Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doin' ok

I'm doing pretty well this week. I've gotten much better about being firm regarding straws. Other than straws, plastic is pretty easy to avoid. I do really miss cheese. I searched the grocery store but found absolutely no cheese wrapped in anything but plastic. Couldn't we use foil? Paper?

This morning I found myself at Starbuck's without my trusty thermos. I had left it at work by accident. But coffee was a must, so I went ahead with a paper cup. I think the cups are coated by plastic, but that can just be my 1 piece for today. I adamantly requested NO LID, and they complied. All in all, it worked out.

Last night, I was out to dinner and found myself without tupperware for the leftovers. So the question -- leave the perfectly delicious taco for waste or borrow my friend Monica's dirty tupperware from lunch? I obviously took the second option. I think it'll be fine. She's pretty healthy.

In general, this week has been much better than last week, despite the fact that I've been getting meals with a number of friends in an attempt to balance the work and the life. I'm not always successful at the crazy balancing act, but I've really enjoyed my social outings this week.

All in all, I think the plastic-free thing just takes planning and practice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Plastic Plastic Everywhere

I've been a little out of touch this week. As my friends at can attest, that sometimes means you've been overusing plastic.

It started out well. Tuesday was a one-piece of plastic day. Wednesday was a plastic-free day. Then Thursday hit. Out at a restaurant, I definitely got some dirty looks from the wait staff when I requested no straws. I was only partially successful in avoiding them. Friday, I indulged myself and got some buffalo sauce with a sandwich from, dare I say it, Burger King. That comes in plastic. "It's ok," I told myself. "It's just my one piece for the day." But then I went to an Obama fundraiser and ordered some nachos. They came with the guacamole and sour cream in separate plastic cups. Who knew? I didn't even think to ask for no plastic on my food. Oops. Then I met a friend at Good Eats (see previous post) and although I carefully selected plastic-free options, she picked up extra plasticware for me. Plus, even though we were eating in, they put our food in a plastic bag! I was confused because they had trays but for some reason gave us a bag. So, yikes, six pieces of plastic in just one day?! Ugh.

I went apple/pumpkin picking yesterday -- quality from-the-farm delicious apples! Seriously, these things are so sweet and tasty. When I got home I was so tired that a nap turned into an all-night-sleep. Unfortunately, I'd gotten some of my precious pre-Plastic-Diet chicken out to thaw but never woke up to my nap alarm. $10 worth of chicken and some plastic wasted. I was sad.

Things are looking up, though. I feel newly committed to the cause. I even went grocery shopping tonight and mostly avoided plastic. The only pieces of plastic I picked up were: lids on a box of walnuts and a box of cous cous and a little plastic around the edge of my oatmeal box. I basically just buy canned food and fresh produce on this Plastic Diet which leads to some pretty healthy meals. I'm pumped for the asparagus soup that I'm planning for tomorrow.

At the farm yesterday, they had plastic bags for the apples. I'd left in a hurry and hadn't grabbed a reusable bag from home but fortunately they had some reusable ones for sale there with the following Plastic Diet inspiration attached:

*14 plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a car a mile
*380 BILLION plastic bags or wraps are thrown away in America each year
*Cities spend up to 17 cents per bag in disposal costs, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars


Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend in Plastic World

So, it's been a rough few days.

On Friday I forgot my fork and had to use plastic to eat my lunch. I thought I had a real fork with me, but I must have taken it out to wash it and forgotten to put it back in my bag. I managed to get through a happy hour with no unnecessary plastic, although I did collect some dirty looks from the bewildered staff. Later, I went out to dinner with my parents. Before we'd even ordered, I went to the restroom and when I returned there was a glass of water with an unwelcome plastic straw in it. I guess I need a sign that says "NO PLASTIC, PLEASE" to leave behind when I step away from the table.

On Saturday I managed to get through dinner ok but I definitely acquired at least one straw later on when I went out with some friends. All in all it could have been worse, but it could also have been better.

Sunday went a little better. I even realized that you can still eat crap food and avoid plastic -- I had a great emergency meal (left the house, realized I'd forgotten to eat, had little time, wouldn't be home for hours) at McDonald's without the use of plastic. They've really come a long way in using paper products instead of plastic.

Being plastic-free is so much easier when I stay home. But that's no fun! I will just have to be more assertive. And possibly make that sign....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yay for Potbelly's and Chipotle

Tonight I stopped for one of my favorite treats -- a Potbelly's Chicken Salad sandwich. I don't even have to cut this delight out of my life -- it comes wrapped in paper and placed in a paper bag. As long as I steer clear of the potato chips and cookies (which come in plastic bags), I'm safe! Yippee! Plus those "sides/desserts" aren't very good for me, so this is just one more reason to choose health.

As I was contemplating the beauty that is a sandwich wrapped in paper, I thought of Chipotle and it's burritos wrapped in foil. Also an excellent choice. Totally recycleable and plastic-free!

