Archive for the Goodbye Plastic Category

Au revoir plastic wrap

Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019 at 17:00
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.


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Starting the year off right with reusable produce bags

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 at 21:02
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.


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An appeal to a food industry giant

Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019 at 18:33

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.


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Dear Dannon

Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 20:35

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.


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The long odds of my New Year’s resolution

Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 22:08

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.


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2019: Saying goodbye to plastic

Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 at 20:37
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.


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