Tag Archives: plastic

The No Plastic Diet

Antiplasticarian – noun
1. A person who refrains from eating foods which are wrapped or bagged in plastic.

I realized that if I make up words for not using plastic, like antiplasticarian or sustainatarian, people think it’s a “real thing” and accept it.

I’ve also realized there are immense health benefits that result as a side effect of simply not buying food that comes wrapped in plastic, in the same way vegans benefit from strictly denying any products that come from animals in any way.

Sticking with the No Plastic Diet, aka being antiplasticarian, gives you many health benefits, including:
– avoid meats, except fresh from the docks fish, or straight from the local butcher.
– avoid most manufactured foods
– avoid most foods intended for long shelf life
– and about everything else in the modern supermarket.

It’s easier to list what IS available. It’s easy to see the positive health effects that not buying plastic could have:

  • Antiplasticarians can ONLY buy in bulk, from the vegetable and fruit aisle and from farmer’s markets.
  • We usually must buy from the source, unless the product is shipped in a cardboard or paper container, such as milk, eggs and other boxed or canned goods. Some boxed goods have plastic bags inside them, so we are aware to watch out for those.
  • We usually cannot indulge in quick to-go baked goods or foods. Try going to a Starbucks or gas station and easily turn down the junk food temptation by simply remembering that you do not eat things wrapped in plastic.

    We are forced to make meals from scratch and using fresh, local ingredients.
  • We must remember not to over order so that we are not in need of a styrofoam to-go container.
  • Forget drinking sodas. You can also forget about starring in a diabeetus commercial Wilford Brently
  • Starring Wilford Brimly.


  • No solo cups or plastic cups means less alcohol consumption at bars and parties.

Now you can be the coolest person at the bar and drink from a flask.

  • You have to buy (or make) fresh baked bread. Awful, I know.
  • Basically everything big food corporations want us to consume is off limits to antiplasticarians. Sorry, we won’t become addicted to junk food.

The Year Without Plastic encompasses more than just food, but eating is the most difficult habit to change, since we have the impulse to consume multiple times of day, and usually stop at nothing to get a quick bite.

If you are giving this diet a try, let me know how it goes!


Plastic Landmines and Family Time

I've started a Plog (plastic log) on my phone to track all the times I use plastic and defy the rules I've set out to follow. I think of them as plastic land mines. They happen when I least expect it. Things got kind of ugly last week while I was visiting my family in Atlanta.

Here's the usage breakdown: 1 bag, 1 salad container, 2 forks, 3 dressing packets and a straw.

There's a few things to watch out for in the anti plastic crusade. Things people hand to you when you least expect it and walk away before you can give it back.

The following items sneak up on you, even when you are trying to be fully aware of your plastic usage:

  1. Salad Dressing containers
    remedy: ask to share a salad dressing with someone else or just have them put it directly on the salad (usually half as much as they normally would think to use)
  2. Plastic forks
    Remedy: this is definitely out of the ordinary, but carry a fork around. I'm going to start carrying a fold-up fork / spoon / knife combo (if I can find it…I was saving it for a camping trip).
  3. Straws
    Remedy: ask for no straw, or have a metal or reusible straw on hand.
  4. Plastic bags
    Remedy: double check that you have your reusable bags. Carry things in your hand.
  5. Styrofoam cups
    Remedy: bring your own mug / cup
  6. plastic lids
    Remedy: ask for no lid or bring your own mug / cup
  7. plastic cups
    Remedy: ask for a real cup or bring a travel water bottle
  8. Styrofoam and plastic to-go containers
    Remedy: order smaller portions or share a meal if you are eating out.

The easy remedy for all of this stuff is just don't eat out or eat fast food. When you do, ask before you order and clarify you are getting reusable materials. Remember that waiters are working for your tip and are glad to accommodate you.

I am totally fine with cutting out fast food. That stuff nasty anyways. Mmm hmmm.

