Here, There, Everywhere

Day two of Plastic free July and already I have been thwarted. There are better products than plastic, why does everything have to be made from a petroleum process? I first wanted to show you how I travel simply. When I dumped the contents out to photograph I was stunned to see so much plastic in one place. I thought I was doing well, until that moment.

First an update, I am doing well eating raw foods today. Some peas were ready to pick, a handful of radishes and of course more strawberries. I was able to pick some lettuce and spinach for a nice salad as well.

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Here is how I carry my hygiene products when I travel. You may remember the red bag, it’s one of the fabric bags I made for Christmas gifts to avoid wrapping paper. No sense packing it away to use only once a year.

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Here is what I took with me for a week. A wooden brush with gum rubber bristles, my plastic toothbrush, a comb that I’ve had since the late 1970s when I was in school studying Cosmetology, and an old pill bottle filled with baking soda to brush my teeth and wash my hair, the only deodorant I like. Then there is the disposable razor which is several years old.

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It’s not like I bought any of these recently, I just have had a hard time tossing them or finding suitable replacements. To extend the life of the toothbrush I soak it in hydrogen peroxide once a week. No tossing out a toothbrush just because I had a cold.

Then today I needed to purchase paint. Finding paint was easy, there was even a sale going on this week so I saved a few dollars.

Store brand still comes in metal cans.

Store brand still comes in metal cans.

But primer which I really needed for a project I have was another story. I have always used Kilz, but it is now sold in a plastic can with a metal lid. I looked for another brand and found Zinsser. It too came in a plastic can. I asked if there were any other brand they could order for me, but after going through the computer of available products I was told all the brand of primer come in a plastic can. I gave up, I needed primer. Yes I came home with a plastic can.

Number 5 plastic containers for all primer I found.

Number 5 plastic containers for all primer I found.

As I’ve mentioned before, plastic can only be recycled once then it ends up in the landfill. So while I came home with plastic it will be repurposed when it is empty, maybe a flower-pot, toy storage for a child.

Love to know what uses you have found for plastic “cans”.

36 thoughts on “Here, There, Everywhere

  1. Plastic is a real problem, I’ve replaced lots of things with non-plastic alternatives but it’s a real challenge. Here’s a post from a blog I follow that’s helpful for finding a tooth brush, http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/05/eco-friendly-toothbrush-review-and-giveaway/. I think all this anti-germ hysteria is just that and if you research all the anti-bacterial lotions, soaps etc you will see all we are doing is breeding very dangerous and resistant bacterias like MERSA. Now we don’t have antibiotics to fight some of these bacterias because of our absolute abuse of antibiotics!
    PS Great post!

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    • Thank you Jayne. I just read the link you provided to Beth Terry’s website. The information is very similar to what she included in the book on toothbrushes. I too subscribe to this blog, but hadn’t caught this one. Do you use a sustainable toothbrush? I need to make up my mind and finally purchase one so I’d be interested in what you could add.

      Antibacterial products are such a problem and one thing I won’t allow in my house or use anywhere. Not only are we breaking down our immune system using this stuff but in areas where homes have a septic tank it is preventing our waste from properly breaking down, which is do e naturally by microbes. We have a lot of homes around here on septic systems, they are having to pump out their systems more often than they used to.

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  2. I wonder if you could recycle the paint pots as planters for flowers (I’m not sure I’d want to put edibles in them in case they absorbed the chemicals from the primer). Or perhaps you could collect a lot of plastic containers and make them into a scarecrow to protect your vegies!

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  3. It is amazing to me how pervasive plastic is now a days. I have never tried to do what you are doing, but I can see just how challenging it is. I feel good if I am recycling just the obvious stuff. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. At least you are raising awareness. I have learned so much be reading your blog.

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    • Thank you, Elaine. It is so hard to avoid all plastic just as its hard to avoid other problems we must live with. I am striving not to bring in any more new plastic as it is petroleum based and never completely breaks down. At the same time if I can’t pass it on I try to use it as long as possible to keep it out of the trash.

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  4. It is a lofty goal to eliminate plastic from your life. I’ve tried, several times, to eliminate it but it’s next to impossible. I wandered through the market, once, just to see how many items I could find which didn’t have plastic on the packaging. I thought I had found some … organic dried pasta in a cardboard box. But then, I noticed the plastic “window”. Ugh! There are containers, like pill bottles, that drive me insane … I don’t see why they can’t come in a paper bag or even a small cardboard pill box. Imagine all those little pill bottles … filling up our landfills. Unfortunately, plastic can’t really be recycled … the best they can do is upcycle it into a new product … and then, as you said, only once. That means that even though people toss plastic into the recycle bin, new virgin plastic materials will be used to create more of the original item. So the demand never goes away. I have a few plastic “cans” from a LONG time ago. We use them to plant peppers … we hang them from the rafters on our patio (we are gardening vertically in our small space). The peppers thrive in them … I suppose because they hold in the heat.

