Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Me! Monday

This will be fun! I haven't "Not Me!ed" in awhile.

Let's see...

I certainly DIDN'T stay in bed the whole weekend (in fairness, I was sick...and I managed not to use any plastic while sick...unless you count the Tylenol bottle. Why does ALL medicine come in plastic? I mean, I do have the special dispensation for medical plastic, but what ever happened to the good old glass medical jar?).

I definitely did NOT drink my chicken soup out of a coffee cup at work today when I discovered I'd forgotten my spoon (it was an effort to avoid succombing to using a plastic one).

I obviously would NEVER go to McDonald's, despite its inherent plasticity, to get an evening snack in an effort to push through an assignment. (In fairness, the only plastic I used was whatever was coating my cup. But it's more the idea of McDonald's that's plastic...)
Someone bought FOUR BOXES of granola bars to keep at work (because they were on sale, but only if you bought four!). Who, me? Couldn't be! They come individually wrapped...oh, but they're so yummy (real weakness, granola bars. serious. troubling).
And I totally DIDN'T delay buying binders because I want to find some eco-friendly ones. Nope! Not me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Still Here! Still Avoiding Plastic!

Sorry I've been MIA. My new job's been really busy. It's not that I don't have unplastic stories -- I do! But sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to choose which one to tell.

Let's see...

I finally got my pictures developed from DC Pride. Yes, developed. Old school disposable camera. I'm insanely embarassed. Also, for the record, it took HORRIBLE pictures. By and large they are horrendously over-exposed. Sigh.

BUT they do document the excessive use of plastic at such festivals. Here's a picture of the people forcing unnecessary plastic bags on festival-goers:

Here's the one of the iced tea taste test that generated lots of waste:

Here's a picture of the recycling bin!

Recycling is so gay (I mean that in a good way -- the LGBT community tends to love a good recycling bin!). By contrast, I went to the National Capitol BBQ Festival (where I failed at taking pictures because my batteries were dead), and they didn't even have recycling bins. On a plus note, though, the Dasani flavored water employee gave me a bunch of delicious strawberry-kiwi water in my Sigg. She poured extra water in because she was impressed that I was trying to be earth-friendly. Nice job, Dasani!

I managed to have a low-plastic July 4. Took my trusty Sigg with me and used it for all of my beverage needs. Successfully avoided straws at several spots this weekend -- and my friends even know to forcefully request NO STRAW when ordering for me too!! It's so sweet.

So, overall, festivals can be rough times, holidays are do-able, and my friends are the best!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Find It! Episode 2

**Contest deadline extended to 11:59, Friday, June 26 (International Human Rights Day! Totally unrelated...)**

It's a happy post tonight. :)

So, way back when, I promised that if I posted a "Find It! Episode 1," it would be followed by an "Episode 2." It's time for that episode.

You know the drill: Open the pictures, save them on your computer. Use some nifty program to draw circles around the plastic lurking in these gorgeous Grecian landscapes. Email the answers to Win a cool un-plastic prize (details TBD, but it'll be good!). Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on Friday (June 26, 2009).

Just four of them this time (I'm so easy on you!):




Also, congrats, dear readers, you've gotten us over 1,000 page views since May 14! Nice work! Keep it up!

Moby Dick is no Friend to the Plastic Dieter

I made the mistake of trying to eat at Moby Dick tonight. Moby Dick is a take-out falafel/pita place in Dupont Circle. I was excited, since I absolutely ADORE Mediterranean food. But, once inside, it became clear that Moby Dick is no friend to the Plastic Dieter.

It started out innocently enough. I walked in and perused the menu excitedly. When it became clear that the restaurant generally served its food on either plastic plates or in styrofoam containers, I started to get concerned. But, this is nothing I don't face often enough. Just last week I ate with some colleagues in the Botanical Gardens. We got take out from the Native American museum, which typically uses plastic for to-go containers, and I just asked the chef to kindly wrap my turkey sandwich in a paper towel. It worked just fine!

