What does a year’s worth of plastic look like?

Like this:

Condensed version

Condensed version

Expanded version

Expanded version

It has been 365 days of saving every bag and bottle, lid and wrapper, tube and straw.

What did we learn from a year’s worth of plastic?

1. Plastic is EVERYWHERE.  And it can be quite sneaky too.  Straws would sneak their way into water at restaurants.  Plastic stickers are all over the place (see below).  Safety seals are apparently necessary on everything from pills to honey and oil bottles.  Despite our best efforts, our pile unavoidably grew.

Plastic stickers from produce and clothes

Plastic stickers from produce and clothes

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22 Almond milks

22 Almond milks

2. We have a sweet tooth for salty snacks.  As two busy commuters and hummus enthusiasts, we went through about a bag of chips per week.  Pictured below are the oddly beautiful 56 chip bags we extricated from our annual accrual.

Hummus, cheese, and other bins

Hummus, cheese, and other bins

3. Our communities need more local bakers!  It looked like by far the bulk of the volume we created (when uncompressed) was bread bags.  We didn’t have the time to bake our own and we did not want to go bread-less.  Try as we might, we could not find a good, local bread source were we could pick up our bread plastic free.

4. There is SO much we can do to reduce our plastic footprint!  This year we invested in stainless steel ice trays, bamboo utensils, glass straws, soap nuts, Glasslock tupperware, and Cuppows.  I sewed homemade produce bags and napkins that we wash and reuse.  We now dilute our dish soap and prolong the life of one bottle for months longer than we formerly could.  We quit ‘pooing (resulting in by far our most popular post of the year, check it out here) and now use baking soda and vinegar to wash our hair.  We made our own household cleaners and soy milk, and grew vegetables in our garden.  This project was an inspirational catalyst for change, and we are excited to keep up these plastic-reducing habits and keep searching for ways to support local businesses that promote a zero-waste lifestyle.  This may be the end of our plastic hoarding, but it is just a part of our lifelong learning journey.  Cheers, may the adventure continue!

Happy New Years!

Kim, Brandon and Titan

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Week 14: Food Truck Fail

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-2 HUGE Polystyrene to-go food containers (plastic FAIL of the week)
-1 Coffee Bag
-1 Pasta Bag
-3 Bread Bags
-1 Tempeh Package
-1 Frozen Fruit Package
-1 Garbanzo Bean Flour Bag
-2 Cheese Wrap
-1 Empty Tape Dispenser
-1 Nyquil Bottle
-1 Produce Bag
-5 Lids
-4 Stir Straws
-4 Misc. Films
-3 Kale Ties
-2 Safety Seals
-3 To-Go Condiment Cups
-1 Fork
-1 Small Chip Bag
-Misc. Bits and Pieces

Look in the top right corner and you will see this week’s epic plastic FAIL: 2 GIGANTIC polystyrene take-out food containers…

We do not go out to eat much.  First of all, we love to cook, especially together.  As I type Brandon is seasoning some kale chips, chopping asparagus, and pre-heating the oven for some sustainably farmed tilapia filets… I am one lucky girl :O) But who doesn’t love a meal out? Unfortunately, it can be hard for us to find a spot we like.  We often leave restaurants feeling like we could have made a better meal at home, and we don’t like to support big corporate chains that oust local businesses out of our communities.  Often, plastic sneaks its way into our lives as straws and side containers for salsa.  Our thoughtful ingredient choices are not supported by the average, meat laden menu.  And eating at home is so much cheaper, especially if you are fond of enjoying a crisp micro-brewski with your meal like we are.  Alas, eating out is a rare event for us.

Sometimes it can’t be helped.  That’s what happened to me the other day.  I found myself at BU before Tap into Boston’s Sustainability Network (where I was a guest speaker) hungry and unfamiliar with the area.  Dunkin donuts.  Starbucks.  Some scetchy pizza place… no no no, this wont do… but what’s that??! A food truck! Oh I do love the food truck movement.  I say bring on the food trucks.  It gives small businesses a way to compete for business without the pressure of renting property in Boston.  It allows startups to compete with established corporate chains.  Now local businesses can appeal to our obsession with convenience, food on the go, and variety.  I get seriously excited when I see a new food truck in the area, most that I’ve tried have been great!