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    • Small Footprints, I’m going to have to try peppers in them next year thanks for the idea.

      As for pill bottles, years ago the pharmacies used to take them back. One my grandmother frequented gave her .25 off her bill per bottle. That was before recycling was available. Today, they don’t want them back. There is no way they would give you pills in a bag or cardboard box with the concerns of children getting into them. I have to take one medication, I had to sign a release to get the bottle without a child safety cap on it.

      Plastic is a huge problem. Today at the farmers market on person offered to take my reusable bag and fill it with my purchases. I thought that was nice as I had my hands full. When I got home I saw he put every thing in plastic bags. I was so mad! But like you said it’s much worse at the stores, I’ll just be more vigilant from now on

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  5. I have been frustrated by coffee cans which are made of cardboard with a metal bottom and a plastic lid! I use my toothbrushes until they wear down – as you’ve all said, you develop immunity to each cold virus. I’m sure the day-to-day bacteria can get yucky, though, so thorough cleanings are in order!

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  6. I understand your concerns about plastics, but i wonder about the costs environmentally and energy wise of the metal substitutes? I haven’t looked into that issue recently, but I know there are things to consider in every choice of material that we chose.

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    • You are so right, Live and Learn. The only difference is the metals can be recycled more often than plastic. I do wonder about the process of obtaining metals, but we live in a world where we must make trade-offs. A metal paint can as I see it doesn’t pose the same issues plastic does. In addition plastic is a petroleum product. I need to do some research on the percentage of oil used to make plastic vs what we need to heat homes or for transportation. But as we are depleting the oil reserves I try to eliminate my dependency on oil of all types.

      If you do research the costs of manufacturing metals I’d love to learn from you, please share.

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      • Metal items – people seem to hold onto them for longer, both an issue of durability and aesthetics. Plastic breaks off from the visible levels to tiny particles that we can’t even see with bare eyes, so here comes the issue of maintenance. If you can’t recycle it, don’t buy it!

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        • I agree with you that metal is much more durable and in a perfect world I wouldn’t have ever brought these items into my home in the first place. I do have one question for you, do you see recycling as the answer? I see it as the last resort. Yes, I recycle what I need to but I keep hearing how a lot of what we think is being recycled isn’t. I have a post for next week on this subject.

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    • I knew you would, Pirate. Its getting so difficult to avoid plastic. Here I am trying to restore other peoples trash to save it from the landfills and at the same time reduce consumption when someone chooses a restored item rather than buying new and I end up buying plastic. It’s just wrong.

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  7. Wow, I’ve never thought to throw out a toothbrush after a cold! There you go. Yeah some things, there’s just no way around the plastic. I’m cheering how long you’ve have that toothbrush & razor for – nice work!

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    • Sarah, here in the US we are told to toss out our toothbrushes every 3 months and every time we vet a cold or are sick as our toothbrushes are breeding grounds for bacteria. We are told that if we use our toothbrush after being sick we will get sick again. Nice scare tactic but I don’t buy it.

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      • What a marketing campaign! We have a similar one with pillows – one company earmarks them for replacement every two years, and now dates them! I don’t doubt both pillows and toothbrushes breed nasties, but they are MY nasties… And if I get sick again, I probably wasn’t better/strong enough yet. I will no buy into this. I only ‘demote to cleaning’ a toothbrush when it’s frayed to all heck!

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        • Sarah, that is the way I see it too. Once we have a virus or cold we built up immunity to it, but I do like to know my toothbrush is free of bacteria when I put it in my mouth, the whole point is to clean my mouth which is why I give it a good soaking.

          Pillows being tagged reminds me of the dating on car seats. They are made of plastic so never break down, but we are told they have to be replaced, no longer ate we allowed to pass them down. Nothing but a way to make us part with more money and fill up more landfills. All this does is create more unnecessary waste.

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      • Irrational claims by the toothbrush manufacturers since if a person has been sick they build immunity in most cases to the virus or bacteria. Your toothbrush method is a good policy.

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        • Alex, if we look closely at any of these ridiculous warnings we would see its just a way to sell us more of their product. In the case of items which they can’t find a way to create a product that will break after a certain amount of time they come up with scare tactics or get the government to regulate a limit on use, ie car seats.

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