Monday, November 14, 2011

Today's "Plastic-Free Monday" Post from Green America

Written by Editor-in-Chief, Tracy Fernandez Rysavy:

"As I’ve worked to get the unnecessary plastic out of my life, I’ve run into three major challenges. [Here are two of her aformentioned three]:

I’ve discovered that by far, my worst challenge is packaging, especially food packaging. I am lucky enough to have a family-owned grocery store nearby that doesn’t wrap its produce in plastic (Trader Joe’s, I’m staring at you). But here’s my problem: I hate cooking. Hate, loathe, despise it with the white-hot, fiery passion of a thousand suns. I envy all of you who love it—I wish I did. But there are so many other things I’d rather be doing—playing with my kids, reading, tackling one of my many unfinished art projects, or, chief among my options, eating something that someone ELSE has cooked for me. Unfortunately, my partner hates cooking just as much as I do, so the two of us have a habit of aimlessly opening and closing cupboards around dinnertime as if hoping we’ll magically conjure up an organic, home-cooked, four-course meal by sheer force of will. That has yet to happen.

You can probably guess where this is going. Organic dinners-in-a-bag have long been a standby for those nights when I’m too tired and grumpy to cook, and I’m all over Ethnic Gourmet and Amy’s Organic microwave lunches. But now I’ve seen the plastic-free light. Those microwave meals have had to go.

SOLUTION: So now, I’m forcing myself (and my husband) to cook more often. I’ve dusted off my slow cooker and my collection of cookbooks with phrases like “quick meals for busy people” in the title. And even though I have a black thumb, I’m still inching my way toward having my own garden. I now have some herbs in containers, and next year, I’m going to try a raised bed of something (preferably something I can’t kill). I’m still waiting for the “joy of cooking” to hit me, but it hasn’t yet. However, the joy of eating fresher, tastier food is starting to make up for it.

Tupperware: A new study, discussed at length in the “Take the Plastic Challenge” Green American, found that all types and shapes of plastic—even those with recycling code numbers 1,2,4, and 5, which were previously thought safe—leach hormone disrupting chemicals when heated. So I’m minimizing my Tupperware collection, since my main use for them has been dumping hot leftovers into them.

SOLUTION: I’m sending some of the flimsier #5 “disposable” food storage containers I’ve been saving and reusing to Preserve’s Gimme 5 program, which recycles #5 plastic and turns it into Preserve personal care and kitchen items. (Preserve tests the plastic in its products to ensure that it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.) I already have some glass containers I’ve started using for leftovers, but they are fairly large. I’m making an investment in some smaller stainless steel and glass containers, and using the remaining Tupperware-style containers for cold items, only."