There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick links helpful:
Last week we returned to a previous challenge which asked us to avoid plastic produce bags. At this time of year it's pretty easy for me because we grow many of our own herbs and veggies ... and what we don't grow we buy at the farmer's market, placing everything in our reusable bags. The second part of the challenge, however, wasn't so easy. In fact, the only way to avoid plastic altogether was to not buy anything. While that technically met the goal, it falls short in my mind because we should be able to find Eco-friendly packaging. It is disturbing to see plastic everywhere. Even when items are sold in boxes or earth-friendly bags, there is typically a plastic "window". The challenge did, once again, raise my awareness ... and that's the first step to change.
The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Here's what they had to say:
In this POST Argentum Vulgaris (AV) begins by adding a few more thoughts to Mrs. Green's "Use It Up" challenge. He talks a bit about produce ... which items can be refrigerated and which cannot. He also includes a brilliant use for "tired" vegetables called verdurette which is a kind of no-cook vegetable stock. He adds a link to the recipe which seems quite easy. AV then gives us a status on this week's activities and shares some great news about changes being made in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Pat shares that her big obstacle is forgetting her reusable bags in the car. Can I ever relate to that, Pat! My solution, since it seems that I'll NEVER remember to take them in with me, is simply not to bother. Instead, I ask the cashier to put everything back in the cart and then, when I get to the car, I bag it myself in my own bags. Cashiers love it ... saves them work. While this ARTICLE by Pat wasn't written specifically for our challenge, I think it really applied. What do you think? By the way ... Pat did remember her reusable bag on a recent trip to Walmart. WhooHoo!
I loved this PHOTO by letswastelessnel (aka @rubbishgeek on twitter). Proof of her efforts this week! :-)
Alicia has reusable bags but found that she needed smaller ones for produce. So, she repurposed some children's T-shirts into small produce bags. Brilliant ... and the soft T-shirt material will protect even the most tender items. Alicia also shares that even though she and her family try to avoid plastic, it seems to creep in. So this week she's going to be extra diligent in avoiding it. Yay!
Brenna accepted the challenge and had this to say "If I can help it I always refuse to use the plastic produce bags. Produce like apples, pears, or oranges make it easy even though I am not always sure the grocery checkers like it too much. With the smaller fruits & veggies it gets more difficult. We have reusable bags, but I don't always have them with me for spontaneous shopping. This week I am willing to take on the challenge! Question: what do you do about produce that only comes in a plastic bag or container?" That's a great question, Brenna ... anyone have tips? I typically search out the produce guy and ask him if he has any items which haven't been wrapped. I've found that sometimes the wrapping happens at the store itself ... if that's the case, they are usually willing to let you choose from the box. Other items come wrapped from the distributor ... in those cases, I write letters & emails. I haven't been successful in getting them to change but ... at least they know I'd rather not see my produce wrapped. Maybe if we all wrote???
Mrs. Green is a zero-waste expert ... in fact, she and her family send very little to the landfill. That means careful purchases with an eye to packaging. So you might be surprised to find out that she scored her efforts "a big, fat zero". Find out why HERE.
Clare said this on Facebook "My week-end project, sew muslin produce bags!" Nice!
Our Twitter friends shared their thoughts:
- Save odds & ends of bread, buns, etc. in one bag in the freezer & use them for making bread pudding, stuffing, croutons...
- Have overripe bananas & no time to make muffins? Store them in the freezer until you have time & enough for double batches
- Have a "buffet" night with the week's leftovers. Presentation is important. Perk things up by including small fresh salad on the menu
- When the ketchup gets low, it's time to make my bbq meatballs The sauce calls for ketchup & red wine vinegar. Rinse bottle w/vinegar
- Tired fresh veggies are gr8 for soup. Tired fresh fruit works for smoothies or make "sweet" dressing w/balsamic 4 spinach salad
- Divide cheese into smaller chunks and vacuum seal for longer "shelf life" in the fridge.
- Keep eggs in their carton instead of the door of the fridge. They will stay fresh much longer
- Download a list of substitutes & equivalents for recipes. Often times you can avoid a trip to the store & use up what you have on hand
- Say no to #plastic. I shop at stores that give me a discount for bringing my own reusable shopping bags.
- Mesh, zippered bags that are typically used for washing delicates are ideal as reusable produce bags
- When at the store I was in a lineup where the clerk was a trainee & trainer was encouraging them to use more #plastic bags than needed
- Remember to wash your reusable grocery shopping bags regularly.
- I found brand new reusable shopping bags at a 2nd hand store. They were promotional items that were left over & donated. 8 for $3
- Any suggestions for eliminating plastic poop bags for dogs? We use biodegradable but still #plastic.
- Plastic bags R in short supply here, other than reusable vac seal food storage bags.Think biodegradable is order 4 dog stuff
- I mostly use cloth bags but some are like a tarp material that stand up to anything. For those I wipe them down with vinegar.
- Bought an under bed storage box today and put all the other shopping in it! No plastic bags!
- Would find no plastic at all hard work! But I'll give it a go!
- Ouch. Oh dear. Ummm yeah - better get some advice from @PlasticfreeBeth
- I usually do my food shopping online, but give the plastic bags back to the driver for recycling
- I've been using baskets & cloth bags since 1997! This is an easy one...:) Happy #CTWW day!
- I store my lettuces, kale and herbs in a glass bowl (or glass) of water in the fridge, not produce bags. Keeps veggies fresher longer.
The following is a conversation between @wheeliesmom and @j4lyn:
- We eliminate #plastic produce bags by growing our own & heading to #farmersmarket for the rest
- Yes, but many will never do that. We should force stores to use paper.
- most people here bring their own bags. Should be a deposit charged on #plastic. Nobody will forget cloth.
- Of course, best to bring your own. But for those who forget, paper should be the ONLY option.
- the plastic lobby easily buys the argument that it is unfair discrimination. #true issue w paper
- Discrimination. That's rich... Such a great example tho of just how f****d up the system is. pfft
- Did u see the film #bagit? It talks about that.
- No I have not, but I will make a note. :-)
- How about reusing bags oranges come in...the "net" bags
The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:
My Final Thoughts:
Plastic is pervasive ... it's everywhere and seems to touch everything. It often feels like an uphill battle to avoid it. But here's a thought ... people began refusing plastic bags and now reusable bags are common. Cities across the world are beginning to ban them in supermarkets. So if we refuse plastic produce bags ... perhaps we'll see progress there, too. If we write letters to distributors who wrap fresh produce in shrink-wrap or plastic cartons and tell them we hate it ... maybe they'll eventually listen. “The road to success runs uphill” ... Willie Davis.
Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.
This Week's Challenge:
This week's challenge is going to be fun. It was suggested by Jennifer (aka @noteasy2begreen) who picked it up from @CelloMomOnCars who found it by way of @lutzfernandez. Here you go:
This week we're going to track the driving trips which WE DON'T TAKE. Yep ... for every time that you walk, ride a bike or simply choose not to make a trip, keep track of it (you can download an Excel tracking chart HERE). At the end of the week, please come back and share how many miles you didn't drive (and money saved, etc, if you also track that information). We'd also like to hear about your strategy for meeting this challenge. This is based on an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Road Not Taken May Be a Key to Driving Less.
I think this challenge is going to be a real eye-opener!
If you have a challenge idea, please send it to me HERE. I keep all ideas and will get to each and every one.
Until next time ...
WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!