Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 23- Foiled by Pho

You like what I did with the alliteration there?

So in general, living plastic free is only as hard as you make it. There are plenty of things that you can get plastic free, it just requires a bit more work. There are things that you cannot get plastic free, so you weep quietly on the inside. And then there are things that I can get plastic free, but they will ellude the Hubs. Case in point: Pho.

First of all, I need to sing the praises of Pho. Have you ever had this stuff? It's almost as delicious as bacon. Pho is a Vietnamese soup that normally comes in a huge bowl with noodles and thin slices of beef.

Like this

There's nothing for scale, but that bowl must be a large as my head, and my head is pretty normal sized. Pho is a wonderful left over from when the French occupied Vietnam, rice noodles in a clear broth that you add basil and siracha to for some kick. Whoops, just drooled on my keyboard. hawt. Generally,  one does not eat Pho at the restaurant, but rather, gets take out. And that's what we did. Getting take out requires significantly more thought now that we are trying to be plastic free, and we didn't think about how to get the Pho home, we just thought about getting it into our bellies. So I arrived home looking forward to Pho, and was greeted by the following scene:

Noodles, meat, onions and cilantro (yeeeck) in a plastic bowl with a plastic lid
Basil, sprouts, lime and basil in a plastic baggie
Broth in a plastic container
All wrapped up in a plastic bag

Times 2.

Sigh.... I about wept. We had been trying so hard to be plastic free, I was the crazy lady who shoveled snow with a mixing bowl because I didn't want to buy a plastic shovel (and it already snowed, what of it?), and NOW?! I have 10 pieces of plastic. So, I have to think about take out some more. And don't worry, I still ate the Pho. As I said before, it's delicious.

We also got ding dongs over the weekend, I remember them as little foil wrapped pucks of chocolate and high fructose corn syrup. But now?  Pucks of chocolate and high fructose corn syrup hermetically sealed in a plastic bag. I guess that's ok though, I haven't eaten a ding dong in years.

The point is, sometimes we are still stumped by everyday things that we haven't thought about. So, more thinking for us!

By the way, did anyone watch How I Met Your Mother last night? My south Pacific garbage patch made an appearance. And it's twice the size of Texas, but 1/8 the size of Canada. Tru Fax.

PPS- I know there are misspellings, I can't get spell check to work. Fret not, I will get it fixed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 19- I like Vinegar... a lot

One of the biggest questions that I've gotten since starting the plastic free life is; how do you get things clean? Most cleaning supplies come in some sort of plastic bottle and I've yet to come across somewhere where I can refill those bottles. I suppose I could revel in filth, but the Hubs said no. So, it's time to find ways around the plastic.

It's been rather interesting finding plastic free stuff. It really does require extra work, and for those of you wondering, no, we haven't found TP yet, we bought normal stuff at the store. The point really is, cleaning stuff should prove to be as difficult right? Well.... not really. I personally don't get the anti-bacterial stuff, so finding alternatives is actually pretty easy. Instead of using commercial cleaning stuff, I use a lot of household things. To wipe the counters down I use hot water with white vinegar. From what I understand, vinegar will disinfect germs and cut grease. And no, the house doesn't smell like vinegar.  The best part is: 1) Vinegar is super cheap and 2) you can get it in glass bottles. The cool thing about vinegar is that you can also throw it in the wash as a fabric softener and it'll keep the colors brighter too! Eat your heart out cheer.

I have lots of leftover bathroom cleaner. I apparently became a bathroom cleaner hoarder sometime before the move, but you can use vinegar there too! I mix it 3 parts water to vinegar and spray down the shower and shower curtain so I don't have mildew or hard water build up. I use that same mix to clean off the counters too. As for the toilet, well, I haven't gotten that far... But I have ideas. Maybe baking soda? There might be a later ode to baking soda.

Oh, and if I have a cold I drink little amounts of apple cider vinegar. I told you... I like vinegar... maybe too much. Vinegar intervention?

