I was driving in the car recently and listening to NPR when I hear an astounding fact: Americans consume a credit card's worth of plastic, EVERY WEEK! I was particularly vulnerable when I heard this terrifying fact as I was a week into what has now become a month long battle of trying to fix my 10 year old's kidney stones and resultant surgeries and health concerns. In an effort to channel my worries about my sonI started hyper-focusing on something a little more within my immediate control: our family's exposure to plastics.
I am, more than anything else, a problem solver, so I began by noticing just how much of my life involves plastic and trying to make baby steps toward changing this. While I am not, and never will be, perfect, this is the beginning of my journey to make what I expose my family, my home, and myself a little bit cleaner. Here is a list of the 5 little changes I've focused on this week:
1. Plastic Produce Bags:
I went to Whole Foods to buy organic lemons as they are the only natural product that is known to actively break down kidney stones. I proudly bought a whole bag and went home and juiced them all, keeping a week's worth in the fridge in a glass jar and freezing the excess in matching glass jars. I'm now lemons juice set for at least a month. This will go in my son's morning and evening tea (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate)...I know, we will have to be careful with brushing not to impact his tooth enamel with all this lemon (I swear, it often feels like I fix one problem only to cause two more). Back to my organic lemons, after juicing them all I realized, they came pre-packaged in a plastic bag! FacePalm!
My dear friend Nikoletta--who has been doing this whole greener living thing way longer than me-- came to my rescue when she dropped off these handmade produce bags.
They are seriously the cutest thing! They are made from breathable linen (sustainable!) and perfect for packing produce up at the grocery store and avoiding single use plastic! I'm obsessed. If you aren't crafty like Nikoletta I found some similar ones on Amazon.
2. Bake my own bread:
Baking my own bread has been on my radar for awhile because I get so tired of reading all of the labels (printed on plastic packaging!) trying to find breads with no sugar or, even worse: corn syrup. I usually pay upwards of $5 for a loaf of organic bread and they usually put sugar in it! Now, I have a total sugar addiction so the last place I need to be consuming sugar is anywhere where I don't even enjoy it! Plus, my husband is from Italy where they only put sugar in bread if they are making a cake so he gets pretty annoyed by our "sweet" breads (though as an American through and through I have to admit that I can't even taste the sugar they use). Anyway, my 80 year old grandma came to the rescue! I quick trip to grandma's house and I am now a pro at making my own, sugar free bread! Here is the super simple, delicious recipe for French Bread. My next goal is to experiment with adding some whole wheat into the mix.
Hydrating is more important now for my family than ever before. I drink a lot of coffee and wine (apparently this was the in-vogue diet in 1970 but is seriously a direct path to dehydration.) The rest of my water intake tends to come from tea and carbonated water in the form of La Croix cans. Tea is fine, I have my own favorite mug in my car for when I'm out and about to avoid single use containers. La Croix, it comes in aluminum, the most recyclable material EVER! But wait...almost all aluminum cans are coated on the inside with plastic #@#$ *&@!!! So I found some hydro flasks - super trendy and not coated with crap - and even bought some smaller ones for my kids. We now have an entire shelf in the fridge door devoted to our plastic free hydration.
4. Plastic Coffee Pods
I love my coffee. I love my Keurig. Running around all day I rarely sit down or stop to do anything just for me so being able to pop a coffee pod into the machine and water the plants and start a load of laundry only to have a fresh, personal, cup of coffee waiting for me 5 minutes later is a HUGE luxury. But it is also been a guilty one. First of all the pods are pricey compared to making a pot of coffee but, honestly, I'll take the cost for the convenience. More problematic for me is all of the waste. Well, good old human ingenuity and Amazon came to my rescue (again). I've checked with my municipality (easy internet search) and I can recycle plastics 1-9. Keurig pods are usually 5s. With this handy tool I can now enjoy my single serve coffee machine and recycle the pods -- it almost makes up for my loss of on the go bubbly water.
So, not technically plastic per se, but in the realm of leaving less waste in the land fills. I am starting to compost kitchen scraps again. As you may or may not know, I am an organic flower farmer so I am very familiar with composting in the garden but in my kitchen I stopped doing it because of the flies and maggots...actually, I could work around the flies, the maggots were my end game. But we produce a lot of kitchen compost material and my city picks residential compost up for free, gets it garden ready, then allows you to pick the final product up for free! Its a no brainer but I had to find a way to NEVER EVER again find maggots in my kitchen. Here is my answer! It is stylish (copper!), and comes with a years supply of compostable bags and carbon filters.
Check back next week where I'll chronicle my ongoing battle to live more cleanly, for my family, for myself, and for my planet!