Au revoir plastic wrap

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on Au revoir plastic wrap
AnBees beeswax food wraps

Very few things seem as irreplaceable as plastic wrap. Especially Glad Press’n Seal around the holidays with its adorable prints and a go-anywhere, stay-sealed functionality. But here you go, a viable, if expensive alternative, because you can’t give up plastic unless you part with your plastic wrap.

Above, a picture of a bowl of leftover steel-cut oats, wrapped in a beeswax Saran-wrap substitute. I bought a set of these organic reusable beeswax wraps with a cotton storage bag off of Amazon — four altogether in three sizes — for $22.23 with free shipping. Link: Organic Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps – Set of 4 Eco-Friendly Wraps via @amazon

If using these wraps goes well, I will likely spring for a few more, but I have to tell you they are an investment. They are supposed to last about a year, though I don’t know how many uses I’ll be able to get out of each one. Here’s a link to another brand, package of nine for a whopping $44.95: Link: Organic Reusable Food Wraps by Etee – Biodegradable, Non-Toxic & Plastic Free via @amazon

I still have two rolls of Press’n Seal and some Saran wrap in my cupboard, which I imagine will still go on plates of cookies and whatnot that go to work, pitch-ins, etc. But it feels good to have an alternative for covering up my leftover oatmeal, etc., and to keep a little more plastic out of the waste stream.


Starting the year off right with reusable produce bags

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on Starting the year off right with reusable produce bags
Reusable produce bags start the year off right with organic produce from Whole Foods (formerly Wild Oats Marketplace in Nora, Indiana).
Reusable produce bags holding organic produce from Whole Foods, formerly known as Wild Oats Marketplace in Nora, Indiana

Every day I hear more news stories about our planet’s burgeoning plastic problem and I realize we truly are at a tipping point. It exciting and disturbing. The exciting part is that many more people are listening to the fact that this truly is a problem. The disturbing part is the work that lies ahead of us to change not only our behavior but that of corporations.

Driving home from work today I listened to this story on NPR: An Island Crusader Takes On The Big Brands Behind Plastic Waste. The report focuses on Asian countries that consume products designed for consumers that can’t afford to purchase large amounts, so companies package them in small plastic “sachets.” Here’s how the article describes one poor village near Manila Bay:

“People live elbow to elbow in shacks elevated a few feet above ankle-deep water from the neighboring swamp. Below their shacks, you can’t tell whether it’s dirt or water because it’s all literally covered with a uniform carpet of plastic debris, most of it empty sachets.”

According to the article, two of the companies that are marketing products in this way, Nestle and Unilever, have plans to make all their packaging recyclable by 2025. (Those companies are on my list to target about their packaging for markets in the U.S.)

I was so thrilled to hear this report, that it completely overtook my planned post today. Oh yeah, reusable produce bags. They’re a really good idea. I received some as a Christmas gift and used them at Whole Foods last weekend. See the picture, above. Does anyone remember Wild Oats Marketplace in Nora, Indiana? It was a great little store, every bit as much Whole Paycheck as its successor. Oh well. I have a feeling that more and more of whole paycheck in 2019 will be going toward figuring this plastic thing out, but the rewards will be worth it.


An appeal to a food industry giant

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on An appeal to a food industry giant

If you’ve followed food industry news for as many years as I have, you may be aware of the very large imprint of the Nestle company.

My adaptation of Nestle Toll House cookies has been a hit among family and friends, who say they’re the best chocolate chip cookies they’ve ever had. Nestle produces so many things I love, so it pains me to boycott them. Today I sent them a letter about Lean Cuisine, which is packaged in plastic trays that cannot be recycled.

I hope they will adopt a sustainable food option. As I wrote in my letter, downloadable below, the company’s “Glazed Chicken with Vegetable Rice,” has been in my repertoire since I gave birth to my first child in the 1980s. Through the years, when I have looked for convenient ways to restrict calories, I have relied on Lean Cuisine.

However, Lean Cuisine products are packaged in plastic trays. According to its own website, these trays are made from polyethylene terephthalate, for which there is no longer a recycling market. Here’s a capture from their website:

Nestle is a giant in the food industry. It has the power to affect broad, global change. Unfortunately, the company has demonstrated that power in some not-so-savory ways, such as introducing low-quality junk food to countries that used to eat healthy fresh food. The New York Times has reported on some of this, and here is a link to one of those articles.

