Another Blog Contest: Last Day to Participate

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

Today is the last day to enter the blog contest and win $50 worth of ACME grocery bags from Reusablebags.com. Don’t forget to enter!

Another Blog Contest

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

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.

The City Cart: The New Icon of the Environmental Movement

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

If you’re still using the term “granny cart,” I feel like I should tell you something. You’re really not hip anymore.

I know. I apologize for insulting you, but if you were in any way fashionable, you would know that these wire-framed wonders are now being called “city carts” and are no longer just for grannies.

Indeed, trend-setting city folk all of over the U.S. are turning these city carts into everyday companions and using them to carry groceries, to haul laundry, and, of course, to transport 24-packs of PBR back to their apartments.

Since fashion dictates action (at least sometimes), I want to thank hipster city-dwellers for making the city cart fashionable and allowing it to blossom into its new role as icon of the urban environmental movement.

This may be obvious to many, but here’s why the city cart can be an important part of living sustainably:

Reason #1 – City carts make it possible to go to the grocery store on foot. This means fewer people driving and could even mean fewer cars (I say this because trips to the grocery store are one of the only things that ever make me wish I had a car).

Reason #2 – City carts can help prevent food waste. If the city cart could help inspire the reestablishment of the local market as a viable way to shop for groceries, people could go to the store more often, making them less likely to waste food.

This is what happens in Berlin. There are grocery stores everywhere in the city, so people aren’t forced to make unreliable predictions about how much produce or milk or yogurt they will need over the next week or two. Instead they can make quick stops to the market to buy only what they need for making dinner that night.

Food waste may not sound like a big deal, but according to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills 2007. That’s more than 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills and creating methane gas as it decays–the same gas that’s helping to destroy our ozone layer and cause global warming.

Reason #3 – Less food waste means less packaging waste – 78.5 million tons of packaging were sent to landfills in 2007. Although I don’t have statistics, a fair percentage of this is likely from food packaging. If we can cut food waste, we can also cut packaging waste, including plastic waste.

So you see, city carts have the potential to help us reduce the number of cars on the road and cut the amount of food and packaging waste we send to landfills.

Or at least I think they do.

My new boyfriend, Mike, on the other hand, thinks that I’ve got a thin argument and that I am trying to make city carts cool because I just got one of my own.

He’s totally wrong—but if I ever hear someone referring to my city cart as a “granny cart,” I’m going to be really mad.

Image courtesy of nona*

Another Blog Contest: Announcing The Winner

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

The random drawing has been ceremoniously conducted, and I’m pleased to announce that the winner of most recent blog contest is Heather Lynne!

To claim your prize, Heather, just send me an email at lifelessplastic@yahoo.com.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Walmart Demonstrates Green Washing With A Carpet Cleaner

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

Walmart recently put out a commercial that introduces some seriously flawed logic.

The ad starts out okay. They talk about protecting the Earth and show us a cute little Bissell carpet cleaner that’s made from 50% recycled plastic.

Okay, I’m on board.

But then they try to convince us to buy said carpet cleaners by saying: “If every Walmart customer—all 200 million of us—bought one, it would be like recycling 2 million bags of trash. Now that is some serious cleaning power”

When I heard first heard that, I wanted to pinch my arm to be sure I was awake. I asked myself, “Did they seriously just say that? Seriously?”

Walmart is trying to convince people that buying 200 million new carpet cleaners made of 50% recycled plastic (a.k.a. 50% virgin plastic) is good for the environment?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me!

You know what would be better for the environment? Renting a carpet cleaner or borrowing one from a neighbor, or, dare I say it, buying one used.

But I guess I don’t expect Walmart to share these types of ideas with people.

I do expect, however, that they don’t run around telling people who don’t need or want a carpet cleaner that the best thing they could do for the environment is to buy one.

I mean, seriously! That’s just wrong.

Why I Love Dumpster Diving, Garbage Picking, and Other People’s Trash

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

A few days ago, I stepped into the alley behind my apartment and beheld a wonderful sight: a pristine, white dish drainer sitting atop my neighbors’ garbage can.

Heck yeah! This was a clear message from my neighbors. It read, “Hey everyone. I’m throwing this thing away, but it’s in perfect condition, and I know one of you will want it.”

They were right.

Immediately, my natural instinct to acquire perfectly usable stuff that other people are throwing away took over. I snagged the drainer and brought it back to my house, where it joined all the other things I’ve gained from garbage picking.

As I stowed my new-to-me contraption away, I happily thought, “How perfect! I really needed a dish drainer.” (I’m moving to a cozy new apartment on July 1. The place doesn’t include roommates with useful kitchen gadgets.)

Yep, because of my find, I was enjoying a nice little high–like the one you get when you chance upon a dollar bill on the ground.

But then all of the sudden my high started to wear off. And I got annoyed.

I got annoyed because people look down so much on dumpster diving. They think it’s gross and dirty, but what these narrow-minded people don’t understand is that it almost never is.

Just like my neighbors, many people leave the “good stuff” outside their garbage cans, making it clean and easy to grab things. That means you don’t have to do anything untoward, yet you still get to enjoy all the benefits:

  • You prevent the pollution and resource waste that results from making new products
  • You divert “good stuff” from landfills
  • You get cool shit for free!

How amazing!

Below are pictures of things that were all once trashed. They are now my treasures. I hope they’ll inspire you to do a little alley hunting yourself and to always leave your “good stuff” on top of your garbage can.

Isn’t my coffee table gorgeous?

I keep this chair on my back porch.

I potted an aloe in a pretty dish I happened upon.

This antique wooden crate was a true find.

San Francisco, I’m Green…with Envy

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

San Francisco is driving me to a perpetual state of jealousy.

