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Catering woes

Okay so the catering situation was pretty much as I imagined. My special gluten-free meals at breakfast and lunch came in big plastic containers.  So now to my plastic intake on this trip add:

  • two plastic food containers

Though I am failing to have zero plastic intake, I would like to list for you the plastic items that I normally would have used, but didn’t:

  • I did not take a piece of hard candy from the hotel lobby
  • I did not use the styrofoam cup that fits into the coffee maker in my room.  (What happened to glass?) I couldn’t use my travel mug because it was too tall to fit in the shrimpy coffee maker.  Rather I used the Grey Poupon jar that I had brought my salad dressing in.  Also note that I did not make coffee, but rather ginger tea, because making coffee would’ve caused me to open a plastic wrapper that houses the coffee grounds.
  • I did not take a toothpick from the restaurant at dinner even though I had food stuck in my teeth, because the toothpick was wrapped in plastic. (I think the fact that toothpicks now come individually wrapped in plastic should bother us.)
  • The only water in the meeting room was in plastic bottles.  I didn’t take any, but rather used my water bottle and refilled it in the hall.
  • When I got food from the buffet I used my empty catering containers instead of taking a new plastic plate.
  • I used the silverware I brought instead of the plastic silverware provided.
  • I used the pitcher of creamer in my coffee instead of the individually wrapped creamers.

I still like my “everybody carry a spoon”  idea.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot today (but not so much that I did the calculation).  I need a catchy name and then I’m going to figure out how to make it go viral.  Spoonerism.  Don’t give me a spoon!  Spoon me!  Don’t spoon me!  Let’s spoon America!


Don’t give me a spoon!!

So I managed to get Frozen Yogurt in the airport and NOT get a spoon.  I watched her serve the person before me and I saw how she just stuck that spoon right in there and I knew I didn’t have time to make a mistake while she was making mine.  I said “Don’t give me a spoon!” right as she put my last topping on.  In my next entry I might try to calculate the amount of plastic the world would save from being created if we all just carried around our own spoon.  Don’t you think that’s a good idea?  It’s not very much to ask.

On a side-note, I must’ve been out of California for too long because I don’t get the point of frozen yogurt anymore.  It sucks.

But let’s back up, I have taken 3 pieces of plastic into my possession so far, and I’ve only been gone for 14 hours.

1) plastic wrapper for a feminine hygiene product that I suddenly needed while on the plane.

2) one straw that came with my water at the Thai place I had dinner.  I kept it!  (I had to make sure not to let them wrap up my left-overs)

3) one key-card for my hotel room.  I discussed this with the nice man and he assured me that if I return my key-card at the end of my stay, that they will re-use it.  He did say that they eventually wear out.  So I don’t think my impunity is complete here.

I’m a little worried about how the catering is going to look at the meeting tomorrow, especially because I requested gluten-free stuff so they’ll probably put it in its own packaging.  Stay-tuned…

Mission: Travel with zero-plastic-consumption

I decided I needed to try traveling without consuming plastic.  Here I am on the plane to LAX having not ‘consumed’ any plastic yet.  What do I mean by “consumed”?  I basically mean that I don’t buy or accept anything that has plastic in it.  So far so good.  I packed lots of snacks (although I ate them all already) and managed to get my drink on the plane without the plastic cup.  In this frame of mind I can tell you that the Philadelphia airport looked like shop after shop selling plastic-wrapped stuff.  There was plastic everywhere I looked – plastic water bottles, fruit-cups in plastic, candy in plastic, styrofoam take-out containers, plastic silverware.  I discovered that if you BUY NOTHING it’s pretty easy to not buy plastic.  When you actually get hungry it gets a little trickier.  I have with me a set of silverware and a mug, so if I found take-out that came in paper or cardboard, I might be able to get take-out.  My thought, however, is that I’m just going to actually sit down and eat in restaurants instead of get stuff to take away.  This is going to seriously interrupt my usual style of grab and go.  Perhaps that’s a good thing.

The other extra things I packed that I don’t usually are (1)soap, in case the hotel soap comes in plastic and (2) shampoo for the same reason.  For clarity, my shampoo bottle is plastic, but it was purchased last year and I am regarding it as a permanent item in my life.

