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Interview with Plastic-Free Beth

Posted on October 3, 2012

PrestonBy Micaela Preston

This was originally posted on Micaela’s blog, Mindful Momma

This may sound weird, but my friend Beth comes with me whenever I go shopping, whether it's at the grocery, or Target or wherever I happen to be. She's not with me physically, but in my mind. You see Beth lives her life devoted to using as little plastic as possible. She is the founder of the blog My Plastic-free Life and author of the new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Beth is a diligent researcher and has found solutions to almost every plastic situation she is confronted with. A few highlights from the book include:

  • How to store fruits and vegetables without plastic
  • DIY recipes for liquid soap, cough syrup, homemade chocolate syrup and more
  • Tutorial for making a cloth bag out of a t-shirt
  • "Show Your Plastic Challenge" worksheet
  • Inspiring stories of Plastic-Free Heros who have paved the way
  • 9 reasons our personal changes matter

I asked Beth a few questions about her journey:

Q: After rooming with you at BlogHer, I am amazed at your dedication to refusing anything that contains plastic. Which products have been most difficult to find a plastic-free version of? Are there some things you have simply had to live without? 

When I started this project, I was a junk food/convenience food addict.  I didn't want to cook. Instead, I lived on frozen microwaveable meals and energy bars wrapped in plastic. I searched and searched for frozen foods not packaged in plastic, but finally, I had to accept that all containers that are leakproof contain some kind of plastic.  Even cardboard containers are lined with plastic. So I had to learn to eat whole foods, which was so much better for me! I never found a plastic-free energy bar either, but I did find recipes for homemade ones.

Q: Many of us have already made the switch to reusable bags and bottles. What are a few other products that are easy to find plastic-free but that we might not think about?

I've found all kinds of surprising plastic-free products. I carry a glass drinking straw, use a stainless steel ice cube tray, make popsicles with a stainless steel mold, buy lip balm in ingenious compostable cardboard tubes, use cloth produce bags and sandwich baggies, and even found plastic-free chewing gum. Most people don't realize that the majority of chewing gum--even "natural" gums like Glee--contain plastic in the gum base.

Q: I personally find that product packaging is one of the hardest places to avoid plastic. What are some tips for finding products without plastic packaging?

For food items, shop farmers markets and stores with bulk bins that will let you bring your own bags and containers instead of taking plastic bags. For durable goods, buying secondhand and renting or borrowing can avoid a lot of the packaging from new products and also reduce your consumption overall. And when you do need to buy something new, write to companies before ordering online to ask for products to be shipped without plastic packaging and write to product manufacturers asking them to change their packaging. I have one story in the book describing how I was actually successful in encouraging a company to change.

Q: Your Take Back the Filter campaign was a huge success! Should we be lobbying our favorite businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic? Will they listen?

Yes! They will listen the more of us speak up.  The Take Back The Filter campaign was an action to get Clorox, the owner of the Brita water filter company in North America, to create a recycling program for its plastic cartridges.  We wrote letters to the company executive committee members (which we found in their annual report), created a website, created a petition (and got over 16,000 signatures), opened a post office box and had people from all over North America send us their used filters, contacted every blogger we knew, contacted every environmental group we thought might help us promote the campaign, contacted the media and even got a mention in the New York Times!  Within 8 months, I got a call from the Brita brand manager to let me know they had developed a way to recycle Brita filters. They really just needed to know that enough people cared.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too- you'll be surprised at how much you can change in your life with minimal effort. I am thankful to Beth for being the voice in my head, helping me to make the best decisions for my family and the planet!

What do you do to reduce plastic usage in your life?


Comments

For durable goods, buying secondhand and renting or borrowing can avoid a lot of the packaging from new products and also reduce your consumption overall.

Posted by: plastic bottles | Jan 13, 2013 2:50:40 AM

I was searching for the book how I kicked the plastic Habit and here I get it. I got many information in it.

Posted by: Pacific Plastics | Oct 30, 2012 4:45:47 AM

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