Saturday, November 28, 2009


Life is wonderful, but the purpose of posting, besides that it has been a long while since I've updated, is to share some of my recent disappointments related to the plastic challenge.

We had a great day being out as a family today, but we were supposed to be at our house cooking and eating Thanksgiving dinner with Tim's family. His brother was going to arrive with the plastic wrapped turkey and essential canned (lined in plastic) cranberry sauce bought by him, and we had been excitedly planning, but not yet fully deciding the rest of the meal without consuming any plastic. All of our plans were canceled today due to my brother-in-law being very very sick with what is most probably meningitis. We are super concerned, yet hopeful he'll be better within the next few weeks in order for us to have our meal closer to Christmas...during reduce electricity use month! :)

Ok, so some not so concerning disappointments...
Chick-fil-a will NOT put coffee into my travel mug, nor will they allow me to provide any container at all for soda. It's emabarrassing to share that I tried several times, but um, I do love fountain coke zero (in moderation, of No travel mug, no dish from my kitchen, and no paper cup from another restaurant. Their use of styrofoam for all drinks was already sad to me, but now I am incredibly disappointed. Thank goodness for all of the coffee shops around here, local and Starbucks, that have no problem filling up my cup with coffee...and for cheap. Speaking of cheap, Krispy Kreme, gave us coffee for .25 in our cups and a free refill when we were there as a family last night getting fat and watching them make doughnuts.

Secondly, I was wrong about the Biokleen laundry detergent. The box is all cardboard and the detergent shakes like it is in there loosely, but in fact, it is in a plastic bag with a plastic scoop. ooops. So...I'll have to say that I still have not figured out a no plastic solution for laundry detergent.

Thirdly, I went out shopping on Black Friday because I love being out early in the holiday chaos, buying a few items on my shopping list, and drinking a yummy coffee drink, then returning home with the rest of the day ahead. I had a great morning roaming and finding a good deal on our Christmas Eve pajamas and a couple of holiday shirts for the kids, but I was highly aware of the absolutely astonishing amounts of plastic bought that day, the smells of different stores, the credit cards swiped, the items bought that will not be well loved, yet threw TONS of toxins out into the air to produce and may not be safe to have in our homes, etc. As highly aware as I was, guess what I brought home...2 plastic bags! oops again! I have been using reusable bags for years...way before this month's challenge.

Along the same lines, we were relaxing at dinner out the other night and looked over to realize that the kids had been brought their water in styrofoam cups with plastic lids and plastic straws. ugg. It's so hard to be on the ball all the time. We have been asking for the water in regular glasses, which has gotten us the "you give your 2 year old a real glass without a top?" look. Wouldn't it be great if people were more surprised that we gave our 2 year old plastic instead?

Well, enough telling on myself. :) On a positive note, our life has changed drastically in some areas due to not consuming plastic for almost a month. Cloth diapering again...on a 2.5 year old who had gotten used to wearing disposables, the people we've talked with, the amount of trash/waste we have, and our grocery shopping and what we have to eat in our house have been the the top of my head.

Finishing this month strong, and planning on continuing most of what we're doing now into next month!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grateful No Plastic Girl

Well, well, plastic girl has not been around because I have been sort of busy and very emotionally drained after a terrifying accident with a tractor trailer on Monday night of this week. The tractor trailer ran a red light and slammed into the back of and then side swiped my van on the passenger side with only me in it. So...this accident has left no plastic girl very tired after staying up that entire night and not catching up on sleep since, very grateful that I was hardly hurt at all, without my beloved green van, at the chiropractor dealing with some neck issues that appear to have been caused by the accident, and busy figuring out all of the next steps. In all of this, we have all continued in our committment not to consume plastic. Well, wait...using our credit card doesn't count, does it? would only count if I acquired another plastic card...I think we're ok using what we already have.

In all of the craziness that has been my life this week, I did take a paper cup drink from a drive through with a plastic lid and not even realize until after I pulled out, grab a mint in a plastic wrapper from the chiropractor (and then immediately put it back after dh reminded me), and order a bagel with cream cheese from a coffee shop, where I went directly back to the counter to trade out the little plastic tub for a cheap pat of butter. The barista brought out a weird plastic container with silverware in it when I asked if they had a knife that was not plastic (there were huge cups of the plastic stuff sitting out). So...not much harm done while I have been temporarily insance.