For those of you just tuning in, or perhaps for those of you who have forgotten what’s going on here because it’s been so long since my last post, the idea behind all of this is to spend a year regarding plastic items as items that are with us for the long haul on the earth – as things that will last 1,000 or 10,000 years, because they probably will – rather than as cheap things that can be disposed of easily.

Landing in LAX is going to be an interesting test, because I’m going to be starving and tired and will need food.  Stay tuned….


For toothpaste so far we’ve been settling for a natural toothpaste that comes in a metal tube with a plastic cap.   It has fluoride, which is important to me (but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise) because…how shall I say it….our kids have a butt-load of cavities.  I’ve been threatening to make toothpaste, but, I just discovered that Betty Kloppenburg at AllThingsNew makes all this stuff locally (laundry detergent, household cleaning products, toothpaste, etc) and is willing to package it in anything I want.  Her toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride but maybe I can figure that out somehow (get the chemists on my floor to make me some?).

Little House on the Prairie

The girls are letting me read Little House on the Prairie to them at bedtime which I am loving, but tonight when I realized that Pa built a whole house with an ax, a hammer, and some nails, using raw materials he found around him, I started feeling a little silly for congratulating myself for managing to SHOP without plastic.


Can you color Easter eggs without that PAAS kit?  Yes!  We used onion skins, dandelions and beets.  We can’t take the credit for the idea – Jess King posted some beautiful eggs this year died in similar ways, and my mom sent around a picture a couple years ago with her gorgeous rendition.  The girls loved it.

Can you keep grandparents from doing whatever they want?  Not really.   I think we should give them credit because they would’ve sent a lot MORE plastic if we hadn’t been doing zero-plastic influx.

Getting Interesting

It’s been a long time, sorry!  The grocery shopping at Lemon Street Market and Central Market has become pretty easy.  It’s almost second nature to bring containers for everything that we are going to need.  Some interesting items have come up though.

We need new sheets for our bed as ours are falling apart.  As far as we can tell you can’t buy sheets without them coming in that big plastic wrapper.  Apart from getting them used, I think we might have to make them.  For now we are making do with using some sheets that don’t quite fit our bed – a flat sheet instead of a fitted sheet, etc.  If you’ve ever tried that, you know that it sort of works, but can be annoying.  Pretty soon I’m going to actually do some sewing and try to fashion something that actually clings to the bed.  The funny thing is that I remember my dad fashioning some crazy thing like that when I was little and I thought he was crazy and I thought I would never do anything so silly when one could just go out and buy sheets.

We knew that the time would come when we had to make choices about our health and the health of our children, and we promised not to sacrifice anybody’s health to our game.  When the girls needed new toothbrush heads for their electric toothbrushes, I bought them.  We have too many cavity issues to revert to regular brushes.  One small victory, however, is that the dentist recommended disclosing tablets so we could see where the plaque was after they brushed.  I found a distributor of disclosing tablets that packs them in cellophane, not plastic.  100% biodegradable!   I also got diagnosed with a vitamin-D deficiency and the one they wanted me to take came in INDIVIDUALLY wrapped plastic packets.  Sheesh.  Anyway, I bought them.

I had an amusing call from the local newspaper.  They said, “We’d like to get you back on our regular delivery.  We have a special deal for you…..”  I let her finish and then I said, “We’ll start back up just as soon as you can deliver them in something other than plastic.”  There was a pause while she came to terms with the fact that this excuse was nowhere on her script.  She responded, “That’s the only way we do it!”  And I said, “Okay, well, as soon as you figure out another way, call me back!”  And I hung up.  My uncle just pointed out that we should see if we can make a newspaper delivery box like people used to have (and maybe still do?).  Then we could assure them that even if it were delivered without a bag that it would still stay dry.  I think I actually like not getting the paper, so this might not be one I push on.

I also would like to admit that I haven’t managed to not consume plastic when I travel on business.  Next business trip I go on (May 2) I’m going to try to not consume/use/purchase plastic the whole trip.  I’ll have to bring my own mug for Starbucks, not get any Kind bars there either, not have a drink on the plane, and not order any food to take-out.