Tuesday, March 24, 2009

keep your head above water

I am drowning in the sea of plastic consumerism!!!
I try, I try, I cannot escape.
I have fallen off the bandwagon this past week. Cheese wrappers, baking powder lid, bag of chips, cereal bag, 2L of pepsi with my pizza. Ugh!
Is there a plastic confessional i can go to?
I am ashamed. I wonder if my other LNPB com padres have been takin' over as well...
I shall be back with more promising motivation...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MASS represent!


Plastic or paper? Maybe neither

Grocers to promote alternatives, recycle

Environmental officials and the owners of hundreds of supermarkets throughout the state are expected to sign an agreement today to reduce by a third the plastic and paper bags the grocers distribute in Massachusetts.

The pact would mark the first statewide effort to control the billions of bags that end up as litter everywhere from tree branches to beach fronts.

The five-year plan, devised as state lawmakers and municipalities have proposed bans or charges for the disposable bags, aims to cut the number of bags provided at supermarkets and grocery stores from the estimated 1.5 billion a year today to 1 billion a year in 2013. The reductions will come from a combination of incentives for customers to recycle old bags and from closer state scrutiny of bag purchases by supermarkets.

But environmental groups and lawmakers who favor more sweeping action argued that the voluntary reduction is not enforceable and leaves a massive number of plastic bags still flowing out of supermarkets.

"While it's a good start, it's not enough," said James McCaffrey, director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. "We should be able to get to zero."!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The agreement, which is to be signed this morning at Shaw's Supermarket in Dorchester, calls for stores to reduce their use of disposable bags by offering customers incentives to bring in used bags, setting up stations near checkout counters where customers can recycle old bags, and requiring supermarkets to provide data to state officials about the number of bags they buy and distribute every year.

State officials said the agreement would allow supermarkets to provide creative incentives, such as coupons to customers who bring in old bags or paying them up to a five cents for each bag they reuse. The state also plans to help train checkout clerks in the art of packaging and the sale of inexpensive nylon or canvas reusable bags.

She added the main advantage of the agreement - which will include supermarkets such as Shaw's, Stop & Shop, Market Basket, Big Y, Foodmaster, Roche Brothers, and Hannaford Brothers - is that bag reduction efforts will begin right away.

Countries including Ireland, South Africa, and China have cracked down on the free distribution of plastic bags, leading to a sharp reduction in the number of bags in circulation, according to the Institute. San Francisco in 2007 became the first major US city to ban plastic grocery bags, and officials in Seattle, Phoenix, and Portland, Ore., have considered similar policies.

In Massachusetts, efforts to ban plastic bags have cropped up in Boston, Sturbridge, and in Plymouth, where Walmart and other businesses strongly lobbied against the policies.

On Beacon Hill, state Senator Brian A. Joyce, a Milton Democrat, filed legislation last year that would charge a two-cent fee that would gradually increase to 15 cents for each plastic bag used. Representative Matt Patrick, a Falmouth Democrat, sponsored a bill this year that would prohibit plastic bags, except those that are biodegradable or used for fresh produce, baked goods, and a few other things.

Patrick said he proposed the bill after seeing the plastic bags as he walked along the beach and learned how the bags can choke birds and other wildlife, which often mistake them for food.

"It's not acceptable to have billions of plastic bags in our rivers, streams, oceans, and all over our streets," he said.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com.

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BagShare is sheer Brilliance!

BagShare and how it works?
Volunteers work together to produce reusable cloth bags.

Baskets of these bags are kept at participating shops (and library) patrons borrow a bag if they need one.

The bag is then returned to that location or another BagShare location for another to use.

Community Bag Sews (sewing circles) are organized by volunteers, materials and machines are donated by individuals and local businesses.

The BagShare Project was started in Western Massachusetts but we hope the idea will spread to other communities.


Bah Humbug

Not even a month into it and i'm discouraged already. the world is swimming in plastic. it is so disheartening. i go to pick up some environmentally sound cat litter, Feline Pine, and lo and behold, what's it wrapped in? knarly green plastic. ?!?!?! I pick up my meds, plastic. I order a plastic free item, mailed in plastic. I am trying! My wife, however, was able to shed some light. She offered that my mission may not be to avoid plastic and be done with it. maybe my plan should be contacting these companies and letting them know that their packaging just won't do. She really is my most brilliant and trusted advisor in life. So along with my family, my business and my life duties, I will vow to write one letter a week to a company letting them know my destain.