Speaking of temporary insanity and gratitude, I could not be more thankful for my friend, Christina, who has graciously loaned me tons of cloth diapers to use on Kendall, and for Kate who loaned me four and should be very happy that I am no longer washing those diapers twice a day. :) (where the insanity part comes in) We are down to a tiny stack of disposables that we are saving for when Kendall attends Mother's Morning Out on Tuesday (nice name, btw, when I happen to be working my butt off that for the last time this month. We have not decided exactly how little plastic we will consume, if any, after this month, but I can see us using a disposable diaper both at night and at MMO.

Life is good. I am so grateful for all the split seconds and inches and divine intervention that saved my life this week. Non plastic things I am grateful for this week:
PJ Madison's "organic super premium gelato style ice cream" being in all plastic seal whatsoever...and on "manager's special" at kroger from $4.99/pint to $2.59/pint
Biokleen laundry detergent in a box with no plastic handle
Ecover dishwasher detergent, powdered, in all paper.
ice cream (dream) cones from Chick fil A
my kids, who are really loving not buying plastic, and who have not thrown one fit about not being able to get something plastic they want once being reminded of that. Isaac did say the other day, "Mommy, why can't we have milk anymore?"

Well, I am off to figure out if I can make my own mayonaise. It's going to suck so bad for deviled eggs to have to become a huge project. I am going to try to be empowered by the fact that I am making mayonaise from scratch, but ultimately, I'll be wishing it was next month, when I would buy the one glass jar of mayo I found...with the plastic top and plastic seal around the top.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plastic Mountain

I have been needing to go to the grocery store for a couple of days now, but have just not made it there. We have had oatmeal for breakfast for three days straight and are officially out of most of what we consider the essentials. I was out tonight with a friend and decided to pick up a few things at Kroger before I headed home. time you go to the regular grocery store, take a look up and down aisles in search for something other than plastic. Here's what I found tonight: apples, bananas, jar of applesauce, jar of spaghetti sauce, wasa crackers (mmm...hope kids love crunchy, light whole wheat cardboard as much as I!), egg nog in a paper carton, spreadable "butter" sticks (because I hate trying to spread my organic unsalted butter sticks) and a box of coke zero. Besides the items I listed above and bought, I found jarred olives, heavy whipping cream, ice cream sandwiches, and some loose fruits and veggies. It is truly amazing. There were whole sections of the store where I did not find one item not in plastic. Tonight, I searched all of the pasta options and found NOTHING. Every single box had a plastic window. I also searched the ice cream selections and found boxes with plastic rings around the top, boxes with plastic sheets to seal/cover the ice cream inside, and boxes with a plastic rim around the top to act as a seal. About the time I remembered that ice cream sandwiches are wrapped in paper in a paper box, I also remembered that I had a plate of cookies in the car from a friend, so I abandoned the aisle all together.

Being almost out of diapers and food has made some nervousness set in today, but I am reassured by my thoughts of Earth Fare, the cow in my freezer, and The Granary as well as my friends who have offered their cloth diapers for me to borrow. I don't think Kendall has any clothes she can wear with a big cloth diaper butt, but pantless or diaperless, she will not be wearing disposables much longer.

Now...what in THE WORLD am I going to do about THANKSGIVING!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plastic Hurts

I had a couple of sad run ins with plastic today, some worse than others. The nursing home where I work is required to cover all residents' drink/food during transport, and although that rule has always been in place, it is being enforced recently. I often pick up food and drink from the kitchen for swallowing therapy, so this means every coffee I request (the residents love to drink coffee with me in therapy) will have a plastic disposable cover, and there is nothing I will be able to do about that. Actually, I washed the ones from today and am crossing my fingers they will reuse them for me since it is such a small scale of 2-3 coffees I am talking about and not the whole facility practice or something.

We made lemonade in therapy with my private kids today due to one kid's request to "make lemons" after seeing them as decor on a table in a cookbook during our last session. Don't ask me why I thought it would be a super cheap activity, but lemons were 3/$2, so buying 9 lemons to make sure we had enough for the 4 kids in therapy and I to squeeze as well as to make enough lemonade for the rest of the large family to enjoy, turned out to be a $6 and change activity. What did I find after filling the bottom of my basket with loose lemons (cashiers love it when I don't have my cloth produce!)? A BIG plastic bag of lemons for $4. By this time, I had already had a bit of a strange day and decided to "treat" myself, however I had not walked into the store prepared with alternative containers and could find nothing without plastic...the bakery, the candy, nothing. Ultimately makes me so happy not to consume the plastic or the extra calories, but not fun in the short term moment.