Check this website out for more ideas on how cool vinegar is : 100+ vinegar uses

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 15- Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, it's the day of love. The day of flowers and chocolates and quite a polarizing day. Some people love Valentine's day even if they are single, some people hate Valentine's day even if they are in a relationship. Heck, some people hate Valentine's day BECAUSE they are in a relationship. I personally tried to convince Will that he should get a tennis bracelet, as it would be plastic free, but it didn't fly. Humph. OK, I didn't really, but now that I think about it, I should have.

We are actually managing to have a pretty plastic free holiday. I'm making dinner, which is pretty plastic free and then we'll have some wine. And wine, as you may or may not know, comes in glass bottles. SCORE. So on the menu is steak Diane, twice baked taters and chocolate eclairs. Since I made the eclairs, there's no plastic there! I tried to get plastic free steaks, but the butcher just stared at he while I tried to explain it should just be wrapped in paper. Really sir, I don't need a Styrofoam tray and then to have the thing vacuumed sealed. But that was really my only option. Store 1- Carrie 0. This isn't over yet! I shall overcome at the store!

 So while our dinner is pretty low key, I have been looking around at general gifts. Box of chocolates for your lady? Most likely in a pressed plastic holder to keep each bonbon fresh and pretty. Heaven forbid my raspberry cordial touch my caramel creme. And all those flowers come in plastic wrap. So as you can see, diamonds and booze are really the best choices. It really is interesting as I go about my daily life seeing how much plastic there is everywhere. Will will have to battle the dry cleaner soon, and I have to understand that my days of lazing on the couch with bonbons are gone.

I have been getting lots of questions on plastic free cleaning. So next time, I will talk about that. And I have tried the Lush stuff. I like the soap, but am not totally on board with the body lotion.

Have fun tonight! And remember, getting a VD on VD is not a good idea.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 12- Don't Hit the Mall Before Valentine's Day

A few days ago, dear readers, I talked about running out of stuff. I admit, contact solution totally flummoxed me. I did dig through all my suitcases in hope that one of those little travel size bottles might still be there, but I had to go buy more. I currently have the disposable contacts that you are supposed to throw away every two weeks. I throw mine out closer to a month, so hey, I'm trying. So this year, I'm hoping to get hard contacts so I don't have to throw out the little packets that my contacts come in all the time. Maybe one day when we can afford an island, I'll get lasik or something.

I also went to Lush today to get a shampoo bar. The nice lady there attempted to get me to buy one bar that smelled like patchouli, but I don't really want to smell like a hippy, so I got the orange smell instead. I will let you know how it works, but I still have a little shampoo left. Also on my list of dwindling supplies, lotion and soap from Trader Joe's. I replaced some of those today, but I'm hoping that if I go to TJ's they might be able to get the soap sans packaging. Or I could resort to petty theft and pilfer the soap from people.

Also, I discovered today that Chipotle is a totally acceptable take out food. I know they are owned by McDonald's, but I can't help myself! The best part is that if you get it to go, they use tinfoil and give you a bag! A paper bag. So if you avoid the cup and straw, you are good to go.

So for those of you that are keeping track, we've figured out how to make white russians, where we can get fast food, and how to shop at the store. I'm hoping to hit the butcher this weekend to see what our other choices are as well.  Keep it tuned.


Plastic Free Noms

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 10- The Hubs Goes Grocery Shopping

First of all I would like to comment on my comma use, I am aware that I might be possibly abusing commas; I just can't quite get on board with the whole semicolon thing.

I mentioned in my last entry that Will went to the grocery store. Now going to the store is a daunting task and I am waiting for the farmers market to open. So anyway, he went to the store and I figured I would be set for the whole week for food, because you know, that's why one goes to the store, right? I was sadly mistaken. It's Wednesday, and I am about out of food. He did an excellent job of getting red onions and oranges, but I can only eat so many of those before my clients run screaming from my office. This might take a little work. AND he bought kielbasa wrapped in plastic. I wept a little, but in all, I guess he did pretty well. The main thing is really that we are slowly running out of things that we had pre-experiment with plastic. And now it'll become more difficult to find things afterwards.

