Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Living With Less Plastic

It's ubiquitous, it's obnoxious, it's strangling the planet -- that's plastic. Our economy is addicted to it and its convenience. I have no statistics on how much the average person uses (misuses, has to dispose of) but I know it's too much.

Here's what I've done in the last two years to shrink down my "plastic heap":
1. Filter my own tap water and drink it from stainless steel bottles. A lot of times I don't filter it, but in the summer our local supply picks up a noticeable taste from some plants growing in it. The big filter jug in the refrigerator cuts down our need to run tap water until it is cold in the summer as well.

2. Switch from plastic clothespins to bamboo. The plastic ones were disintegrating anyway -- literally falling apart in the storage bag after a few uses on the outdoor dryer.

3. Don't drink carbonated drinks. A great health measure in many respects anyway.

4. Buy a big bag of flour in a paper bag and bake my own bread, English muffins, hamburger buns, sausage holders and pizza. The flour is stored in food-safe plastic buckets. I think about four months of storage evened the amount of plastic used to store the flour and the amount of plastic I was recycling from bread product bags and bulk food store bags. My body doesn't miss the bread product preservatives at all!

5. Make my own kefir from goat milk (in a wax board carton). Kefir requires only a glass jar, growing culture, and room heat to develop. This is easier and requires less heating than yogurt. No more plastic yogurt containers!

6. Grow my own sprouts. No more plastic bags or containers for these!

7. Buy apples in bulk from the farmer's market.

8. Use good quality bar soap for washing and shampoo (lasts a lot longer than liquids -- and no more plastic bottles!)

9. Re-use plastic containers or glass containers with lids for storing leftovers. (No more plastic film!) Also do the same for lunches away from home.

Things I want to do over the next year:
1. Switch from plastic for freezer storage to glass or soy-waxed paper.

2. Keep refining the list of what I can to best replace what I buy in the way of condiments (often in plastic containers!).

3. Make my own salad dressing.

4. Get all my soil amendments and mulches in bulk in my own containers. This ended up being my biggest use of plastic this spring. I'm still expanding my garden so I need more compost than I produce at this point.

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