The reasons are many, but today it is because the city has so many cool stores. For example, I just heard of a new place called Green 11 that seems super amazing.

Located on Union Street in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, Green 11 sells organic beauty products and household cleaners that you can buy and take home in your own reusable containers.

Specifically, the store is offering concentrated organic shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, liquid soap, kitchen cleaners, bath cleaners, and laundry detergent.

In Chicago, you absolutely can’t get these types of products in your own containers. I swear if I had the cojones I’d open a store simply so I could get them.

Anyways, check out the additional pictures below as evidence of how cool San Fran is.

Darn you, San Francisco!

Summer Break is Over

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

My co-worker, Nick, won’t stop asking me why I haven’t blogged since May. Nearly every day his loud, annoying voice curls around the wall between our cubicles and grates at my ears.

What I hear is something like, “So, Jeanne.”

It’s not a question, but I know there’s more to it. I know what’s coming. I say, “yeeeaaaah?”

Then he asks, “So, when are you gonna write another blog post?”

“Uhh…I don’t know!”

But that’s not totally true. I do sort of know why.

I moved into a new apartment last month and was transported into an anti-blogging state of preoccupation, confusion, and plastification.

Excuse #1: Preoccupation
I spent a good portion of June packing up my old apartment and moving into my new place. Then I had to unpack (Secret: I’m still not 100% done. I have one box to left to unpack and I still haven’t figured out how to organize my closets).

On top of that, it’s the summer, and my usually-super-busy boyfriend has tons of free time, and I went to visit my friend’s farm for a weekend, and I’ve been working on a new photo project. And, and, and.

Excuse #2: Confusion
It is not just the preoccupation. Now that I’m in a new apartment and location, I’ve had to figure out how to shop again. I had to assess the general plastic-free-ness of the products at my new grocery store and figure out the best way to get to a Whole Foods. I had to reform my routine—the exact routine that allows me to be (nearly) plastic-free in the first place.

Excuse #3: Plastic
I’ve used some plastic during this busy and confusing time, which left me un-motivated to write. Here’s a list of the things I recall using:

  • A Starbucks ice coffee cup
  • Two coffee cup lids
  • A carry out container (from delicious thai food)
  • Blue corn chips bag
  • A few straws
  • Two plastic forks and two plastic knives (at continental breakfast while on a mini-break)
  • Plastic bag (from cherries at a farmers’ market)

That’s all I can remember for now. I know it’s not so bad, but I felt terrible for each and every one of these things.

Summer Break Is Over
So that’s it. Summer is over, and it’s time to say “adios” to preocccupation, confusion, and plastic.

And it’s time to say “hello” to my blog! HELLO BLOG!

Thanks to Nick for allowing me to make fun of him in this post. If you’ve got time, check out his marketing strategy blog, Never A Lack of Ideas.

One Year of Plastic

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

A Life Less Plastic reader recently emailed to tell me about a project he undertook—to save an entire year of his family’s plastic usage.

This is what it looked like:

Scott, the plastic-saver, explains his endeavor.

“I heard all the talk about plastics being bad for your health and the environment but wanted to know what my family (single parent, twin daughters) was using. So the best way to do that was gather the facts, save the plastic, and see.”

His result was a decent-sized, although probably much smaller than average, hill of plastic. He laments, “I’m fairly conservative with waste and I still got this big pile.”

“I have [enough] plastic forks, spoons, knives, and straws to last a long time.”

Quite enlightening. Thanks, Scott, for sharing photos and info on your project.

Moving Doesn’t Have to Be Wasteful

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

I have to admit something. When I was packing up my apartment back in June, I had a lot of I-should-just-throw-this-out moments.

You know what I mean. You’re standing in your kitchen tossing utensils and cans of kidney beans into a box and you come across something you can’t imagine bringing to your new place. Maybe it’s a half-full box of pasta or a stray teabag. Who knows.

Either way, you’re so exhausted that the very prospect of carrying eight ounces of pasta or a half-ounce teabag the thirty feet out to the moving van seems like a serious waste of energy.

I think it happens to everybody, but I’m happy to say that I resisted the temptation to trash everything and start over. Instead, I mustered up the strength, put everything I had into boxes, and moved it all to my new apartment. I didn’t toss a single thing out…except for one mostly dead aloe plant that someone ended up rescuing anyway.

And I have to say, moving those extra few boxes really wasn’t bad, especially when you consider that I probably saved myself a fair amount of money by keeping those useful things.

Mind you, I did give a lot of clothes and shoes to Goodwill, but I didn’t ditch everything in the dumpster.

THIS, I must point out, is more than I can say for the guy who moved out of my building last weekend. I’ve never seen anything like it. The day he moved out, he scrapped the following:

  • a beautiful vintage couch (which got rained on before I could put up an add on Craigslist’s free section)
  • an antique radio
  • curtains
  • sheets
  • a drying rack (this is mine now, I needed one)
  • books
  • nice wooden hangers
  • a bucket (mine now, too)
  • a plant stand
  • a cooler
  • and much, much more

It was ridiculous. He threw away things he surely could have used in his new home, like food and hangers, as well as things he could have donated or sold to other people. It was really sad.

But why be sad? Moving doesn’t have to be wasteful because the following resources and organizations can help you make your next move more eco-friendly.

Resources

  • Freecardboardboxes.com – Connect with people who are giving old moving boxes away.
  • Usedcardboardboxes.com – Buy moving boxes that have been rescued from large companies that might otherwise recycle them or simply throw them away.
  • Freecycle – Give your unwanted things to others who will cherish them. Note that people give moving boxes away on this site ALL the time.
  • Craigslist – Sell unwanted items or create a post in the “free” section. You can even do this for stuff you’re leaving in your alley.
  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army

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