So, I asked if I could order a pita sandwich and have them wrap it in a paper towel. The employee stuttered a yes but his overbearing, rude manager shouted out a no. Not yet deterred, I asked if they could use foil. The manager reported that it was against the health code. Really? It's against the health code to serve a sandwich in paper or foil? Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Potbelly's, Cosi, even fast food like McDonald's and Burger King do it all the time. And I am 100% sure I've eaten foil-wrapped falafel in Adams Morgan. It looks like this wrapped up in foil:

Or like this in paper:

I'd be frankly shocked if there were any rule against using paper or foil packaging. I'd very much like to see it in writing. When it's not the middle of the night, I'll try to check into the DC Health Code.

Eventually, the employee brought over the hard plastic plate and the styrofoam container and said, "We have this or we have this." And I said, "Well, then I don't think I want anything." My friends still ate there, but I went to Baja Fresh. I will never eat at Moby Dick. Not until they at least try a biodegradeable plastic. There are so many other options that are at least marginally accomodating of their customers. My distress this evening really went beyond the plastic issue to the way I felt I was treated, with a complete lack of flexibility, creativity, or customer service.

At least my burrito was delicious.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fold-up Reusable Bag

This one is really a shout out to my parents for sharing this incredible anti-plastic device with me.

Thank you!!

It's a reusable bag, but one that folds into a small square -- perfect for tucking into my work bag.

On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store to grab just a few things. As I was there, and my list went from turkey to tomatoes to lettuce to granola bars, I started to worry that I wouldn't be able to get it all home. Don't get me wrong - I have no shame whatsoever about waltzing down the street carrying a head of lettuce. But my catch was bordering on the limit of what my arms could carry (that link is to one of my very favorite posts from Kerry and Erin's anti-plastic journey).

And then - dah dah dah DUHM - I remembered that I'd tucked this:

into my bag. Yes, that's the same picture, but it's so beautiful, don't you think? And, yes I've blogged about this awesome contraption before, but since it totally made my night, I figured it deserved another shot.

*While we're on the subject of carrying heads of lettuce down the street (sans bag), I just want to note that among the health and conscience benefits of Plastic Dieting is the fact that it works your confidence. I'm a stronger human for not caring at all if people think it's weird to carry around lettuce without plastic. I think it's weirder to carry it around IN plastic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blueberry Muffins!

Tonight, after dinner, I was craving something more. You know, preferrably something a little sweet but not too heavy. I opened the pantry and saw an extra pack of blueberry muffins! I made some last week and forgot that I bought two of the mixes. I was definitely the happiest person ever!

I made myself (and my roommate) a delicious treat:

And this was the only packaging:

Yum! Do you have a favorite low-plastic treat?


Summer is a time for festivals, and DC hosts one almost every weekend. This weekend, for example, was Pride. The Folklife Festival is coming up. And I'm sure we'll be celebrating almost everything under the sun, week by week.

Festivals are plastic nightmares.

I have some pictures of this weekend's plastic, but I can't post them yet because they are on - get this - a disposable camera. I know, I know. I forgot my camera and a friend and I picked up old school disposable ones. I feel terrible.

A notable unnecessary use of plastic was the plastic bags a bank was passing out at the Pride festival yesterday. They were intended to hold all the random papers and (plastic) swag people would inevitably pick up from around the displays. Why not paper? Or, better yet, canvas? Or canvas made of recycled plastic? Honestly, probably because all of those things would be more expensive to produce. But the social cost of plastic (what with its never going away and all) is pretty high...

Friday, June 12, 2009


It's rained here pretty much every day this week. Rain always makes me think about plastic. And how sometimes I do like it.

Seriously, a paper umbrella wouldn't work very well. A glass rain coat? No, thanks, I'll take Gore-Tex(r), please! That stuff is pretty amazing.

BUT, rain does beg the case for planning ahead - it's best to use a reusable coat or umbrella and not one of those poncho things. But in an emergency, I'd still want a poncho.

Afterall, this was never an all out ban on plastic. Just an effort to reduce unnecessary one-time-use plastic. Maybe this is the exception that proves the rule.