Friday, March 13, 2009

running a business

it must be done. some things are just needed for this business. ink must be put in the printer (cartridge recycled) , paper needs to be used for business cards (recycled) and batteries have to be put in the camera (minimal packaging). i can't say i'm proud of my setbacks but this experience is a giant learning journey. what we can live without and what we can live around and what we can get in another form. I own an extrodinarily green business already. what is reasonable? purchasing recycled paper wrapped in plastic or buying the huge 10,000 sheets of tree killing paper just because it comes in cardboard? please, tell me. seems like sometimes the choices end up being "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

i need to research online and get some recycled paper that comes wrapped in paper.
feel free to email any suggestions to lousupcycles@gmail.com at any time, about any of these products. this is a learning thing!

off the tally page, again. i hope i can keep this list down. i think im doing remarkably well!

Monday, March 9, 2009

all about the food

seems that i only encounter plastic dilemmas when it has to do with food. probably because i don't get all consumer-y with other things. all my clothes are used, i use the same shoes for years, i get my music online, i don't collect anything (except other people's trash) and there aren't a lot of material things i acquire. i had my first grocery trip to the co-op since my pledge started. they really make it easy there. i got my grains, coffee, tofu, snacks, rice, flour, sugar and spices all in glass jars which i can return to get my deposit back. there's a wall of them, all different sizes, that get re-washed and re-used. i did have to use a plastic bag for the bulk tofu but it was a reusable one that i had used before...

this plastic avoidance is really helping me on so many levels. saving money, eating better, making me think about the things i really need, reeling me in from impulse buying, and making me just feel lighter with the choices i make.

this morning i was able to get a pound of coffee and three bagels without any waste! the coffee came in a tin which i'll use in the kitchen and the bagels were wrapped in foil. we can do this people!!

the only thing i will miss is cheese. my daughter and i brainstormed about how we could get around this one... we came up with heading to the local farm and seeing if we can buy off the farm and wrap in paper or bring our own packaging. luckily, and blessedly, we live in western mass where there are farms all over the place! let you know how that turns out.

eventually, i am going to have to head down to northampton to the joann fabrics store. i run a business here yall. i have spent many hours researching how to acquire sewing machine needles without plastic. i put my ads on craigs list and freecycle to no avail. i think my karma will be okay because of all the plastic that lou's upcycles is saving from landfills. needles and thread cones is a small price to pay for my otherwise stringent business/advocacy.

Heading to an elementary school on wed. to spread the message to kids. can't wait!

all for now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Running Tally

Let's just keep a list, shall we? I will update this very infrequently, if all goes well...

- prescription bottle
- saran over new fangled deordorant
- taco bell cheese sauce lid
- lid for toothpaste - argh! i forgot about that!
- plastic wrap around printer paper
- plastic around batteries
- printer ink cartridges (empty ones recycled)
- cellophane that my new credit card slips came in
- credit card imprint machine

Well, we are still in good shape if there's only enough plastic purchased to list in one place...

Taco Bell a.k.a. it's the little things

i realize that i actually already live quite a plastic free life. maybe it's because i work from home and don't have to battle my way thru commutes, offices, take out lunches and work parties. maybe it's because i have already re-sensitized myself to the world of plastic. i am just subconsciously making better choices. i do find that it's the little things. the coffee cup lid, the straw, the little plastic cup that the nacho cheese comes in at taco bell. yes, i admit to my cravings. and three other's today i might add. lo and behold i find myself amongst four starving people only one of which can turn empty cupboards into a meal with grace and dignity. the rest of us couldn't wait to drizzle the mild sauce all over our tortillas. but the journey to decide was only half over.

