaning, just tell the cleaners that you don’t want bags. And they will not give them to you.
Those are the easier solutions. Next week, I’ll share my wish list for the ultimate in plastic elimination.