I am also not enamored Nestle’s bottled water business located here in Indiana. Bottles that have contained water are among the most common items trashing our oceans and contributing to the worldwide health issues posed by plastic waste and microplastics.

With as big as Nestle is in the food industry, I’m sure I will be writing to them many times over the next year. I hope they will begin a conversation about how they can be better stewards of our planet. Because in the final analysis, it won’t matter how much money they make if they are instrumental in ruining the environment. That is what I tell them in my letter, below.


Dear Dannon

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on Dear Dannon

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. You have improved my digestion and therefore my health. You go to work with me each day. I love not only your spoon-able yogurt, but your yogurt drinks. Alas, however, I must boycott you.

You see, your containers are made of plastic, and plastic is destroying our environment. I hope you will read the letter I am mailing you tomorrow, and that you will consider my suggestions to sell your products in glass containers. Download my letter below.

Meanwhile, I will be learning to make my own yogurt. I understand there’s a great recipe for the Instant Pot.


The long odds of my New Year’s resolution

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on The long odds of my New Year’s resolution

Thank goodness I’m approaching this project with a realistic degree of optimism. Otherwise, I might have considered New Year’s Day, the first day of this project, a complete failure. Instead, I’m looking at the experience as an opportunity to change not only my behavior, but that of a major corporation.

So we found ourselves at the movie theater at Glendale yesterday in need of lunch between movies (we saw Vice and Mary Poppins Returns). Much to my dismay, there I was on Day 1 of my resolution to say goodbye to plastic, consuming a drink with a plastic lid and straw, and a hot dog in a plastic clamshell container, topped with condiments from single-serve plastic packets.

Let’s face it. We’re all plagued with these dilemmas. So here’s what I decided to do about it. I wrote Landmark Theatres a nice long letter, praising their use of biodegradable brown paper popcorn bags, educating them about the dangers of plastic waste in our environment, and offering suggestions for eliminating plastic in their concessions. Download the letter, below, and feel free to use it, or parts of it, for your own letter. And stay tuned. I plan to follow up with them and engage them on Twitter @indykjsharp.


2019: Saying goodbye to plastic

by Kelly Posted in Goodbye Plastic | Comments Off on 2019: Saying goodbye to plastic
By Fangz (talk) - Fangz created this work entirely by himself in Photoshop, using materials in the public domain., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5077997

Finally, 10 years after I wrote about this topic in our local newspaper, the issue of plastic waste in our environment has hit the mainstream. A widely watched episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes in mid-December, “Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean,” showed the deadly consequences of the throwaway society we’ve built across the globe over the past half-century.

Suddenly, I began hearing folks discussing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the danger this plastic trash and micro-plastics pose for wildlife and for humans. People who formerly seemed not to care have been talking about foregoing plastic straws and taking reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid taking plastic bags. More municipalities across the country are passing common-sense regulations to ban straws and Styrofoam takeout containers. It seems we’re at a possible tipping point.

I’ve been reducing, reusing and recycling for many years, and had decided consuming plastic in limited quantities seemed to be OK as long as we had the ability to recycle it. We recycle through our waste management company, Republic Services, which says it recycles plastics 1-7, including milk jugs, water and soda containers and shampoo, soap and detergent bottles. But an open question for me is what happens to these items once they’re picked up each week from our yellow-and-blue bin?

According to an NPR report last June, for the past 25 years, the U.S. had been exporting plastic recyclables to China, but the Chinese suddenly decided to stop taking them. The New York Times also reported on this issue last January.

How did it ever make any sense to incur a massive carbon footprint to recycle plastic? And what is happening to our plastics once they hit Republic’s recycling stream? In Indianapolis, because we burn our garbage to provide heating and cooling for downtown, would it be more responsible to simply throw plastic into the trash so it doesn’t end up in the oceans and on our beaches and on the shores of third-world countries?

In 2019, I am making it my goal to get to the bottom of these questions and to work toward eliminating plastic from my life by 2020. I plan to lobby corporations and lawmakers to make common-sense reforms regarding plastic and to encourage others to consume less. More on these efforts in future blog posts.

