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.

Two Year Anniversary of Life Less Plastic!

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

It’s been two years since I started writing this blog and trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use. It’s been a crazy ride, filled with lots of ups and downs, including but not limited too…

The Ups

  • Successfully figuring out how to use less plastic.
  • Educating myself about plastic, waste, and other environmental issues that I never thought about before.
  • Experiencing endless support from family, friends, co-workers, and readers.
  • Watching the readership and comments on my blog grow and grow. It’s been great to know that people are interested in what I’m doing.
  • Being featured in Time Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, Positively Green Magazine, and on NPR, the BBC website, and Forecast Earth, the Weather Channel’s environmental website (click the links for the stories).

The Downs

  • Trying to figure out how to reduce the plastic I use. The first few months were really tough because I had to completely rethink everything I buy.
  • Using plastic, even though I write this blog. I hate it, but it happens on occasion and I usually feel like I’m deceiving people. It’s just hard not to give into my weaknesses for coffee and fancy cheeses.
  • Being scared that people will think I’m a freak. Not conforming is hard, even if it’s with something like not using plastic. For a long time a didn’t even have the guts to tell my co-workers about what I’m doing.

Through all of these ups and downs, there have been many people who have supported me, which I have appreciated immensely.

The Thanks Yous

  • My family – Thanks to my Mom and Dad for always being interested in and supportive of what I’m doing, and thanks to my siblings for providing ideas, commentary, and general well wishes. Thanks also go out to my family for making the effort to create my first plastic-free Christmas and my second one.
  • My friends – Thanks to all of my friends who have put up with my plastic-free-ness. It’s always appreciated. Additional thanks to a certain someone who had to put up with me when I was first figuring out what I was doing. I know it was annoying, so thanks for being patient!
  • My co-workers, who are also my friends – Why was I so scared to tell you at first? Thanks so much for all your support and positive feedback (and for not being too mad that I waited to tell you about this project).
  • Life Less Plastic readers – Thank you for all of your interest, as well as for your thoughtful and supportive comments. Some of you have been with me on this ride since the beginning, and I dearly appreciate everything you have contributed.

The Blog Contest
To mark my two year anniversary, I’ll be hosting another blog contest in the near future. Check back soon for the details.

And thanks again to everyone!

Homemade Apple Butter

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

I made homemade apple butter for the first time! And I even canned it myself!

I made it in the crock pot using this recipe (but with half the sugar) and then used this page for instructions on how to can it.

The verdict? Apple butter is delicious and VERY easy to make—even for a newbie like me.

I just prepared an apple sauce the evening before, dumped it in the crock along with some cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and salt in the morning, and when I came home from work, my apple butter was almost finished. It just needed to simmer in the pot on high for one more hour.

The canning on the other hand was not so easy. I had never canned anything before, and I didn’t have the right supplies. I figured, eh, I’ll manage.

Bad idea. I definitely needed a wire rack for my pot to avoid upsetting the lids of the jars as I was lifting them out of the boiling water. I also needed some sort of funnel. I made a HUGE mess pouring the apple butter into the jars.

All said and done, though, I was successful and now have tons of delicious apple butter. And once it’s all gone, I can re-use my jars again and again (which will hopefully help me get better and more efficient at canning). Yay!

Note: If you want to skip the canning stage, you can always make your jam and freeze in in freezer-safe Ball jars. It can’t get any easier!

Eating Healthier

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

Hello All! It’s been a while since I posted, and I wanted to provide an update on what’s going with me.

I’m still living a mostly plastic-free life, except I’ve recently made a few important changes to my anti-plastic pledge.

First, in an effort to do some serious weight loss, I’ve decided to forgo my plastic pledge in the rare occasion that being plastic-free forces me eat food that isn’t the best for me.

For example, if I don’t have time to make a lunch before work and I have to go to a restaurant to grab something, I have decided to choose getting a salad (even if it comes in a plastic shell) over a less healthy sandwich.

Second, I have also started buying bagged lettuce on occasion. I’ve been doing this because I want to incorporate more salad greens into my diet and I’m getting pretty sick of spinach, one of the only plastic-free leafy vegetables I can find.

When all is said and done, these few changes will not amount to much plastic used. Maybe one plastic clamshell (or less) and a few plastic bags per month.

Still, I’m unhappy to start using more plastic, but it’s something I have to do for myself and my health.

Update: It’s several months later, and I’m no longer buying salads in plastic shells or bags. Maybe I’m saying this because it’s almost summer and the farmers markets are starting up, but who needs it!

Toxic America: I’m on the CNN Homepage

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

I’m on the CNN homepage! Unfortunately they spelled my name completely wrong (as Jean Healge), but that’s okay. I’m so excited!

Update: They fixed the spelling of my name on the homepage and within the video. Those CNN people or responsive! Thanks CNN!

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