Life without Plastic

Life without Plastic

The Bigger Picture

Health concerns extend to a wider frame than just our bodies, to include social milieus and the environment, at many different scales.

Over the years Bruce and I have adopted many practices and routines to protect the land, air, and water we and other critters depend on.

We don’t own a car, and haven’t for eight years now. This is relatively easy for us, because we live in a small city, close to Bruce’s office, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, the library, book and craft stores, restaurants, parks, and the theater, lecture, and concert venues Yale offers. So we walk a lot and bike some, and Uber when neither of those are convenient. For less frequent provisioning, day trips, and excursions we use Zipcar, a car-sharing service that is unbelievably inexpensive and convenient. There are a variety of cars available, suitable for almost any use, and parked at lots close to home and office; all it takes is membership and a reservation. For getaways to NYC (Boston, Philadelphia, and D.C.) we take the train, and Uber, Zip, or ride the subway when there. Longer vacations to Maine and New Hampshire require a vehicle, so we rent a car once or twice a year. We increasingly rely on delivery services, which, as aggregators burn less fuel than the sum of individual trips. Target, local supermarkets, and even IKEA now offer home or workplace delivery, as do many, many restaurants. All in all we have reduced our travel carbon footprint by a considerable amount.

In terms of energy consumption, we are making headway. Part and parcel of our home
renovations were thermal windows to limit heat loss, many of them south-facing to let in the winter sun, and shaded by deciduous trees in summer. We converted from an oil burner to a super-efficient Buderus gas burner, which heats the water for our radiators and showers and faucets. And we spent extra money for Miele kitchen and laundry appliances, which are super energy efficient, and outlast any American-made choices by far. They are fifteen years old plus and still going strong, with only two minor service calls among them all!

We compost all of our vegetable and (some) yard waste waste, to lessen the load on landfills. On behalf of our local watershed (which feeds into Long Island Sound) we also use non-toxic products on the lawn and in the garden for pest control: dormant oil, insecticidal soap (homemade!), and beneficial nematodes. I don’t kill spiders, because they kill bugs, and my landscape is welcoming to birds who eat ants! I am thinking about releasing ladybugs this year, as another insect-reducing tactic.

Not having children reduces our impact on the biosphere, geometrically. In my opinion, overpopulation is a big threat to the planet.

My latest initiative is plastic reduction – elimination is just a dream right now. I’d become so conscious of how much we use, and despaired of alternatives that offer the same properties, until I did some research. Here is a list of the practices and products I am considering and experimenting with –

Food Storage
• glass ‘Mason’ jars with stainless steel screw-on lids, for leftovers, soups, unused ingredients. Wide-mouthed and regular. Can be used for freezing.
• stainless steel ice cube trays
• stainless steel airtight containers, for packed lunches, leftovers, and unused ingredients
• bowls with reusable, washable, cotton elasticized tops, for short term storage
• beeswax, parchment paper, and cheese paper, for sandwiches, and bakery items
• cloth bags, for sandwiches, dry leftovers, bakery goods
• paper bags for mushrooms, avocados, potatoes, berries, figs, and pears
• ceramics, for storing raw veggies in water to keep them crisp
• damp cloths for some veggies, like radish, rhubarb, green beans, maybe zucchini and cucumber?
• aluminum foil for salad greens and lettuce, celery, broccoli, maybe cauliflower? Wrap tightly.
• cooking pot – with leftovers straight into the fridge!

Many of these items – and many more! – can be purchased at Life Without Plastic

Other Ideas;
• purchase food, prepared and otherwise, in glass, paper, bamboo, metal, and cloth whenever possible.
• Bring cloth and paper bags to the grocery store for vegetable and fruit transport – after they are weighed, natch.
• buy eggs in cardboard/paper, not foam
• buy meats and cheeses from delis and butchers, and have them wrapped in paper
• make your own yogurt
• bring your own containers to restaurants for leftovers
• carry your own reusable s.steel or ceramic beverage containers
• limit take out food, especially coffee! oh, no this will be hard
• use candles and incense instead of air fresheners
• buy dry laundry detergent in cardboard boxes
• buy bar soap rather than liquid or shower soaps packaged in plastic
• use old fashioned cleaning materials, like baking soda and vinegar
• use cloth – rags and towels – for cleaning
• use paper bags for trash
• buy paper goods (T.P., etc.) wrapped in paper
• bring your own cloth bags to all stores, and cardboard boxes, too, for transporting heavy items
• matches, rather than lighters
• wood, bamboo, or glass cutting boards
• cloth diapers, and cloth toys
• CDs packaged in paper, or downloads
• rechargeable batteries
• use junk mail and newspapers for packing material
• Drive your car, if you own one, into the ground. Don’t buy a new one.

I hope these suggestions work for you, too!


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