i am offically on the list of the top 5 strangest customers that walked into the bell today, or ever maybe. i had them make all the tacos, mexican pizzas, and mexi melts in the foil wrappers, put the chips in a brown bag, fill the cheese sauce into a paper cup, leave the lid off the soda and pack the whole thing to-go in a box. it was during a rush too. woah, i got some looks. luckily, i am super polite in restaurants as i have put in 15 yrs. in the biz myself. their looks would not deter me. it was either break new ground or no taco bell. don't get between me and my lunch people.

i got away with the whole thing with the exception of one thing. they snuck in a plastic lid on the cheese sauce. curses! foiled - or plasticed - again! i think they did it to spite me.

i think im off the hook. i pulled a fast food power play today. i deserve my cheese sauce dammit.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Where it all started

1955 - Life Magazine. After the war. No more scrimping, saving. Now mom can save time. Everyone can have leisure time now! Just throw it away!

50 years later. There is no such thing as away.

This blog entry is quoted from Sea of Consequences
"Check out the photo... makes you wanna go "WOOHOO!!" (though actually BOOHOO is more appropriate)
Seemed like a good idea at the time. Fewer dishes to wash. The 1950's, a post WWII time of phenomenal growth in this country, hand in hand with growth came the mass production of single-use disposable plastics. And why not-- just throw the junk away.

Problem with "throwaway" though, 50 years later- there is no more "away." Too many people and too much stuff. Think about it - every plastic fork, knife, spoon, cup, plate and tray in this picture continues to exist, and will do so for the next... ohhhh.... 500-1,000 years. Teaching children to cross the street we say
We need to do similar - 1,000 years of floating around the ocean for a plastic knife to make a ham and mayo sandwich -

my thoughts exactly.

Addicted to plastic

Went to this showing last night. Geesh. I already have been pretty educated on the subject but wow. When are we going to wake up. Everyone! should see this movie. Twice.

Here's a few facts that stuck with me:
- there are approx. 46, 000 pieces of plastic per sq. mile in the ocean
- the ratio of plastic pieces to plankton in the ocean is approx. 10:1 !!!

I was able to learn about some amazing companies that are taking action:
Here are some links to problem solving companies: many are large industrial companies but some are smaller companies that need our support and advocacy as consumers.

Tietek: Manufacturer of composite rail ties made from recycled plastic, waste tires, waste fiberglass, and structural mineral fillers.

Agri-plas: Agricultural plastic recycling, including pots, trays, greenhose film and pesticide containers.

Pantagoina: fleece into product line made from post consumer recycled plastic soda bottles.

Interface Cool Blue Carpeting: carpet is recycled into new carpet backing
*** the company runs on methane gas from the local landfill!! ***

my favorite** Wastaway: takes unsorted household garbage and converts it into a product called Fluff®, which can then be easily used in a variety of other ways.

my other favorite: Bagsnaggers: first and only tool ever designed specifically to remove plastic bags and other debris from trees.

look them up and support them!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prescriptions, Cat Litter, Eating Out

picked up my prescriptions today. in a plastic bottle. i am absolutely willing to accept any form of karmic retribution based on today's plastic purchase. CVS just doesn't have eco-friendly containers and frankly, i care to live. However, i will under these circumstances, take a strike one.

my hypothesis is that i will find a few other "must do it"s down the road. i am interested to see how many and what they are for.

Cat Litter:
in other choice news, the dog food and cat litter i had to buy at 9 last night because everything was closed was wrapped in paper with wax inside. at least my lack of pre-planning didn't cost me anything... for the next round, i plan on using:

Feline Pine: made of compressed wood, it makes the air smell like pine, not pine-sol but like you are takin' a hike through the forest.

A seven pound bag should last for four weeks. As it’s used, the litter pellets break down into saw dust. After scooping, the dust can be composted, or used as mulch.

Feline Pine is relatively inexpensive - around five bucks for a one month supply.

There are a ton! of options for different types of natural litter. "google it" baby.
You'll also find soooo many recipes for homemade litter. here's one of my favorites. haven't tried it though.