But anyway, the really sad part came about tonight when I went to pick up my Locally Grown order, an almost weekly ritual for a year now. When I ordered last week, I wrote a message to each grower that I would like for the item to be packaged in something other than plastic, and if that was not possible or available to please remove the item from my order. I sent it to each grower with my item order as well as with my overall order. When the volunteer brought me my order...all plastic bags! heart totally sunk. I walked straight to the pay spot not having any idea what I would/should do, but ultimately had to get out of line and talk to LG's owner, a man I have found to be amazing and inspiring. He was very surprised that the growers had not seen and acted on my message and said that I could leave the items and ask that they be removed from my total amount due. Really, I just felt like a loser. Everyone at LG appeared to understand what I was saying, especially because I clearly asked that the item be removed if only plastic was available for packaging, but it just seemed so wrong that I was sticking them with my plastic bagged food to hopefully be able to sell off by the end of the night. I timidly sat the items on the table with the extras and wrote my check for my glass jars of salsa, jam, and olive and goat cheese salad topping (with no lettuce). This is where I learn and grow lots from this experience.

Tonight's experience made me realize that this adventure stretches my mind. Maybe a plastic alternative is just not possible for this haven of amazing locally grown food I have found and enjoy. It may not be in anyone's best interest for me to give that up in order to save the world and my family from the toxins of plastic. I long to directly support farmers and the local economy. It is no problem to get my produce without a bag from the grocery store...or bring my own cloth...but I have little knowledge of or connection with that food and certainly not to its growers. I can also shop at the Farmer's Market and bring my own packaging, but not year round and not weekly (due to working on some Saturday morns). So, a compromise probably needs to be reached.

For now, I will look forward to the month that we journey into eating only locally grown food and probably pay Locally Grown back far more than I may have taken from them tonight. Actually, for now, I will enjoy the sound of my amazing husband baking something for me from scratch for a little treat before bed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Victory and the No Plastic Lifestyle!

Today was such a great day for not using plastic and helped me to feel like I am well on my way to making this a lifestyle. I went to bed last night with anxiety about finding what I needed to make snack and a bread recipe for our Waldorf preschool co-op. Our snack consists of fruit, cheese, and nuts, and I envisioned the sea of nuts in plastic bags at my usual grocery store stop and the impossibility of finding cheese in a plastic alternative. The bread recipe did not seem so hard except that I would have to figure out an alternative to buttermilk and was low on honey. I have not been able to find milk with no plastic top or spout, so I did not even have the comfort of knowing I could mix vinegar and milk for use as buttermilk.

At the end of the day, even after leaving my bags and containers at home, I walked in the door with everything I would need for preschool and no plastic whatsoever. apples-no bag, sugar, flour, baking soda (all in paper), organic creamer- just to be safe since i have not seen it anywhere else in all paper. They had loose peanuts to self scoop, but I had not brought my containers and felt too embarrassed to carry in my fast food paper bag from lunch. I had no luck with the honey. There was one glass jar with a plastic seal.

Earthfare...honey in a glass jar with no plastic seal on the top, peanuts from the bulk bins in my friend's container (met her there for dinner), AND.....buttermilk with no plastic. The same brand (Organic Valley) of milk, cream, egg nog, etc had a plastic spout, but the buttermilk did not! I could not believe it. I also got a chunk of cheddar cheese from the deli and asked them to wrap it in paper. I carried it all proudly out of the store with my leftover dinner in their fairly new paper take out containers.

I am finding alternatives and starting to really want to live this way for lots longer than this month!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mountain Mama

I could write forever about the joy and peace that has come from spending time with friends in the mountains this weekend. I just unzipped my suitcase, and the most amazing smell of pine came over me...the smell of our incredibly beautiful cabin on the side of a mountain overlooking a vast array of colorful trees and continuing mountain tops. The trip was rich and beautiful in all aspects...well, almost all.