At least this Plastic Diet won't force me to give up on those delicious treats!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blender Needed

So, I need a blender. Those of you who know me, know how much I love hummus. Sadly, the last of my plastic-wrapped hummus got prematurely trashed in a refrigerator purge. In any event, it'd probably be gone by now. Last night I attempted to make my own by smashing chickpeas with a fork. I added olive oil and some spices, but this is what I ended up with:Yikes. Not quite Cedar's:
I'm pretty sure that this is nothing a blender/food processor and a good recipe can't cure. Speaking of which, if you have a good recipe for hummus, PLEASE send it my way!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Third Day is NOT a Charm

So, Friday was a little rough. It all started when I was at a breakfast meeting and ordered some coffee. Given that it was a regular restaurant with "dishwasher cups," and given that it was early in the morning when my brain works significantly less well, I didn't remember to ask for "no plastic, please!" They brought my coffee with a plastic stirrer in it! 8:30 and I already had acquired plastic.

Later, I went to a meeting with some of my new team members. They offered me coffee and I thought it only polite to accept. Sadly, accepting brought with it a styrofoam cup.

Later, I went to Good Stuff Eatery with my old team from work. By the way, that place is AMAZING! It's the restaurant that Spike from Top Chef opened in DC -- it's at 3rd and Penn. It really is great. Anyway, I think I avoided plastic, but not without giving up a delicious milkshake. Sad. I even chose a beverage in a glass bottle so as to avoid the plastic-coated fountain drink cups. I think the turkey burger was wrapped in waxed paper -- it didn't seem too plastic-y. Here's hoping.

All in all, a tough day. It's really all about eating out -- restaurants are dangerous!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 2 and the Livin is Good

Today went pretty well. I went to the grocery store to get some food/drinks for watching the VP debate. I chose 1 piece of plastic - a bag of Tostitos - but that's it. I tried to get the kind that's mostly paper with just a tiny plastic window, but they didn't have any at Giant. Sadly, I had to buy the entire large plastic bag. I carefully avoided beverages with any plastic, though (even soda cans have plastic attaching each 6 pack). I also needed a new glass bottle (I've taken to adopting this over plastic Nalgenes) because the lid to my old iced tea bottle got lost. I chose Lipton instead of Nestea because they had no plastic seal around the edge (even though I think Nestea is tastier).

I've been staying close to home and hence have had no serious plastic incidents. I worry about tomorrow when I MUST eat 2 meals out. Maybe I'll have better stories then!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Read My Lips: No New Plastic!

So, Day 1 went pretty well. I cooked at home which made being plastic-free a lot easier. I think this plastic challenge will force me to cook more, which is objectively good. I even found a metal pen for class. I've also decided on a clarification of the rules: Plastic usage accrues to the day the non-reusable plastic is purchased. This is because I should use the plastic I already have -- it doesn't help the world for me not to use stuff I already have.

Plastic-Free is the Way to Be!

It's October 1st. That means that as of now, I only get to use one piece of new plastic per day. Modeled off of Kerry and Erin's rules, here's the game plan:

1. Use only one piece of non-reusable plastic/day for the month of October.
2. ANYTHING that is not reusable counts. A straw I didn't ask for (or asked not to have) counts. EXCEPT:
a) Medical Plastic. This includes Band-Aids, vials and tubing for injections, anything they decide to use on me in a doctor's office or hospital, and containers of prescriptions or vitamins.
b) Plastic I cannot see and legitimately do not believe to be part of a product before purchasing an item. See the entry on Kerry and Erin's blog about plastic IN one of their meals.
3. I will keep all non-reusable plastic until the end of the month. I will then recycle what is recycleable.
4. I reserve the right to revert to plastic abuse on November 1. We'll see how it goes. I may also modify my plastic diet to general mindfulness or to 2 or 3 items to make it more sustainable past October.

Watch here for stories of my trials and triumphs! Down with wasteful plastic!!

Plastic Binge

Ok, so I went on a last-minute plastic binge. I stocked up on some of the things that are going to be a real challenge for me, such as:
*gum (the cardboard is ok but the outer plastic wrap is a killer)
*paper towels and tissues (not sure what to do without these...I think from time to time I'll just have to buy them, though I can reduce my usage by using rags and handkerchiefs)
*shampoo (I know about the bar shampoo/conditioner at Lush, but I'm apprehensive)
*plastic pens (though I still have to find some non-plastic to write with tomorrow in class since my prof. banned plastic)
*Lean Pockets

Yesterday I had a last meal in the food court at Union Station. I LOVE the Indian food there. I wonder if they'd let me bring my own reusable plate...I may try it one of these days.

On the bright side, I refused a straw at dinner and carried my leftovers home wrapped in a napkin! I'm going to be ok!