Curteosy of: Allie's Answers

  1. Shred newspaper in a paper shredder. I collect the shredded paper in an unused litter box.
  2. Soak the paper in warm water mixed with a few squirts gentle, biodegradable dish soap (like Ecover ). The shredded paper takes on a cooked oatmeal consistency. The paper won’t come completely clean, but the water will turn grey.
  3. Drain the water (an old colander works wonders) and repeat the soaking process minus the soap.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda liberally on the wet paper. Knead it in to the mixture (you might want to wear gloves to avoid getting ink on your hands).
  5. Squeeze the remaining moisture out until it’s as dry as you can get it.
  6. Crumble over a screen and leave to dry (it takes a few days).

Once it’s dry, I put about an inch and a half to two inches of the paper crumbles in the litter box, scoop solids daily and change it once a week. It takes about a half an hour to 45 minutes to make a 2-3 week supply of litter, and it’s kind of fun, in an elementary school art project way.

With the exception of a few cents worth of baking soda, it’s free. I use the circular newspapers and Pennysavers (make sure to remove staples) that come to our house. The baking soda does a good job of controlling odor, and it doesn’t track very much. I think it actually works better than most of the store bought products I’ve tried.

Subway Craving:

heading out to a meeting last night i remembered i hadn't eaten most of the day. happens a lot when im working on my upcycles. i look up from the sewing machine and realize that food, water, and the bathroom are essential minimalist needs.

im already on my way; pre-planning didn't happen again. NOTE TO SELF. PLAN AHEAD, PLAN AHEAD, PLAN AHEAD!

Subway called my name. a-ha! i can get a foot long on one of those paper thingys... no need for take out plastic, yes! a girl has to eat...

success! although i had to coach them through it, those young workers didn't know what to make of me. i got them to leave it on their serving paper and just hand it to me. i think the girl short circuited when she couldn't do her conveyor line behavior of the wax paper wrapping, napkin and into the plastic bag. she finally gave in. after informing me that i would have to be careful as to not drop it on my way out. aparently she doesn't know how tightly i hold my food.

i really need to make a little explanatory card or something to let people know why i torture them so. (on recycled paper of course).

the day ends well. one strike (however unfair) and one full belly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How to stir coffee on a road trip

Hit the road for a 2 hour journey today to RI. i was proud of my planning ahead skills. packed my nalgene water bottle (plastic but reusable), coffee mug, a plate, fork, knife, spoon and cloth napkin. now, road trips and fast food go hand in hand in my world. i was curious to see how this would end. knowing me, and if you know me, i planned against starving myself in the name of plastic restriction. i packed a meal to go so that i could just rock that instead of paying way to much for a bunch of disposal trash. needless to say i got hungary 5 minutes into my trip and knew that a stop somewhere off the mass pike was necessary.

On the return trip, i made the inevitable pit stop. Boston Market. but who can resist their mac n' cheese?!?! I took my plate in fully knowing that there was no way their health department standards wouldn't let them serve on a personal plate but i have to try. they laughed. then i asked them if they had an alternative to plastic on which they could serve me. they bluntly said no. not sorry. not let me check. but no. well, okay, have a good evening. thus concludes my hope for cheesy goodness.

At least i brought my coffee cup to get a liquid dinner. coffee in, vanilla flavor-product in, milk in. now to stir... uh, plastic stir sticks. after looking at the mug, then the stirrers, then the mug again, i just passed it by, waiting till i got to the car, then stirred my coffee with my pen. yes folks, this is the new me, the problem solver me, the plan-B me. i can do this. think outside the plastic box.

luckily gas isn't plastic because i wouldn't have gotten home.

brushin' teeth and smellin' good

First, I'll start with the toothpaste and deodorant that i recently purchased from artisans on Etsy. I bought a natural, plastic packaging free deodorant from:

Black Sheep Apothecary and Andrine C. Olson - http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=14196540 for $6.50.

This is the beginning of my nail biting. I only buy this stuff in the grocery store if it's on sale for a buck! Gee, how to save the world and be stingy at the same time, we'll see. It's mentioned that I might just have this deodorant well into the summer, in that case it's worth the money. Wrapped in brown paper, uses ingredients directly from the earth, not created in a lab,
Directions: Then, after you bathe, run your little chunk of Happy Pits under the faucet briefly, to moisten it. Rub it lightly across your underarms and return it to its container. You’ll have a little residue on your fingers – just rinse them briefly. Then rub whatever oil is left on your fingertips into your knees or elbows – they’re always happy to get a little extra moisturizing.