Not consuming plastic this weekend was no small challenge and did not feel beautiful or rich, however looking back now, I think it truly could be described as such. Our first meal, at a local barbeque place, was served on plastic plates with styrofoam cups. It was hard for me to realize this, and after I had already placed my order, head back up to the counter to try to figure out if I could use the sandwich box for my barbeque pork plate. I described why I was making the request as a "project," and the older gentleman rolled his eyes and said that my "professor" sounded like "Al Gore." Interesting. I do not even feel like going into what happened with the cup, but in the end, I think it may have gotten thrown away. It was such a disappointment, but I was determined not to let that throw me off my course. I sat down and ate barbeque with my fingers.

Syrup and half and half proved to be my only significant challenges during our shopping trip. Not being able to find coffee creamer of any type without plastic was an incredible disappointment. Coffee with creamer when I got home today has never tasted so good! I am so grateful for the Private Selection organic creamer (Kroger brand) with no plastic spout. The syrup aisle adventure was all of us handling syrup bottles to try to find glass at a decent price. I decided to just buy the maple syrup in the glass bottle we usually use, but since it cost lots more than the Mrs. Butterworth types, I would purchase it separately and take it home (since we were splitting the cost of groceries). Thank goodness, Julie pointed out that the top on the maple syrup was plastic. Back on the shelf it went and in went the cheap plastic stuff into the cart. I used butter and honey I brought from home on my pancakes the next morning, which was a wonderfully yummy discovery. Buying the canned cinnamon rolls with the plastic icing container and the break and bake cookies wrapped in plastic was not anywhere near as hard as when they were baking and I was having to get mentally prepared for not eating any. Toast with butter was not the same, and I sure did appreciate the compassionate sigh I got from my best friend sitting on my right as she realized why I was eating toast (bread I brought from home).

So...I am doing it! What a great accomplishment. I am making small differences. As I ate my pretzels and corn chips and almonds and bread with peanut butter and honey this weekend, all bought locally (without plastic), I thought about how not buying plastic has led me to spend my money in ways I value greatly as well as making a lighter impact on the environment and the lives of others. Of course that is more beautiful and rich than eating sun chips and lunch meat in deli ziploc bags and cinnamon rolls with my friends.

Oh...and watch out for the roumelade sauce with your crab's probably coming on the plate in a plastic cup. Also, keep silverware with you. Plastic forks are everywhere and even just eating a piece of cake with your hands will attract those people who clearly have a "why doesn't that woman get a fork?" look.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Cabinets are...Strange.

I am going on a trip to the mountains this weekend with friends and decided I would go out hunting for possibilities of food to take with me to eat rather than force all of my friends to not buy plastic on our grocery store outing upon arriving. So...I had some great finds. I got...

Daily (local grocery store/co-op): peanut butter that I could scoop into my own container, a bunch of delicious looking apples, 2 dark chocolate balls wrapped in earth looking foil for the kiddos, and biobags for $1 more than on, but without having to pay shipping.
Earth Fare: feta and spinach chicken sausage wrapped in paper for Tim to make while I am out of town, yogurt covered pretzels, star cookies, almonds, and sesame sticks from the bulk bins scooped into my own containers (store provides plastic bags), and coffee I ground straight into my own container, as the paper bags provided appeared to be lined with plastic. I also saw that illy makes coffee in a metal container with a metal lid and metal seal, but it is more expensive than I was planning to spend. Earth Fare was happy to read my #s off the many containers I sat on the counter and take off some ounces for the extra weight.

Tomorrow, I'll be close to the Granary again and will get bread and some other things to fill out the meal/snack menu for several more days. My big bag of containers is already packed to put in the car in the morning. I'm looking forward to connecting with those people again. I am amazed that just the act of not using plastic has given me a closer connection to my food as well as the people I come into contact with surrounding it.

My cabinets are more full now...and very strange. Smart balance container of peanut butter, old deli containers of snacks, peanut container of coffee, glass leftover storage with pretzels. Bare in lots of spots. I could get used to the diversity, careful choosing, and lack of brand names I see.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Granary

I made a trip to The Granary in Watkinsville today and met the really neat couple who own the place. I explained our adventure for the month and was met with wonderful excitement to fulfill all the needs they were able without using plastic. We brainstormed and talked and laughed and decided that they could empty some of the items into paper bags (and just refill the bags with no trouble), put my bread and any other baked goods into paper, and that I would bring containers from home for the food items that needed something other than paper. I am just so excited to be bringing them my business while feeling totally respected and secure on this crazy adventure!

