Posts Tagged ‘Packaging and labeling’

Too Much Plastic!

I recently came across a blog called Plastic-Free Guide.  The author Beth Terry lists every possible way to reduce plastic usage in your life.  In fact, there are 95 clever suggestions!

Her top two ways to reduce plastic usage you are hopefully already doing – bringing reusable bags and totes to the store with you (and that includes all stores, not just grocery stores!) and drinking from reusable water bottles, preferably a stainless steel one.

Beth conveniently categorizes her other suggestions for easy reading, the most doable ones I have listed below.

  • Plastic-free Grocery Shopping

Shop from local farmers markets; buy from bulk bins when possible; eat whole fruit instead of buying sodas, fruit juices and other plastic- bottled beverages; buy fresh bread or bread wrapped in paper; buy milk in   returnable glass bottles; stop buying frozen convenience foods.

·      Plastic-Free Eating and Drinking on the Go

Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers; carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle; carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.

·      Plastic-Free Lunches at School or Work

Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers; store foods without freezing; avoid non-stick cookware; choose stainless steel ice-cube trays.

·      Learn to Make It From Scratch

Make your own soy or almond milk, condiments or snacks.

·      No More Plastic Trash Bags

Compost food waste.

·      Switch to Natural, Plastic-Free Household Cleaning Techniques

Clean with vinegar, baking soda and water; use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box; use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers; wash laundry with soapnuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.

·      Personal Care

Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap; give up shampoo in plastic bottles; use soap instead of canned shave cream; choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers; choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic.

·      Travel

Bring your own water bottle or travel mug— even on the plane; bring your own snacks; don’t forget your headphones.

·      Plastic-Free Pet Care

Avoid plastic bowls; choose pet toys/furniture made from natural materials instead of plastic.

·      Get it Fixed!

·      Buy it Used!

  • Say No to Plastic Packing Material

Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online. (I love this one!)

·      Reduce Plastic in the Office

Avoid disposable plastic pens.

·      Plastic-Free Entertainment/Electronics

Look for secondhand electronics, games, and toys first; take care of what you have already; avoid buying CDs and DVDs.

·      No New Plastic Clothing

Choose natural fibers; shop thrift stores.

  • Avoid the worst plastics: Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 other)

They  cause a host of environmental problems and can be toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Plastic is in practically everything! It’s impossible to eliminate it entirely from our lives, but Beth’s blog certainly makes us aware of our overuse and over dependence on it. Plastic has definitely made our lives more convenient, but at what cost?  I wonder given the harmful effects from the manufacture of and constant exposure to plastic; given that so much of it ends up in our oceans and landfills; and given that most of it is not biodegradable, why chemists aren’t coming up with more green plastic.  It’s time we demand it.

I encourage you to visit, read her tips, and take her plastic trash challenge.

For more green tips, visit 


Information compiled from


Silica Gel Packets

Here is an unlikely green tip – reusing those silica gel packets found in the packaging of some processed foods, particularly organic ones, vitamin bottles, shoes, and electronics used to absorb moisture.  What you say? Why not simply throw them away?  They certainly don’t take up much space in the landfill!  If you think about the number of silica packets in your packaging, however, multiplied by all the packaging used around the world, then it’s a different story.


Silicia is an important drying agent where excessive moisture could encourage the growth of mold and spoilage.  Excess moisture can also damage electronics or break down the chemicals in vitamins. Silica is usually non-toxic to humans, pets and the environment. Some forms of silica gel have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory settings however, specifically the blue ones that contain the chemical cobalt chloride, often added to indicate the presence of humidity.  The packet that the silica is often encased in is made from high-density plastic that won’t tear or break and even keeps the smallest particulates from entering the packet.  While that is a really good thing, it is not biodegradable.

English: Silica gel Nederlands: Silicagel

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So, what do you do with all those packets?  You use your imagination and reuse them to help preserve other things in your house.  For example, I tape one on the lid of my 50-pound tin of dog food to keep it fresh.  Other suggestions?  Put some in a box of old photos or important papers to keep them from molding.   Put some in your jewelry box or in with your flatware to help keep them from tarnishing so quickly.  Add them to your seed packets and seed jars you are storing for planting next year to keep them mold and moisture free.  And, you can use the packets over and over – simply “reactivate” them by placing them in a warm oven (176-200 degrees) for 15 minutes.


Reusing silica gel packets, now that’s a good eco-citizen!


Happy Labor Day, readers!  Make it an eco-safe holiday this year.  Click here for ideas….




Information compiled from Natural Health, September/October 2012, “Ask the Experts” by Mike Yukizky, public health education manager, North Texas Poison Center and