November 15, 2011


So this afternoon my great friend Jill brought me a couple of these really fantastic little storage cups. Yes, they are plastic, but here's the great part: they are made by Preserve, a Boston company of 11 people that makes kitchen products and other stuff (toothbrushes!) from 100% recycled plastics (as opposed to virgin materials).

The Preserve team is also the people behind Gimme 5, the entity that collects #5 plastic (polypropylene) for recycling (you can drop your #5s at the front door at whole foods), which is in part where they get the plastics they use to make their products. See how that all fits together? Using recycled plastic means using considerably less water, greenhouse gases, oil, coal, natural gas and electricity than manufacturing with virgin propylene. Which has to be better.

So, although I like to use glass and ceramic bowls when I cook and glass for food storage, and even though Steve and I carry lunches in glass containers, that strategy has proven less feasible with the girls' school lunches. These are exactly a lunch size, and the particularly celebrated thing about these little cups is their screw-on tops, which will not pop off ... like some other past efforts. AND they a cheery green, which will make even hummus-on-the-go look tasty. We will treat them well and get many miles out of these ... and in the end, return them to Gimme 5 for recycling. THANK YOU Jill!

September 13, 2011


So, please pardon the year-long gap: let's just say it was a pta thing.

It is GERNOT WAGNER who brings us back to life with this article in the New York Times last week, sounding the alarm bell for us all.

Wagner argues that even if we do Everything Right, and go as Green and plastic-free As Possible, we are collectively too far past the point where we can save ourselves through individual action: "the changes necessary are so large and profound that they are beyond the reach of individual action." Society has to recognize -- and pay -- for the true cost of the actions and conveniences in which we have so long indulged.

It doesn't mean we should give up on our individual contributions -- they can add up to alot, and they help keep the much huger issue in the front of our minds. But let's urge our lazy politicians to get on the stick, to be bold, to admit the emperor has no clothes, and to demand collective sacrifice.

August 31, 2010


California is voting tonight on a proposed bill to ban plastic bags. C'mon California, make us love you even more!

May 12, 2010

The Lunch Conundrum

Sadly, it takes this much plastic to bring lunch for 6 to our office.  The "free side salad" comes in styrofoam.  Nice, because everything tastes better encased in styrofoam.  All over New York, people are doing this deal for their lunch.  And throwing it all in the garbage.  All that plastic, just to bring you ten minutes of slurping some wan-tasting soba soup.  We can't live like this!!

May 8, 2010

Plastic Monkey On Our Backs

Finally, even our slow-churning government is coming around to recognizing what the Anti-Plastics have worried about for years:  that we can't afford to let so many plastics into so many areas of our lives, when the effects of the chemicals that they contain are competely unknown.  

This new study from the President's Cancer Panel makes alarming revelations about the dangers lurking in the plastics that are found in all our homes.   

It focuses on bisphenol-A ("BPA"), the toxic stuff found in polycarbonate plastic (labeled #7), that is used as lining material for canned food and infant formula, used in making some plastic wraps (apparently) and in molding plastics as a hardener.  You've probably heard of it in connection with hard plastic water bottles -- when they get scratched or cracked, they are likely leaching toxic BPA into your drinking water.  Exposure is particularly dangerous to infants and fetuses, fostering brain, behavioral and reproductive problems.  Not good for adults either, based on the terrible things it does to mice.

Although the evidence that BPA is toxic started to mount years ago, the Bush administration went out of its way to declare it safe -- relying on self-serving "industry reports," generated by the very companies who make and sell BPA.

The new report from the Obama administration, though, is heartening in its understanding:  it recognizes the absurdity of the old regulatory approach:  instead of requiring the chemical industry to prove the safety of the substances they use in manufacturing consumer, it has put the burden on the public of proving that a given environmental exposure is harmful.

How frightening is the statement that of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States, only a few hundred have been tested for safety?!  What are we thinking??!!

April 8, 2010

Way More Packaged Than Fresh

Not suprising, I guess, but disturbing: last week a New York Times article noted that Americans eat 31 % more packaged food than fresh food. Shockingly too [not], we consume more packaged food per person than people just about anywhere else.

This means two big problems: First, of course, all that packaged food means a crazy amount of packaging. Outside, probably a box. Maybe even a layer of shrink-wrappingoutside the box. Inside, a plastic container, most likely itself wrapped inside another plastic bag. And the whole thing probably ready to be microwaved. Mmmmmmmm, leached plastic.

A second concern, of course, is that the contents of that packaged "food" itself tends to be more plastic than organic. Sure, you can buy Amy's Kitchen and Cascadian Farms, but odds are what we are really eating is more along the lines of the Totino's "pizza rolls" that we popped in the oven for lunch last week, which feature delicious ingredients like Calcium Chloride, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Modified Cornstarch and Methylcellulose.

If you get the pepperoni ones (we resisited), you get a bonus dose of Titanium Dioxide, included for "color."

Alarmingly, I saw this on the FAQ section of Pillsbury's website:

Q: I accidentally let my pizza snacks thaw. Can I still eat them?
A: We do not recommend using any product that has been thawed at room temperature. If the pizza snacks have thawed in a refrigerator, you should refreeze them immediately and cook within 24 hours. However, the quality of the pizza snacks may be affected.

Ok, putting aside the question of who is this fictional "Totino" baking -- nay, assembling, these pizza rolls, HOW CREEPY IS IT that Pillsbury warns you against eating their food if it has thawed? Also, notice that they don't even bother to call it "food" -- they tell you not to "use" their "product."

Forgo your pizza rolls, America! Eat Fresh!

November 10, 2009


I am afraid that soon, instead of icebergs, we will have garbagebergs.

The New York Times ran an article today about how the Pacific Ocean is simply filling up with all the plastic bits of things that you and I throw away. And it's not just that we are "papering" our oceans with tons of plastic, but the floating plastic happily absorbs wildly toxic chemicals:

"PCBs, DDT and other toxic chemicals cannot dissolve in water, but the plastic absorbs them like a sponge. Fish that feed on plankton ingest the tiny plastic particles."

So then the toxic plastic dissolves into a trillion sparkly little pieces that get eaten by fish, who get eaten by other fish, who get eaten by . . . us. Instead of including a picture of the spotted gray trigger fish that just avoided a certain fate as a result of all this floating plastic, the Times should have included a picture of the children whose traumatic legacy our convenience-based lifestyles are ensuring.