Tim, on the other hand, did not have a wonderful day going without plastic. His text from a restaurant today reads: "I think it would be best to pack a lunch. I'll have to do that if we want to go out Thursday. Kind of taking a long time and hard to avoid plastic and everyone wants to sit beside me. the to go box is a dilemma- if we do eat out, we need to have a container in the car." He took the kids to ride a couple of rides at the fair across from the restaurants and reported that the funnel cake came on a paper plate, and they all skipped the fork. The man is such an amazing husband and is committed to being on this adventure with me. He's actually a great writer too, and I would love for him to post here once a week or so. hmmm...

We all shelled butter beans from Locally Grown tonight. It was the perfect night time activity with two little ones. It got me dreaming of the month we go without TV and hoping for many more nights at the little wooden table Tim had growing up "shelling beans" with my kids.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Small Coffee...No Lid

"Small cafe au lait with sugar and no plastic lid please," I ordered at a local coffee shop drive through. When the barista repeated my order, I reminded her again that I wanted it without a top. What appears before my eyes at the window...a small paper coffee cup...WITH a plastic lid. "Can you please take off the top and reuse it for someone else's cup?" She responded with "sure" and I saw her putting the top back on the stack as I drove away. Being positive I was about to acquire second degree burns from the hot coffee filled to overflowing, I quickly opened the door and poured some out before I turned out of the parking lot. Good reminder to put my cup in the car!!!

I had a great conversation with the kids about not buying plastic and why and how that would affect them at Subway tonight. Isaac appeared to be excited by the challenge, and although I had only talked about not buying chips at Subway because of the plastic bag, he went on to explain that he would also not be able to have milk or apple juice. I guess one simple conversation with child like explanations of the yuckiness of plastic is exactly what the kiddos needed. Isaac was offered a chip by his friend at dinner and responded that he could not have anything from plastic. Later, he did ask if he could have a "tiny one," and thank goodness, the offer still stood.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Plastic Life

Today is day 1 of my year long project to spend each month examining and making a radical change in one area of my life. This month, I have decided to examine my plastic life. I have plastic in each room of my house, in every closet and drawer, and decorating my fridge and cabinets as it contains the food I feed myself and my family. I have already reduced the plastic in our life through wooden toys, cloth grocery bags, and glass food storage, etc., but this will be a time for me to purchase absolutely ZERO plastic. I will have to do without or find an alternative. This month will force me to deal with the most challenging plastic in my life. Addicted to Plastic, a documentary that just showed at the Athens Eco Focus Film Festival, left me more informed of the dangers and negative affects of plastic in my own life as well as others all over the world and inspired me to make a huge change in my convenient plastic lifestyle.

Day 1- I found myself cringing this morning while serving yogurt out of a plastic container and bread from a plastic bag for breakfast, mostly due to my knowledge that these items would run out soon and I would need to find alternatives, either for the plastic or the breakfast items all together. The second challenge for the day came after walking into church and seeing a huge cake on a table. I planned it out with Tim, my husband, that we would hand the cake cutter a napkin, and kindly ask for a piece of cake. Upon leaving the church service, there were tables set up with wonderfully sliced pieces of cake on plastic plates with plastic forks. The cake had been cut and I quickly realized I would be doing without. My 2 and 4 year olds had a delayed reaction to their lack of cake consumption, which included Kendall screaming all the way to one of her favorite fast food restaurants, "I want cake!" Her realization and my headache came right before I also realized that I would not be getting coffee when we went to dinner at McDonald's due to the styrofoam cup and my neglect to put a coffee mug in the car for this very reason. Although great fun, eating with friends at McDonald's proved to be a small challenge, with no order of our usual apples (plastic bag) or apple juice (plastic straw) or milk (plastic container) and also taking the barbeque sauce (plastic) I requested from the employee before my husband gently reminded me that I was about to carry off 2 small plastic sauce containers. We handed them back and then said a short prayer that the water cups I requested would be paper. Let me just say that the crying and fussing over wanting milk and a "horse" (no happy meals!) both at the restaurant and especially in the car afterwards almost made me pull my hair out. This leads me to examine our lifestyle of overpriced mini milk jugs and happy meal toys and their impact on my children as well as others and the environment. I have a feeling we will be having a family meeting soon and staying home more than usual this month.