Artist Toge-nyc crafts a plastic utensil dragon

It was a tough week in the fight against plastic, being in a group of people who offer to buy me things on the reg. But all hope is not lost. When someone says it's impossible to live without using plastic, remember that just means it takes a little planning and persistence.

Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes and the Fight Against Corporations

Plastic is not just invading our oceans, but is finding it's way to our fresh water lakes as well. One recent discovery made by the 5 Gyres Institute in Lake Erie found more than 450,000 micro polyethylene beads per square kilometer. Please excuse my switching from mile to KM in these articles. We are going through a transition here in the US to the metric system, and it's one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

The amazing thing about this discovery and the 5 Gyres Institute? The findings lead the institute to launch a massive grassroots campaign asking producers of these products (personal care products which contain plastic beads as an exfoliant) to eliminate plastic micro-beads in favor of natural alternatives.

"After reporting their scientific findings to companies that utilize micro-beads, the 5 Gyres Insitute has won several key victories that will help protect the Great Lakes ecosystem. Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, The Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive have all pledged to remove these synthetic beads from their products by 2015. The 5 Gyres Institute has also received a pledge from Proctor & Gamble to phase out these beads by 2017, but the campaigning for an earlier phase-out continues." – http://ecowatch.com/2013/5-gyres-sets-sail-study-plastic-pollution-lake-michigan/

This is awesome! Corporations are paying attention to their findings and the grassroots campaigns. Here's a blog update from the 5 Gyres celebrating Victory #2 against Johnson & Johnson: http://5gyres.org/posts/2013/06/04/victory_2/ – Johnson & Johnson will phase out the use of plastic micro-beads.

Check out this video the 5 Gyres Institute put together. Over the course of four weeks, students and researchers lived and worked aboard a 200 year old sailing ship, conducting surface trawls and beach transects. They made the startling discovery that plastic pollution is not limited to our oceans: 5 Gyres Institute video

You Have The Power To Change The World

This week is Ocean week here at Year Without Plastic. Let's all take a moment and think about how awesome the ocean is, and how we all want it to not turn into a pile of sludge that only breeds three eyed fish and radioactive monsters. While that would be cool, let's save it for The Simpsons and sci fi movies.

I'm posting a bunch of facts on Twitter, a few infographics here on the blog, and I'll hopefully conclude the week with some nice photos of the ocean in Boston and Rhode Island. It's really spectacular. Beauty as far as the eye can see. Nothing matters when you're at the beach. Life is perfect. But a little beyond the horizon, we all know there's a little problem that we are adding to every day, known as the 5 gyers. Just because we can't see the filth doesn't mean we should ignore.

I'm going to repost something I found that's pretty spot on. These posts are not intended to bring on depression. Depression doesn't lead to action. These posts are meant to anger you, because anger is healthy in that it leads you to action. You take a stance. You draw a line in the sand and you stand for what you believe in.

tl;dr: If you use plastic, you have the power to change the world in one easy step.

Step 1: Stop using so much plastic. Go with reusable shopping bags and drinking bottles, instead.

Here's the post written by Phil Kramer, originally published on March 25th, 2010

Phil Kramer is the director of The Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean program. The Conservancy is working with countries across the region to meet the promise of the Caribbean Challenge. If successful, the Challenge will place more than 21 million acres of ocean, beaches, coral reefs and mangroves into national parks and protected areas.

After so many years as a marine scientist, I’m no longer surprised at the things that wash ashore on beaches around the world.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of those things are man-made and shouldn’t be there.

Most of it has – unfortunately – come to be expected: derelict fishing equipment, disposable plastic bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, bits of unidentifiable plastic, Styrofoam.

All of it is deadly to marine animals – whales, sharks, sea turtles and sea birds.

Some of the trash is ironic (a child’s backpack I spotted, emblazoned with Marlin and Dory from the move Finding Nemo, comes immediately to mind). Some of it is famous, like the Nike shoes (swept overboard from a cargo ship) that were still wearable after bobbing in the ocean for 3 years. (The average athletic shoe can float for 10 years.)