Hmmm. Can't wait to test drive this thing.

I also purchased toothpowder. yes, it's the new paste.
Peppermint Himalayan Toothpowder (4oz amber Jar) (Natural Tooth Whitener) Fluoride and Sulphate Free


comes in an amber jar...
--"I take a spoon with me in the bathroom take out 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of tooth powder and get your toothbrush wet and rub toothbrush in the powder.(Do not dip wet brush in jar powder will start to cake).Then brush normally. Xylitol has been found to reduce even existing cavities. Himalayan salt is great for your gums to fight bacteria they both do that. Organic Clovebud & Orange essential oil is great for keep long lasting fresh breath."

sounds easy enough. until then i'm using up my Tom's of Maine and Crest containers...

The pledge Info


WHO: Artists, Performers, Filmmakers, Groups, Families, Community and Governmental Leaders interested in being active, making art, and creating change from the angle of plastic awareness! Videomakers and Musicians are welcome to contribute a square or offer up talents for a special event. Send your proposals!

HOW IT WORKS: The plastic-avoiding & art-creating happens between March and May 2009, with opening events beginning in June 2009. All artists are asked to create a 12 x 12" piece which may initially be displayed separately, then added as part of a large quilt to travel around the city, country, world! See below for specifications.

All artist participants agree to live plastic-free for the same three-month time period. A plastic-free lifestyle challenges you to refrain from purchasing items that are packaged in any sort of single-use plastic, including: to-go coffee lids, plastic cups or cutlery, water, prepackaged foods, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap, utensils...

Any plastic accumulated must not be trashed or recycled curbside. During the course of these three months, artists make squares "inspired" by the collected plastics. Poetry, photography? Put it on the square! Paint it, draw on it, sculpt it (two dimensionally).


VISION: A world without destructive waste

MISSION: Sharply decrease the demand for single-use plastic through creative awareness campaigns and the development of business models that begin from the waste, up.

ABOUT OUR LOGO:In 1970, the packaging industry created the recycling symbol to advertise its reprocessed products. The symbol was commissioned by the Container Corporation of America, and left for the public domain to adopt.

In 1988 the Society of Plastics Industries adopted the chasing arrow symbol, inserting numbers 1-9 at its center. Today this symbol represents plastic types, rather than the utilization of recycled materials in the manufacturing process. These symbols are printed on virtually every plastic package and have come to mean “Please Recycle”.

Leave No Plastic Behind manipulated the symbol by inserting a “?” inside the chasing arrows, questioning:

(1) Who benefits more from the plastic recycling concept, industry or the environment?

(2) Are current recycling rates acceptable?

(3) Why do so few ounces of anything need their own package?

(4) How have we been trained to waste?

(5) What can consumers do to end the time-killing debates on resource efficiency surrounding plastics, including the decades old, “Paper v. Plastic” debate?

Projected inspired by experience and observation as well as Garbageland, by Elizabeth Royte and The Hidden Life of Trash by Heather Rogers

LNPB predictions

So here we are, committed to artistic and environmental awakening. I am taking this pledge because of the need to practice what i preach. i already do an enormous amount to minimize our family's carbon footprint but although i can never do everything, i need to increase my efforts. i can't wait to find out what challenges there are, what new products are offered and in what area i will most improve.

my predictions:
- fast food will become obliterated in my life.
- our family will become "big label" minimalists as the general packaging procedure in major grocery stores is plastic.
- increase in healthy eating due to the nature of the foods that are not wrapped in plastic
- rock on, the fringe/indirect benefit is long term money saving. i believe it might be more money
in the beginning, buying products that are seemingly deemed "specialty items" but i predict it
will save money in the long run.

i will venture to say that i will find some of the coolest green products out there. hopefully i will frequently say "you can make that out of THAT?!"

i can't wait. usually, i am very much against diets, lent, and otherwise limiting behavior. i believe cutting yourself off from things leads to more binging later...

in this case, the rule of plastic moderation is simply creating a trashed world.

time for cold turkey mama!