Here’s to a plastic-free future. Happy New Year.


Requiem For a Grocery Store

by Kelly Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Requiem For a Grocery Store

The closing of the Nora Marsh Supermarket has come as no surprise. The energy went out of it years ago, when Whole Foods set up shop in the same neighborhood. Then Kroger moved in across the street, and gradually, the only people left shopping at Marsh were a few silver-haired people, and me.

I’ve been shopping at that store every week for the past 16 years. I’ve witnessed its various attempts at renaissance, remodeling and restocking with organic, local foods and produce. Then came the decline, as people’s food habits and tastes changed and other stores fit those needs more quickly, albeit not always more economically. Read the rest of this entry »

Consuming News: Getting the Facts

by Kelly Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Consuming News: Getting the Facts

In 2015, an intern at my last job recommended that I subscribe to the email newsletter the Daily Skimm, and because I never get enough email in one day, I took her up on it. What I found was a cute take on the news of the moment, with a “quote of the day,” links to some top stories and happy birthday wishes to individual subscribers—packaged with a bit of self-deprecating feminine snark.

After looking at a few of the emails, I created a rule in my in-box to filter the daily messages into a folder, and pretty much forgot about it. My daily consumption of news was already abundant, and I didn’t have the capacity to read one more thing.

Then recently, I came upon this sponsored advertisement while scrolling down my Facebook wall:

“Feel like the media’s letting you down? Meet the Daily Skimm. It’s our daily newsletter that gives you everything you need to know in a nonpartisan, no BS, way. Just the facts. Oh and it’s free. Join the 4 million people who wake up with us every day. You’re welcome.” Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Values: Honor

by Kelly Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Exploring Values: Honor

An important step in any life change is an exploration and review of one’s values. I learned this from a wonderful executive coach, Starla West, who showed me a list similar to this one. The first value I selected, and the one I come back to time and again, is Honor.

“Return with Honor,” motto of the 31st Fighter Wing

Honor has resonance for me because of the way my parents raised me, but also because of my military service. “Return with Honor” was the motto of the unit to which I was assigned at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. The motto was emblazoned at the entrance to base headquarters, it was displayed on the F-4 Phantom fighter jets chocked up on the flightline, and it was embroidered on patches sewn onto my fatigues.

The value of this idea, to return with honor, was later reinforced at the USAF Survival School, where I was stationed and served as its Wing Historian. In addition to basic survival training, the unit conducted resistance training using lessons from the Vietnam War and other conflicts. Pilots, navigators and intelligence officers took the training, which involved survival, evasion, resistance and escape. The goal, if captured, was to return with honor. That meant not giving crucial information to the enemy, not betraying your fellow service members and holding your conduct to the highest standards.

Honor is decency. It’s integrity. It’s doing what’s right and good when no one is looking. It plays out in the workplace through hard work, diligence and persistence, something I absolutely believe everyone owes to their employer. It’s doing your best, regardless of circumstances. Honor is fairness, and it is Truth.

Imagine if honor was the first requirement for our leaders and elected officials. What a different world that would be!

Embracing Change

by admin Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Embracing Change

Hello, World!

Isn’t that how a blog is supposed to start? Except that this blog isn’t new in the strictest sense. Content once lived here and on a previous blog that included musings on politics, the environment, racial issues and life. At various points since 2009, when I stopped writing commentary for The Indianapolis Star, I’ve used blogging to exercise my writing and thinking muscles. That will be true again.

Our country has undergone a radical transformation, and the deeply unsettling nature of these changes has been magnified for me on a number of personal fronts. Just before the New Year, I left a job I loved, that I had poured my heart into for the past five years. At that time, I decided to focus on some areas of my life that suffered during that period, including my personal fitness, spiritual health and relationships. Part of this focus is being intentional about how I spend my time. More reading! Less social media. More writing! Less social media. More of the things I care about. Less of all that other stuff.

Life can change, and does, within instants. Loss of a loved one. A cancer diagnosis. A tornado. Life also changes in long, slow drips, like stalactites that multiply in the cold, damp, unchanging environment of a cavern. We can look outward and fear the scope of change, or we can pull something from deep within ourselves, something that says we are both divinely protected but absolutely in charge of our next steps. And from that place, we go forward.

Hello, world! I’m back.