Plastics Are Bumming Me Out

Plastics Are Bumming Me Out

Last week at an after-work reception, I met Lisa Boyle, the co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition.  We talked about food when we met, not plastic.  At home, I looked at her card and thought, “I’m actually really good about not using plastic.”

That may be a true statement, but it weighed on me like it may have been uttered from a space of denial. I’m a fairly responsible consumer, I don’t drink many bottled drinks, I have a stainless steel water bottle, I shop at the farmer’s markets with my own bags, how much more Southern California can I be? What’s in my kitchen that is plastic?

Well, just about everything. Even worse, silicone heat-safe spatulas are invaluable to me while baking. They do everything, and well. Uh oh.

I flip and scrub my vegetables with plastic.

There’s a lot I don’t know about plastics, which means there’s a lot to be skeptical of. Plastics are combinations of chemicals leaching into your food, including the new BPA-free varieties, which by the way I rushed out to buy. Plastics are not recycled nearly as much as paper and glass, and if you take a stroll on the beach you can view just one of their environmental costs. I could go on. My motivation to single out plastics is more to reduce my exposure to chemicals than to save beaches, but if you believe in harm reduction theory, it doesn’t matter how you get to reducing your habits, it’s just that you do, somehow.

I told Lisa I was writing this post, and she sent me to Beth Terry’s website, My Plastic-Free Life, which chronicles a household reducing plastics and is a resource for replacing those things with non-plastic solutions. From there, I put together the below.

My biggest plastic culprit? Yogurt containers. I eat a lot of it, and haven’t found it sold in glass.  So, this week, enter a yogurt maker that comes with glass jars. Yes, it is a plastic appliance, but this solves a big plastic food container problem (see: fear of ingesting chemicals, above), and, bonus new fun project, I’m going to learn how to make yogurt. If you’re a friend, you’re going to be receiving some yogurt in the future.

Then, on to three categories.
Trader Joe’s over-packaged produce aisle. Gone.  Snack foods, gone, she said, after absentmindedly going downstairs for a single-serve cup of applesauce in between paragraphs. True story. Lunches, a one-time buy of a stainless steel lunch kit: found here. Carry my stainless travel mug around religiously, done. Refuse straws when I’m out, done.
Where to store the leafy greens that I buy all the time? Baggies and cling film? What replaces those?
Next to impossible:
Occasional-use plastics like my beloved OXO salad spinner where I store my greens, and the silicone utensils. Those work really well for me, and it seems counter-productive to get rid of an item to consume another item that works similarly.

Dear readers, help! What does your kitchen plastic consumption look like? Tell me about some of your plastics, and some of the things you do to keep plastic out of your lives. I want all the dirty details.

Et tu, honey bear?