Much of our trash seems to end up accumulating in large gyres in the Pacific Ocean. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between Hawaii and California is the size of Texas and the biggest threat to nesting albatrosses and their chicks on remote atolls of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Imagine: The entire state of Texas as a landfill. (Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Don’t Mess with Texas.”)

National Geographic recently reported the discovery of the “Atlantic Garbage Patch.” It covers 1,000 miles off the East Coast of the United States. Much of the debris is tiny bits of discarded plastic and trash; most of it weighs less than a paperclip and floats near the surface. Imagine what it must be like for a baby loggerhead sea turtle making his way out to the Atlantic and having to come up for air in that plastic soup.

Are you depressed yet? I’m not. Sad, yes. Depressed, no.

For one thing, depression rarely motivates people to actually do something about the problem that’s depressing them. They watch TV instead.

For another, I don’t think we have to live like this. Sometimes when a problem seems so, well, global, we think there’s nothing we can do.

But this is actually a problem where every individual’s actions matter. So, good news: If you use plastic, you have the power to change the world in one easy step.

Step 1: Stop using so much plastic. Go with reusable shopping bags and drinking bottles, instead.

It’s a simple matter of volume:

Consider all of the people in your neighborhood who shop.
Now consider what would happen if everyone committed to using reusable bags and drinking bottles.
Now think of everyone in your town, your city, your state, your country, your continent, your world — all of them doing what you’re doing….That is a tremendous amount of disposable plastic that never has the opportunity to escape and wreak havoc on marine life.
All because people made a simple change to their daily lives. Our choices matter. Each of us has more power to affect our world — for good and for bad — than we know.

I know, because I’ve seen it.

Flying Without Plastic

Some people go to extremes to stay true to their beliefs, like this ultra orthodox Jew flying in a plastic bag.

Orthodox Jew flying in plastic


I have utmost respect for people who put their traditions and beliefs before comforts and social norms, but realize sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

With my pledge to live without the convenience of plastic containers, wraps and bags for the next year, I am still formulating my rules. All the while I am following a mantra that stays true. The mantra will guide me in my decisions. If the plastic I am considering using is not intended to last and be useful to me for a long period of time, then I should not consume it. However, obviously if I’m in a situation where there are extreme risks, I’ll bend these rules. Maybe even light risks. I’ll figure it out when I get there. A potential example could be: buying a fresh bottle of water in Peru vs filling up my canteen in a sink. I really hate South American stomach sickness aka Montezuma’s Revenge.

During a flight about a month ago to Norway, before taking the year without plastic pledge, I chose to decline all in-flight goods due to the ridiculousness of the products and trash they generate. However, on the return flight from Norway, I couldn’t resist the Biscoff cookies, and then went for a drink as well. In fact, I had coffee and tea. And pretzels. And an inflight meal. Why not? I’m flying, am mildly discomforted, and I need to have small moments of sweet and salty happiness. I found myself using about 6 different plastic and styrofoam cups throughout the trip. And then the stewardess comes around and dumps everything into trash bags. Out of sight, out of mind. Just like the rest of our lives in modern society, someone else comes along and cleans up our mess, and we never see it again. People pay good money to never have to worry about any of their actions.

This past weekend, I took my first flight after embarking on the Year Without Plastic. On my recent flight from Boston to Atlanta,  I  successfully resisted all the temptations. No ginger ale, pretzels, peanuts, coffee, tea or Biscoff cookies (I’ll miss you dearly!)Biscoff Cookies and delta

Can you spend 10-20 minutes to eat a meal before your flight or prepare some in flight food in a container that will not be immediately thrown into a landfill? Can you handle the feeling of slight hunger as you forego the plane food? I’ll admit, we are not used to such constraints in the US. If we are even the slightest bit hungry, we eat. If there’s no food, we complain. We get angry. As a remedy to all these problems that we think we have, all it takes is a little planning.