I heard of Rodale’s Plastic-Free Challenge on the blog My Plastic Free Life.

Like Zero Waste, Plastic-Free is an aspiration, not a reality. For example, I posted something on Facebook about the plastic-free challenge this morning while wearing my plastic retainers. Am I going to give up my retainers and let my teeth go crooked again after spending thousands of dollars on them? No.

Plastic-Free Challenge Rules

1. Don’t acquire more plastic (and that includes packaging).

2. Don’t cook food in plastic or store food in plastic. (The first one seems pretty easy, unless Teflon contains plastic—all you have to do is remember to take your food now stored in plastic and microwave it on a plate or in a china bowl. The second is a little more difficult, but you can store your food in Pyrex and cover it with foil. I have Pyrex microwave-safe storage dishes with plastic lids. I’m going to use those because they are cool!)

3. Minimize other plastic use. (So what, I’m not supposed to type on my laptop?)

You see the problem here. Plastic is so pervasive in our lives that the best we can do right now is pay attention to how much plastic we use and start to remove it from our lives.

Beth’s Tips for Minimizing Plastic in Your Life and in Your Food

1. Consider whether buying frozen vegetables in plastic bags (a few brands come in paper bags, but they may be lined with plastic) is better than buying canned veggies. The cans are lined with plastic, and that lining will leach chemicals into the veggies. It’s possible that plastic bags can leach chemicals into the frozen veggies, but it seems less likely to me.

2. Buy condiments in glass jars.

3. Buy cosmetics in glass jars. Yes, I know they’re hard to find, but there are a few. Also, try buy Aveda’s makeup brushes. For a while there, they were selling some with handles made of renewable materials. Aveda also used to sell metal eyeshadow and blush containers made from recycled metal.

4. If you need to buy something plastic (say, a spray bottle), ask if the store sells any made of recycled plastic. These goods are a lot more common than they used to be.

5. If the item you need comes in plastic, buy it in bulk (less packaging).

6. Buy items based on their packaging. For example, do those socks you want to buy hang from a plastic hanger or a cardboard hanger?

Leave A Comment

  1. Melanie Mulhall February 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm - Reply


    Yikes! This is difficult . . . and I’ve been avoiding some plastic uses for a long time. I’d love to see a post on why we should be avoiding plastic. It is petrolium based, so that’s one reason. Too much is not easily recylcable, so that’s another. But enlighten us, please.

    Melanie Mulhall

  2. Beth Partin February 9, 2011 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Melanie, thanks for commenting!

    With regard to plastic, I recycle it and avoid it for the same reason I eat organic food: to avoid pollution. Plastic leaches chemicals into food, especially when the food is heated in the plastic. Also, plastic ends up in the oceans, where turtles and seabirds eat it. Some end up dying of starvation with a stomach full of plastic.

    After doing this challenge for a week, I can say with certainty I’m not as committed as Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life. But I’m very happy to reduce my use of plastic as much as possible. I prefer glass and wood and metal to plastic, but what I would really like is for designers to come up with container materials made from renewable sources or waste products such as sawdust or wheat chaff or something similar.