Anyone have rainy day suggestions?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Real World

I start a new job today. It's not just a new job - it's a new part of my life, post-grad school. It's the sort of work I hope I'll do for quite some time. Even though I've been an "adult" for awhile now, it somehow seems like the beginning of real life. The beginning of the rest of my life. Per the Grey's Anatomy episode and my previous post, "Today, my life begins..."

Accordingly, I have to take some of my anti-plastic accouterments with me to this new office. I want to take silverware, but I'm pretty sure those won't pass the metal detectors. So I'm taking plastic silverware (washed and reused from some previous event ... don't worry, we don't buy that stuff). I always take a bowl to work. Plus I'll have my fold-up reusable bag with me (love that thing!!).

And the usual. The Sigg and the reusable coffee cup.

I think I'm set. Off to work!


Every time I do yoga, I think about how it is related to my Plastic Journey. The mindfulness I've attempted to bring to my plastic consumption is akin to the mindfulness of yoga. It's not that I never use plastic -- it's that I make a conscious choice about when to use it. And I honor the expense to the Earth when I choose so to do.

Modifying plastic use is like yoga in another way. If you've been in a yoga class, you'll remember the frequent calls to "micro-adjustments," those tiny movements that make a pose more intense. Yoga is all about baby steps, knowing that you sometimes take backwards steps too, even when you're taking baby steps. It's about working in tiny increments and cultivating an attitude of appreciating the impact of those itty-bitty changes.

Yesterday, I was at Baja Fresh with a friend. I used my paper chip container to hold my salsas instead of the plastic cups. And I realized that this is one of many teeny, tiny micro-adjustments that has become part of my life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Earth 2100

Did you watch Earth 2100 last night?

I did. I found it terrifying.

Now, I'm not 100% sure how likely each of the potential plots is. But even if some of the assumptions are wrong, the show convinces me even more how important it is to reduce our use of natural resources.

Plastic comes from petroleum. Reducing your plastic use frees up those resources to tide us over until we think of better ways to transport ourselves and heat/cool our homes.

If nothing else, it was good un-plastic inspiration. See for yourself by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Relax Your Face!

So, this post is more about the "plastic life" part than the reduction, reuse, and recycling part.

I love yoga. One of my favorite things about yoga is the way it asks me to be conscious of movement and sensation I commonly ignore. Relaxing the face is one of those things.

Try it:
Unclench your jaw.
Now relax your tongue. Do you feel the jaw relaxing even further?
Is your brow furrowed? Release it too.
Imagine relaxation flowing from the point between your eyebrows.
Relax your ears.
Relax your shoulders down from your ears.
Close your eyes.
Slowly allow them to open again.

Doesn't it feel better?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Not Me! Monday

If I work quickly, I just might get this up while it's still Monday. Although, I've clearly not let that stop me in the past.

So, what did I NOT do this week? Some of these are plastic-related and some, well, not so much.

I definitely did not use the word "flummoxed" in regular conversation. And I certainly was not so flummoxed that I could literally think of no other words.

I clearly didn't refuse to accept a pin at my college reunion (available because I made a donation to the school) because it was wrapped in plastic, but then go on to indulge in the campus-preferred sandwich, even with its plastic accoutrements.

While traveling, I did NOT generate alllll this plastic waste! (Though, notice the lovely Sigg nestled happily in there...I did try. But I should have packed/bought food. OH SO MUCH PLASTIC!)

And I certainly didn't wait until the very last possible "Not Me! Monday" second. Nope. Not at all. Not me!

When in Athens, Do as the Athenians Do

You may remember one very excited post from Day 1 in Athens. I was pumped that, as soon as we stepped off the bus and into the city center (Syntagma), we saw awesome recycling centers. And awesome Athenians using them. It was pretty great.

Well, my parents and I carefully saved all recyclables and deposited them appropriately ourselves. Despite some eyerolling at the start of the trip, by the end of it they were almost more into this stuff than I was! They were seeing plastic everywhere, avoiding it like pro's, and hoarding recyclables with the best of them. Way to go, Mom and Dad!

So, here we are, recycling away.
Dad recycles:

Mom recycles:

And I recycle:

Afterall, it's what the Athenians do! Oh, and what do you get for recycling? Coupons for money off at Carrefour (a European supermarket)! The Greeks totally live right!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


You know you're a plastic blogger when.... wake up in a cold sweat after a dream about plastic. Yup, my nightmares apparently now involve walking down the street holding not one but TWO one-time-use plastic cups. With lids. And straws.