I personally am a huge fan of Costco, it is important to me to have 64 rolls of toilet paper and 20 of paper towels at all times. If Armageddon does come, I can wipe my counters clean! We are down to 1 roll of toilet paper and 2 rolls of paper towels. The paper towels are such a big deal, I have rags that I can wipe the counters with and wash them afterwards, but the TP might be an issue. Now, if I owned my house, I could install a bidet and then I would be the fanciest person ever, but I somehow doubt the apartment will allow me to add a bidet. They aren't French enough. Bastards. But at work I've spied TP wrapped in paper. So, I wonder if I can get it somewhere in semi bulk. As I said before, I like to have 64 rolls at all times, not 128 rolls. That would just be crazy! So this weekend will be the search for:

1) a house
2) Toilet paper

We also ran out of tea, which we like to have shipped from South Africa, but I did find a tea shop in downtown Annapolis, so I'm hopeful that I can just buy some loose tea and a tea ball. I would prefer the non-clampy one, that thing is terrifying.

So that will be my mission over the next few days. I suppose if push comes to shove, I could get a Sears catalogue or a flat rock. But I would prefer to not head down that path. Let me know if you have any ideas!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 8- Post Superbowl

Sorry I've been gone, I was distracted by the super bowl. And the weekend. Mostly the weekend. Sorry.

I had a very exciting time this weekend, in addition to working on taxes (e-file.... I'm so green) and bring work home, I had to figure out how to make super bowl foods without anything pre-package. Normally, I make delicious meatballs, but I cheat and buy meatballs. I could make the sauce no problem, but I realized I will have to make my own meatballs. This wouldn't be a problem if I owned more than one jelly pan, but I don't. So Saturday night was spent making meatballs. Thus far, I've had the most exciting weekend in history. In addition to the meatballs, we had deviled eggs, chips and salsa and pretzels and dip. The only things in there that had any plastic are the chips (tiny little window) and the pretzels (I was fooled by the cardboard box, damn inside plastic bag!). Not bad right? Oh, and the Packers won. Yay!?

Today Will got to get in on the project. He went to the store. I contend that he had it easier, as he will be gone all week and didn't have to menu plan. So folks, for the week I have potato leek soup and pork and beans. It's gonna be a great week. Tomorrow I will be hitting a store called Lush, and I can't wait to try out their shampoo bar. Hopefully it will be a good way to keep my hair clean and plastic free!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 5- Back to the Store

So, I lied. I really went to the store yesterday. It was a rather long drawn out process and I wandered back and forth at least three times. On Monday I wrote a list of everything that we would need for the week, but Whole Foods didn't have rice in paper bags, Heinz Chili sauce or bag free bread. And I forgot the milk, mea culpa! So I went to Giant instead. First of all, I would like you to know that plastic free milk is pretty difficult to get. It used to be, back in the olden days when men were men and sheep were timid that you got cartons of milk and if you opened the wrong side you needed a knife to properly open the thing. Does anyone remember their milk from school lunches? Well, my friends, those days don't exist anymore. Now we have cartons with spouts on the side and big plastic jugs. I need a milk man. Whole Foods does carry glass milk containers, but with my extreme skill and dexterity it's not really the best idea. Moral of the story? I bought a plastic jug of milk. This will require research. I also picked up some cold cuts, which required a lot of back and forth about how the plastic sheets they were using are in fact, plastic. It said so right on the side! So finally, they go get butcher paper and have my meat on that, but try to wrap the whole thing in saran wrap. Sigh.... I need to bring containers. Anyway, the store was ok but it just takes more time and a lot more wandering the aisles.

