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.

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!

Romania: Revelations and Regrets

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

I never thought I would go to Romania, but a dear friend of mine lives there now…so across the ocean I went. Once I got there, I discovered that Romania is a beautiful country.

There are beautiful medieval cities, like Sibiu, where my friend livesan enchanting city of winding streets and mysterious passageways that would be filled with tourists if found anywhere else in Europe.

There are beautiful mountains, like those near Sinaia, that make you afraid to close your eyes as you pass them on the trainbecause you don’t want to miss a single view.

There are beautiful people, like the family we dined with while visiting a small village, that take so much pride in the food they cook.

And there are beautiful traditions, like making delicious homemade wines and working the land with horse and plow, that show a true connection to the Earth.

But as I explored the country by train and bus, I also found that there is another side of Romania.

The garbage.

In some parts of the country, it seemed to be everywhere—on the streets, in the rivers, and in the farm fields—littered there by people who didn’t care or, perhaps, by those who don’t have garbage pick-up, something I often take for granted.

Much of that garbage was plastic. Bags flying in the wind. Wrappers floating in water. Bottles left carelessly behind. It was painful to see.

Yet ironically, while I was in Romania, I used a fair amount of plastic.

I couldn’t drink the water in some places, so I bought bottled water for the first time in over two (or is it three?) years.

When I got trapped in Bucharest for an extra four days (thank Eyjafjallajökull), I bought things packaged in plastic at the grocery store, partly because I didn’t know how to be plastic-free in a different country and partly because I really wanted to continue exploring the food in this new land.

And I also bought a few presents made of plastic. I got my friend a silverware organizer as a thank you present since she hadn’t had the time to go out and buy one yet. And I splurged on a new watch for myself, which may have a faux leather band. But it might be real leather. I’m not sure.

What I am sure about is that I feel especially guilty about purchasing things made of plastic in a country riddled with a trash disposal problem.

What I’m also sure about is that I want to renew my commitment to a (mostly) plastic-free lifestyle.

So “thank you”, Romania, for helping me remember, through both you beauty and your problems, that the world is an amazing place…and that I want to do everything I can to protect it.

Bucegi mountains photo courtesy of ricsen
Horse and plow photo courtesy of wikicommons

News and Confessions

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

I’ve got something exciting to share! I’m going to interviewed by someone from a major news network on Tuesday. Yay!

But before I tell the whole world about my life not using plastic, I have to confess that I’ve had some moments of weakness over the past 7 or 8 months. I think it’s really important to be honest about this, so I want to share a list of the plastic I’ve used.

Here it is:

  • 1 silverware drawer organizer (mentioned in my last post)
  • 1 watch with synthetic band (it might be leather, though; mentioned in my last post)
  • 4 plastic produce bags (while in Romania)
  • 4 single-serve yogurts
  • 2 large containers of yogurt
  • 1 container of sour cream
  • 1 box of grape nuts
  • 1 bottle of ketchup
  • 1 container of cranberries
  • 1 container of almonds
  • 1 bag of coffee beans
  • 9 plastic clamshells of salad (due to my getting health vow as mentioned in a previous post)
  • 6 to-go coffees with plastic lids (why is coffee always the ruin of me?)
  • 4 bottles of shampoo (still trying to fend off the dandruff)
  • 1 bottle of spray gel
  • 1 container of foundation makeup
  • 1 blush
  • 1 plastic baggie

I feel pretty bad about using all of this stuff, but after doing the whole plastic-free thing for 2.5 years now, it has been hard to resist the temptation of buying plastic-packaged stuff on occasion.

I guess all I can do is move forward and keep trying.

Storing Vegetables Without Plastic in the Refrigerator

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

When I store veggies in the fridge, I typically just toss them on the shelf or put them in a glass container. Recently, though, I was wondering if there are better ways that would keep my veggies fresher. Lucky for me, Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish recently did a post on this. And just in time for farmers’ market season.

The post links to an awesome little flyer done by the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. It’s called How To: Store Fruits and Vegetables: Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic.


p.s. This isn’t in the brochure, but to store parsley or cilantro, I just put them in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and put them in the fridge. It’s a plastic-free solution and it helps them keep for a long time.

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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