Now, although this was an unpleasant dream, there is a HIGH probability I would have just gone on sleeping if someone had not decided that 7 am on Saturday is an appropriate time to jackhammer.

But still. Cold sweat. Nightmare. About two cups. Had to laugh at that!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Find it! Episode 1 answers and Congratulations, Leah!

Thanks for your hard work! Congrats to Leah (and her son) who won this contest! Leah, I'll be in touch about getting your prize to you.

Here are the ANSWERS. If you have trouble seeing any answer, click on the picture and it will expand:





More exciting Greece trip stories coming soon. Including my very own recycling adventures and in-flight plastic issues.

Have a delightful, un-plastic day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Find it! Episode 1

This post is a game -- AND a contest. I know some of you readers are parents, and this game can be played with your children too! It's pretty simple:

I'm going to post some pictures, each of which has plastic in it somewhere. These are all photos from Spetses, one of the beautiful places I visited in Greece. Your job is to find that plastic. To enter the contest, copy the photo into Painter or whatever program you like and put a big red circle around the plastic item in the picture. Then, email it to me at The first correct email will win a gift card to Target, where you can purchase one of these adorable Terracycle CapriSun bags (or some other UNPLASTIC item for your family). See my post on Terracycle for more.

Let's try an easy one for example:

Do you see it?

What in this picture just doesn't belong?

What plastic is messing up this beautiful picture of nature?

I bet you've got it!


There it is!

Here's a close-up:

So, you get the idea. You get to look at some of my pictures from Greece AND think about plastic! You can thank me later.

Ok, now for the rest. I'll post the answers tomorrow at 9 am. Hopefully, I'll also have a winner to announce. If you're really lucky, we might even get to play again. The title of this post does say "Episode 1," afterall. Some are easy and others are harder. AND there is one trick -- one of these photos has two pieces of plastic in it. Be sure to find both. Good luck!





See, the thing is, that this POST is a game, but this IDEA is not. Plastic is everywhere. And that's why it's important to use less!

**Just to be clear, this post isn't meant to make Greece seem extra-plastic-y. And don't imagine that I missed the beauty of the place looking for plastic. It's just that, once you start noticing plastic, you see it wherever you go. Plus, this makes for a fun game, right? :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There is no Planet B

Greece. Is. Beautiful. Don't believe me? Check out these:

I literally don't even know where to start with Greece. I seriously have so much to say! I'll spread it out over a few blog posts so that you don't get bored. But I can sum it up in just a few words: Greece was incredible! If you've never been there, put it high on your bucket list. No one should die without seeing it.

The trip to Greece went a long way on the "unplastic life" thing. You know, the existential part of my anti-plastic campaign. Life is definitely NOT plastic in Greece. And, despite our initial inclination to serially sight-see (run from important place to important place like headless chickens), we managed to chill out and adopt Greek speed.

I spent a lot of time doing this:

while staring out at this:

Mom and I even fell asleep, lulled by the perfect weather, amazing view, and relaxed pace.

Granted, while I was there, there was some kind of spat that resulted in police walking around in riot gear with tear gas, but fortunately the actual "incident" happened when I was blissfully off on Spetses.

And Greek drivers aren't exactly relaxed, given that they tend to park like this:

But I didn't have to drive, so I just found it amusing.

Afterall, when you're literally wandering around where Socrates walked

it's harder to worry about the little things. Something about the history of a place like that makes me feel like, whatever the concern, it will melt away eventually. Plus, I took lots of time to look at and smell these (it really does help!):

Greeks, like many Europeans, take the time to enjoy life. They walk a little more slowly. They savor meals. They make things look pretty. They prioritize things other than expedience, so often the culprit of plastic in American life.

That said, I did see plastic everywhere. I mean, I see plastic everywhere HERE, so it's no special issue with Greece. Though it is somehow more jarring when you're at ruins of buildings that have been around for 3,000 years and see plastic lying around. More posts on the ubiquity of the plastic later.