This truck was the Baja Taco Truck.  I began to scope the place out, starting with the menu.  I instantly respect a place that offers more than 2 vegetarian options, and this truck did not disappoint.  Beans, guac, toatadas, count. me. in.  But not so fast, how is it served?  I stood back and watched the trendy BU students order.  The big plates came out in giant plastic packages, but everything else seemed to be handed out on a small paper boat.  I went for it, ordering 2 small tostadas, never dreaming they would put them in polystyrene!  My heart dropped as I received my meal.  The service was excellent and the food delicious, but I could not believe they put such a small amount of food, that was going to be eaten immediately, is such large packaging that is going to outlive me.  Just tragic.

To end this post on a positive note, allow me to give a shout out to my FAVORITE food truck: Clover!  If you have not tried Clover yet, your life is seriously lacking.  They have trucks all over the place, my most frequent stop being the one outside South Station.  Why is Clover awesome?

1. I can eat EVERYTHING on the menu.  Their food is locally sourced, organic, vegetarian, and made from scratch.  They have a whole section of their website dedicated to their food philosophy, how could you not love them?!?! They boast that 90% of their customers in Cambridge are non-vegetarian, they are THAT good.

2. The food is FREEKING DELICIOUS!  Fresh food is always tastier.  Clover makes everything fresh in the morning.  The corn fritters I ordered last week were literally fried to order (meaning you have to wait a couple minutes, but it is SO worth it.  They drizzle them with maple syrup and they taste like corn embellished french toasty bites!).  Every sandwich I have tried there has been delightful: chick pea fritters, soy BLT, egg and eggplant (sounds weird, but I seriously LOVED it).  Add on a delicious brewed-to-order coffee, or a chilled hibiscus tea, and your day will be MADE.

3. They are affordable.  Coffee is $2.  Sandiwiches are $6.  Everything is simple, in whole dollar amounts.  Portions are filling and nutritious.  Even a non-profit employee like me can afford this.

4. Everything they hand you is 100% compostable.  You will never get a gigantic polystyrene package from them.

5. The service is excellent.  Dylan, who takes my order, learned my name (and I don’t even go there often) He is ALWAYS smiling when I get there.  He was the one who originally told me to get a Cuppow, my wonderfully, locally-made lid that turns a mason jar into a travel mug! The people who work there make me as happy as the food!  Stopping by the Clover food truck will inevitably brighten your day in so many ways.

So next time you walk by a Clover food truck, stop by and try the french fries :O)

I must go, dinner awaits. Yum!

Another delicious homemade meal :O)

Another delicious homemade meal :O)

Still Buzzin!

Last week’s coffee post got a whole lot of buzz, and in our home we are buzzing with delight at the overwhelming response to our post!  To follow up I want to post links to 2 videos just released by Equal Exchange about helping establish a coffee co-operative in Peru.  These co-ops unite farmers and give them the ability to export their product without going through deal brokers and commercial managers.  This company deals directly with farmers, empowering them and supporting sustainable, organic practices.  Cheap coffee has hidden costs, Equal Exchange coffee is worth every penny.  The video is well done, so press yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

Equal Exchange Peru Video Part One

Equal Exchange Peru Video Part Two

I also want to share my choice in travel mug.

CUPPOW!

CUPPOW!

The Cuppow turns a canning jar into a travel mug!  Check out their awesome video here!

What is great about this?

1. It is easy to clean.

2. The glass jar is heat resistant and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals that can leach into your beverage like plastic does.

3. It’s cheap! The Cuppow costs $7.99.  Jars are less than $20 for a dozen, and are super useful in the kitchen even if you are not pickling! We use them to store everything from leftovers to produce, and now we use them as travel mugs!

4. It seals tight and doesn’t leak.

5. The Cuppow lid is phalate and BPA free.

AWESOME!

It comes in different sizes and styles, including a sippy top for hot beverages and a straw top for cold beverages.

The glass jar does heat up, but we found that a beer koozie fit quite snuggly, you can search and buy them online (like these ones I found on Etsy) or, if you are crafty like me, you can knit yourself one!

YUM!

YUM!

and I leave you with the picture that made my day :O) Raccoons and foxes make my heart melt.

I am a puddle.