Once you get to know Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life, your plastics standards increase by exponential degrees as a result of positive peer pressure. I’ve often thought of Beth’s commitment to using no plastic in the past week, and I feel like a plastic failure! Here’s my full confession: During Get Out the Plastic week last week, I used plasticware twice at restaurants, Styrofoam plates once, and this Monday at the grocery store I realized I didn’t even have any of the plastic produce bags that I dry out and reuse (I’m such a baby stepper, eh?) with me, and of course I was buying a supremely huge amount of fresh veggies. Oh, the guilt!
I also realized after someone asked how I store my flour, that my flour and sugar and brown sugar is stored in number 7 plastic!!! Gaaaaaahhhhhhh! How could I have missed that for so long! I moved “stainless steel airtight canisters” up to high priority on my wish list (Mother’s Day is coming, hint, hint, family) and will live in fear until then. Actually, I need to switch over to reusing glass containers, I guess. I have some big nut jars that will suffice.
That’s just another reason it will be good to be grinding my own grain. Another confession: I haven’t even opened the grain mil box yet. It won’t be long now, though, because this is how much whole wheat I have left, plus 3/4 bag of white whole wheat:
I’ve got the wheat berries ready for when I run out, but I’m petrified! Is it crazy that I’m scared to open my new kitchen gadget? I’ve always hated learning new appliances, reading directions, such and such like that. When I was a senior in high school, I refused to learn how to use a graphing calculator. I went all the way through Calc II in college without using one, just because I’m stubborn and was sick of technology. (It’s a miracle I ever got going with this blog thing, eh?) Tell me I’m not alone, please! Anyone else have an appliance-phobia?
Plastic Reduction FAQs
As part of the Life Without Plastic giveaway, commenters could ask a question about plastic use. Of course, I wanted to answer them all, but I can’t really do that on a giveaway post! Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:
- How do you (politely) stop others from giving you plastic? For a few years now, I’ve prefaced our kids’ birthday wish lists with “less plastic, more wood; fewer batteries and buttons, more imagination and child-driven toys.” I wish I could say it works!One Christmas, we complained so much about all the battery-powered toys we had around the house that instead of getting our kids toys without batteries, my in-laws got us a bunch of batteries! They misunderstood our grief and thought we were frustrated with the monetary cost of batteries.
You just have to keep trying, keep relationships very respectful, and throw out little teachable moments when you can fit them in without hurting anyone’s feelings.
And if the plastic-giving relatives are far away? You return the gifts for wooden toys and fingerpaints. That was my M.O. two years ago!
- How do you freeze things without plastic? Beth Terry would use stainless steel and glass storage, including I’m sure the “free” glass jars you get from reclaiming store spaghetti sauce jars and the like. Personally, I have plenty of plastic in my freezers. My space is so limited that I couldn’t survive without plastic bags.I store almost all of my broth in glass jars and never put hot foods into plastic. All my frozen fruit, bread dough, cookies and meat are in plastic, though (the meat comes that way from the farm). When I bought store meat, I tried hard to get it from the counter in freezer paper instead of on a styrofoam tray, though.I also wrote a letter to my grocery store’s product department asking them to use bags instead of styrofoam trays for their reduced produce section. I don’t know if it was me, but they just switched! At least I can reuse the plastic bags for other produce purchases. You can find a copy of that letter, which also requests a reduce produce section if you don’t have one, at the Reduced Produce Primer.
- Does the plastic still leach if the food is cold when put into the plastic? Heat accelerates leaching, according to current research. Although we’re always learning more about the ways things we created work, cold storage in plastic should not be as much of a concern as hot applications.
- Has anyone found a way to avoid the plastic bottle nipples and sippy cup spouts? Watch for silicone, at least for bottle nipples. The glass bottle from LWP and the stainless steel that Beth gave away last week both fit the bill.
- Since plastic apparently lines disposable coffee cups, does that mean it lines milk cartons too? If so, how do I reduce my plastic consumption while still purchasing milk, which comes in either plastic jugs or plastic-lined cartons? Beth gave up milk and puts water on her cereal. I won’t advocate that you join her, but you could join me: we get raw milk from a farm and reuse the gallon glass jars every week.
- I need to find a 100% stainless – no plastic – to go coffee mug. If you have suggestions, let me know!
Stainless Steel Container FAQs
- Isn’t stainless steel toxic to cook in? The article cited at that link does speak of some leaching from stainless steel, notably nickel. But honestly, I have to cook in SOMEthing! Sometimes I just have to turn a blind eye and/or choose the lesser evil. Stainless is generally deemed safe except by the very conservative. My pots and pans are either non-stick or stainless, with a few cast iron pans. But for big pots, seriously – I have to use something. I’m open to hearing more on this, though.
- Do they stack okay? It sure seems so, but I only got one, so whoever wins the giveaway for two will have to answer this one!
- I’d love to try stainless steel containers. Do they leak? Absolutely not. They have super tight seals, locked right down on three sides with latches.
Resources for Replacing Plastics
Although glass and stainless steel are great replacements for plastic containers, many people were concerned about how to avoid plastic zippered bags and plastic wrap. Here are few small, eco-conscious companies selling viable alternatives:
- Eco Lunch Gear (local Michigan company!)
- Lunch Skins
- Snack Taxi
- Graze Organics (many Etsy sellers make cloth sandwich bags as well)
- There are lots of other stainless steel lunch kits, too
- Kid-friendly tempered glass
If you visit any of these companies, tell them I sent you. I’d love to have any of them at KS as advertisers/sponsors!
Sarah at Tales of a Hummingbird emailed the Ziploc company with some surprising results. I was under the impression that all plastic storage bags were no. 4 plastic, generally deemed safe(er) without BPA. Here’s the scoop:
The following bags are recyclable under the plastic recycling number four:
- Ziploc® Brand Freezer and Storage Bags
- Ziploc® Brand Snack and Sandwich Bags
- Ziploc® Brand evolve™ Bags
- Ziploc® Brand Fresh Produce Bags
The following bags are recyclable under the plastic recycling number seven:
- Ziploc® Brand Easy Zipper Bags
- Ziploc® Brand Zip ‘n Steam™ Bags
- Ziploc® Brand Vacuum Freezer Bags
Number seven often included BPA. What???
And here is the latest FDA update on BPA, from January 2010.
And the Winner Is…
The lucky winner of the two stainless steel food storage containers is Christy J (christy377), who commented at Kitchen Stewardship. Please contact me with your contact info! Congrats!
Be sure to hop in this week’s giveaway, for the first look at my Healthy Snacks to Go eBook and some huge cans of freeze-dried fruit.
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
Image from number657 and Eco Lunch Gear.
I’m entered in Tammy’s Recipes Kitchen Tip Tuesday.