For now, I want to introduce you to two people I met in Greece.

1. Meet Olga Kaertidou. She's an Athenian who was on weekend holiday to Spetses on Saturday. When she walked by us carrying this awesome bag, my dad kindly chased her down and photographed the great message. We chatted with Olga and her friends for a bit and learned that they were wandering around the island collecting recyclables! That made me smile a lot!! Thanks, Olga, for putting up with us and allowing me to post you and your bag on my blog!

2. On Friday night, we had dinner at this fantastic little restaurant called Hatzi's on Spetses. The chef's daughter is an economics Ph.D. student at George Washington University, so we bonded over studying in DC. And the food was delightful.

But the best part of the night came when we started chatting with the French family seated at the table behind us. They had adorable twin three-year-olds, which started the conversation. Eventually, it wound its way around to occupations. It turned out that the father makes recycling centers that are used all around Europe, including in Greece! You know, like these. I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. I was so star-struck (and the kids were so sleepy) that I didn't manage to ask for a picture. But I was pretty thrilled.

So, yes, wandering around ancient ruins and staring out at the Mediterranean Sea did me good. Deep-in-the-bones good. I love Greece! And my generally peaceful attitude as a result of visiting a beautiful place just makes me that much more committed to ensuring that these beautiful places survive. Because, you know, there is no Planet B.

(Photo credits to my awesome parents.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not Me!, Wednesday -- All the way from ATHENS!

Ok, so it's not Monday.

But, to be fair, I spent most of Monday in airports and/or wandering the truly delicious streets of Athens. (Well, they are mostly delicious. My beloved parents somehow booked a hotel in the drug/prostitute section of Athens. Seriously, sketched me out more than the area where I volunteer does. Actual hair-standing-on-end kind of sketched out. The hotel was totally fine, but the neighborhood was not. We checked out after one night. But other than that, the streets are delicious. You are very likely to look over your shoulder and see ruins that are several thousands of years old. It's, um, kind of amazing.)

Tuesday was spent racing around Athens until we found a MUCH NICER (albeit more expensive) hotel. After we found the hotel, we went to the Acropolis and then dinner. I was waaaayyyyy too exhausted for blogging!

Then Wednesday included a very early morning trip to the Ancient Agora (seriously, the actual place where Socrates hung out and where, much later, St. Paul tried to convert people. SO COOL) followed by a bus trip up to Delphi (aka, my favorite place in the universe). So, you can understand that it took me awhile to get to my Not Me! Monday post.

So, anyway, this is my Not Me! Wednesday post (if you must know, yes, it is THURSDAY in Athens, and yes it is the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT in Athens, but here I am. um, yeah).

I definitely DID NOT purchase lots of travel plastic.

I definitely did NOT pause to locate all the plastic in the Ancient Ruins sites. Like the Ancient Agora. Or Delphi. Even if it WAS in trash cans, I obviously would NEVER be repulsed!

(Seen here: Amazing Delphi. Close-up of the trash can and its plastic contents.)

(Seen here: A trash can STUFFED full of plastic. Next to, you know, the most well-preserved temple in all of Greece.)

I absolutely, positively would NEVER use silverware wrapped in plastic at a nice! restaurant. (I am weak. I wanted the napkin.)

I definitely did NOT covertly snap this photo of a man carrying plastic silverware in his pocket. My dad was definitely NOT chatting him up (as he does most strangers) at the archaelogical site in Delphi. I was definitely totally UN-impressed by his anti-plastic precision.

I absolutely did NOT dive into the drink-the-Athens-tap-water phenomenon. The books definitely DIDN'T say it's ok. So I certainly did NOT fill up my Sigg.

Today, I certainly DIDN'T purchase a can of Pringles for the trip back from Delphi to Athens. It definitely WASN'T because we utterly failed to find a single open restaurant (our timing was off -- we needed food at a time they don't really serve it). Pringles don't have a ton of plastic on them, but they are by NO MEANS an un-plastic treat.

And I absolutely, positively didn't write a Not Me! Monday post on Wednesday (Thursday). No! Not me! Never.