Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reducing My Impact: A Year-Long Adventure. Month 5- Reducing Our Use of Plastic

For my year-long adventure I have been choosing one thing each month to focus on and have been trying to make changes that will reduce my impact on our Earth. August's challenge didn't go so well, so let's hope I can make up for it this month.....The month of September will be focused on changing my relationship with plastic. Plastic is important. It saves lives, it is durable, its use is convenient. But come on people! Plastic is everywhere! It is bad for our health, bad for the planet, clogging up landfills and oceans, and we are using our ever-depleting stores of fossil fuels to create the stuff. Enough already. Starting now, I am vowing to use less if it.And,.. this is not an easy challenge. Sometimes, in one of the classes I teach, I offer an extra credit challenge for people to go 1 week without purchasing ANY new plastic (yeah, even stuff wrapped in plastic). And, when I give this challenge, I often undertake it myself. It is hard, takes planning, and makes you look like a weirdo when in public.
I am not going to go plastic free, however, I am going to try and reduce what I do use. Here are my ideas:
  1.  Make my own cloth (ziploc) bags. I already do wash and reuse the plastic bags I have, but over time they deteriorate, and I end up buying a box every year or so. If I make my own, I will rarely have to use the plastic ones and they will last me a much longer time. Plus they will be way cuter.
  2.  Buy glass tupperwares (and/or more jars) and use this for food storage. I will give away most of my plastic ones, but will save a few for traveling and camping (when glass isn't such a great idea).
  3. I will stop buying shampoo in shampoo bottles. I will now search out a source for bulk shampoo or will buy bar shampoo
  4. I will make sure to remember my muslin bags for produce and bulk items (or bring my already used plastic ones).  I will not take new plastic produce or bulk bags! And, while I am at bag making, I will make more so there are always plenty to go around.
  5. I will try to purchase less convenience food (like pre-made humus and salsa) and suck it up and make my own. It's cheaper and healthier anyways.... Also, purchasing less convenience food in general that has plastic in the packaging. Like snack foods, crackers, etc. I shouldn't really be eating this stuff anyways, so maybe this will help me eat healthier.
I know this will be a challenge, but I think I have set reasonable goals for myself for this month (or at least I hope I have!)

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  1. I'm tired reading this but greatly appreciate that you are doing it for our earth- I try- you know I do- but for me there is such a fine line between waiting to make my own humus and feeling bad that that particular healthy snack option is not available to my family because I didn't have time to make it-
    I absolutely support no plastic bags- as for jars we use them for fruits and veggies as often as possible- if I use a zip lock we wash and reuse.

  2. We have been working on reducing our use of plastic recently, too-- I have started using cloth bags for bulk purchases like flour. I have a lot of pyrex, and I have been buying glass storage containers, but where I have been stuck is on gallon bags for freezing-- I just can't afford enough glass to freeze all the berries, etc., that I want to, and the glass takes up more space than the plastic. I haven't figured out a good alternative yet.

  3. I don't have a good alternative for that either... I definitely still use ziplocs, especially for freezing stuff, and I suspect that I will continue to.....I wash and re-use them, but sometimes plastic really just is the best option.

  4. Good for you! This is one we definitely need to work on. I reuse plastic bags, but I'd like to get away from them. A word of caution about cloth ones though-- wash them often! Studies have found salmonella and E. coli bacteria in the creases of canvas and other cloth bags. It doesn't keep me from using them (when I remember to bring them to the store!), but I definitely wash them more often now.

  5. This post could not have come at a better time for me! I have been contemplating the amount of plastic in my home a lot lately. I, too, have been attempting to figure out where to cut back or eliminate all together. I am interested in each idea you stated and can't wait to read more!


  6. yeah, i've been trying to reduce our plastic intake too. hubby doesn't quite understand this, though he is nice enough to go along with most things i do. i'm trying not to bring more into our home, but not really planning on getting rid of what we already have. (tho it's something i daydream about when the cash flow improves). good luck with your challenge this month!