Since people have been reading my blog, all 7 of you, I have had many (at least 3) people mention glass and metal straws. I knew I could depend on friends to uphold my straw sluttiness, so I will be trying some. I've discovered that I can get chocolate milk in cartons, so I think that will be my first straw drink. It'll be spectacular.

In other news, Will was at first heartbroken at the thought of no white Russians. How does one get crushed ice without buying it? I guess we could use the blender we got for our wedding, but I think that's still hiding under the bed in it's box. But we do have a snow cone maker. So on this happening Friday night, he's waiting patiently for the ice harvest to make his white Russians. So far life is good.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 3- Not all Plastic is Bad, Right?

So, I've been asked by scores of people (ok, one person. Thanks Mom!) about why I am trying this plastic free year, what do I really hope to accomplish. My main goal is really to reduce the amount of extraneous plastic I consume. I don't dislike plastic, I really don't. I just don't think we need quite so much. I have lot of plastic in my house, this laptop is plastic, my phone is plastic, Will's X-box is plastic, I have plastic cups and serving ware, even my "snow shovel" is plastic. I'll get to the snow shovel thing later. In fact, I prefer my plastic cutting boards to my wood ones, they go in the dishwasher, and I don't have to worry about cutting raw chicken on them. So, really what am I hoping to accomplish?

I have always been very interested in food, where it comes from, how to cook it, and what becomes of the left overs. I grew up in southern California, and we always seemed to have really good fresh fruits and vegetables, there were times we would just lean over the fence to get lemons to make lemonade. In general, I adore farmers markets, and I have fond memories of getting bags and bags of avocados from friends who simply had too many. So with that in mind, why plastic? Why now?

Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. Where you able to really buy anything with no plastic? Probably not. Now we have all this new information about plastic degrading and what type of chemicals we are consuming. Will and I are trying to get those chemicals out of our personal food chain. The biggest culprit is probably BPA, which stands for Bisphenol-a. I've heard of this before, but mostly in conjunction with baby bottles. I honestly thought, oh it's some tactic to freak new moms out so they buy more expensive bottles. As it turns out, BPA has effects on hormone production as an endocrine disruptor. For a long time, the mantra, if you will, in terms of pollution and exposure has been "the solution to pollution is dilution". So BPA in trace amounts should be ok, right? Wrong. It turns out that very low levels have much greater effects on hormones then anyone previously thought. So, if Will and I are trying to reduce the amount of hormones in our everyday foods, removing BPA is a natural step. We are also attempting to remove high-fructose corn syrup from our diet. So in terms of foods, we are trying to get rid of plastics. And honestly, with a little forethought, it's really not that hard to shop for plastic free food. Of course, I haven't had to buy cheese yet. But I have a plan for that.

The second portion of the plan has to do with the oceanic garbage patches, one of the best known ones is the North Pacific Gyre. This is an area the size of Texas where trash just collects and collects. Plastic does not biodegrade, it does degrade due to light, so even as it breaks smaller and smaller, it remains plastic. I have a few biologist friends that I'm sure might be able to give you more detail on the patch, but let me tell you, I  have driven from El Paso to San Antonio. It takes 8 hours, and that is half the state. So just imagine a huge dump in the middle of the sea that would take you 16 hours to drive at 85mph across. I would like to stop contributing to that. Katie or E if you have anything to add to this, please do.

So ultimately, I would like to eat cleaner and be cleaner. That is the goal of this project. If I can inspire someone else to use less bags and plastic, that will be a huge plus.

And now for something rather amusing:
I mentioned my "snow shovel" earlier, it isn't really a snow shovel. Last week we had a pretty big storm that dropped 5-7 inches of snow on us. So the next morning, Will and I got up to dig the cars out. I have an ice scraper, but that wasn't going to meet muster, so I brought out one of my big plastic mixing bowls and dug my car out with that. It worked pretty well, and I'm sure I looked silly. But hey, I was snowed in. That's what I had to do. So as you can see, I'm not totally against plastic.

BPA Info

Oceanic Garbage Patch