Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Okay, so I’ll say this upfront: I’m probably going to take some shit for not thinking about this fact before starting my pledge off plastic:

Most clothing has plastic in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t go clothing shopping very often—maybe once or twice per year. As a result, I don’t tend to think about these things, which leads me to how this realization came crashing down on me.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Subway buying my normal sandwich before class. I was very specific in asking the sandwich-maker to not give me a bag, which led him to ask, “why?” He had scraggly hair and a half-dozen piercings. He seemed like a bit of a hippy, so I decided to explain that I had pledged off plastic for 90 days, which included plastic bags.

“Well what’s your coat made of?” he retorted.

I was wearing my favorite Kenneth Coal wool jacket. (I got it as a present, before I knew what a jackass Kenneth Cole was; see here if you don’t know what I mean).

I stuttered a bit and then mumbled that things I bought before the start of the pledge didn’t count. If that were the case, I’d be running around in the same two or three shirts that are 100% cotton or wool (and don’t have any synthetic threads or tags). The fact is that most manufactured clothing has plastic somewhere in it.

That being said, it got me to thinking about some strategies for buying plastic free clothing if I were to buy clothing more than once or twice per year.

Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories

(Photo credit: epSos.de)

  • Choose cotton, wool, or hemp instead of synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, and orlon.
  • Buy second-hand: This is a good practice for reducing your environmental footprint, regardless of whether you’re reducing plastic or not.
  • Make your own clothes. (Unlikely for me, but if you know someone who sews, pay them or trade them services to help out).

Underwear is a bit more of a challenge, and one that probably won’t come up during my 3-month pledge. However, My Plastic Free Life has some great recommendations for eco-friendly, plastic-lite undies.

One bright note is that a lot of companies are now created synthetic fabrics using plastic bottles and other recycled plastic goods. And although that plastic is still bound for landfills and oceans once the clothes wear out and get discarded, it’s nice to see a few clothing manufacturers changing habits.

As for me, this just sealed my fate as a second-hand shopper.

In my attempts to shop for plastic-free products, I’ve noticed a trend among produce: I can either buy something that’s organic, or I can buy something that’s plastic free.

I first noticed the problem at Fred Meyer during the first week of my pledge off plastic. There, I found that both organic options for carrots had plastic. The carrots were either bagged in plastic, or they had plastic tags. The same was true of broccoli. The organic stuff had plastic tags, forcing me to buy the non-organic option. Even the organic bananas had plastic wrapping around the stems, whereas the non-organic option didn’t.

I thought maybe it was a fluke. Whole Foods would surely have more options. And for the most part, that was true. With a few exceptions, most of the produce had plastic free options, though a despairing amount still had plastic stickers. As an aside, this time of season, it’s nearly impossible to find fruit that doesn’t have those little plastic-y stickers indicating what type of fruit, and whether or not it’s organic. The stickers seem to have some kind of plastic coating to resist water (which actually raises a good question about whether something is really organic if it’s had adhesive on it). Anyway, produce trip to Whole Foods: Success!

Well, almost. I did encounter one more example of having to choose between plastic and organic. The only option so far I’ve found for out-of-season frozen berries is Stahlbush Island Farms, which makes a 100% biodegradable paper-like packaging for its non-GMO berries—note that these are non-GMO, but they’re not certified organic. Blast! I ended up buying them anyway, because I missed having smoothies, and at least this way, I could keep eating berries.

My girlfriend pointed out that some of the non-organic stuff—both frozen and fresh—might come in plastic bags in order to preserve freshness. Since the non-organic fruits and vegetables have preservatives to keep them fresh, it’s less necessary to rely on sealing them up. Between trying to eat organic and trying not to use plastic, I’m just glad I’m not vegan, because I don’t think there’d be much left to eat.

On Sunday, I took my first trip to the grocery store since pledging off plastic products, and it was rough. This pledge is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

Tough as it was to find food that lacked plastic packaging, it could have been worse. I eat very little processed food to begin with. More than one person has referred to my lunches as “rabbit food.” A typical day’s meals look like this:

Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Smoothie (banana, coconut milk, kefir probiotic, frozen berries, and protein powder)
  • Vitamins
  • Way too much coffee.

Snacks/Lunch:

  • Assorted Vegetables (typically a carrot, a cucumber, a green bell pepper, and boccoli)
  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Grapes or Pear
  • Homemade trail mix (dried blueberries, chocolate covered raisins, pumpkin seeds, oats, almonds, pecans, dried cranberries).

Dinner: 

  • Pasta with garlic, olive oil, and salt.
  • Glass of red wine.
  • Frozen berries.

And there you have it. I follow this ascetic food regiment probably eighty percent of the time. With so much produce in my diet, I didn’t think the plastic pledge would prove that challenging with regards to my eating habits.

Yeah, that was stupid of me.

This first foray to the grocery store was to Fred Meyer, a chain in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. I scoured the store for a solution for my breakfast smoothies. I figured if I supplemented milk (in cardboard containers) for my coconut milk (which had plastic lids), I might be able to work something out. I also looked at various sorbets, but all had plastic lids or else plastic wrapping connecting the lids and containers. Eventually, I gave up my hopes for maintaining my smoothie habit, when I realized that the grocery store lacked yogurt and berries in non-plastic containers. So what about breakfast?

Cereal? Nope, most of it comes in plastic bags inside the cardboard boxes.

Toast? Even the fresh baguettes had little plastic windows in the paper so you could “see the bread.” WTF? Do we really need all these little plastic windows so we can see our food? Don’t get me started on pasta boxes.

Waffles and pancakes? Sure, the mix comes in paper bags, but try finding syrup that doesn’t have a plastic lid. I’m sure there are options out there, but not at this waffle stand.

Eggs! At last, a solution. I’m a pescatarian, so I still eat eggs and fish.

So, I have ninety days of egg breakfasts to look forward to. Yay?

What I took away from my endeavors to craft a breakfast was this: It’s not impossible to eat without buying plastic products, but unless you are willing to (A) severely limit the variation in your meals or (B) visit lots of independent food stores (such as bakeries or farmers markets), you’re going to have a rough time of it.

Still, spirits are high, and food is the least of my worries. All I can say is good thing I like omelettes.