Greener Essays – Part 2 – Plastic

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
So here is Part Two of the Six Part series…

Plastic, June 2012
One scientist who has done extensive research on chemicals in plastic insists that “no plastic is safe”, none of it. NONE AT ALL. From the documentaries on plastic that we watched I learned that plastic comes from oil. It makes countless people who live near these plastic factories sick from the fumes, sad, but thru that part of the movie, I’m thinking “WHEW, dodged that bullet” – but actually, no. Every plastic item starts with that “plastic smell”, and when we smell it, we are literally breathing in chemicals through our mouth and nose. On top of that we typically heat up plastic – items in the microwave and dishwasher, plastic bottles in the trunk, tents in the sun – and all scientists agree that, when heated, the compounds in the plastic are released, to be absorbed into the air we breathe, absorbed into our skin by contact, and absorbed into the food we are cooking – Eeek!! Scary! Now wait a minute, chemical companies have been telling us for years that their chemical are safe, what exactly do these chemicals do to us? Well, the studies show that the plastic releases estrogen hormones, which send signals to the brain, that is why girls are starting puberty too soon, and it’s also shown to cause breast cancer and influence other cancer causing cells in the body. The chemical causing all this mayhem? BPA. I’d heard about BPA, but I’d heard that it was taken out of baby bottles, so, like yay right? Wrong again, the toxicity of plastic is inescapable. Not only is there still BPA in all the other plastics that are not baby bottles, but a study published in Environmental Health confirms that “hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics.” Geez, cuz that’s what I wanted to hear. Time to get plastic out of the house. I sewed up about 20 reusable shopping bags, and ten bulk food bags. We stopped using bottled water immediately, we used up what canned food we had, and refused to buy more with the plastic linings. We headed to goodwill where we got ceramic dishes and glass drinking glasses. Out went the plastic, all of it that was not tied down as it were, we piled it up to take a picture, and then what didn’t sell on craigslist we donated to the library’s thrift store. We relented, and kept a few things, like the vacuum and the fans. We felt a lot of relief getting all of that out of the house, we wanted to do more, but our attention turned to our disastrously unhealthy food…

Plastic Pollution, June 2012
As I hurried and scurried to get plastic out of my home, I also reflected on what plastic is doing to our bigger collective home. Without a functioning earth we will all die out as a species. Like rebellious teenagers we are putting too much pressure on our mother earth, and when we leave, our mother will sigh with relief, renew herself, and continue living without us. She loves her children, but cannot stop us from our self-destructive behavior. In the creation, consumption, and castoff of plastics around the globe we are polluting the only habitable planet that we have. Plastic I’ve learned is made from oil, a substance that is meant to last for thousands of years, and so it will. Think of a plastic fork – it is made of oil, and then we use it for several minutes, then we toss it in the trash. Don’t be tempted to wash the fork for re-use, that would release the chemicals that cause cancer – it is only meant to be a One Use Item. That oil fork, will last for years, that one fork will NEVER really be gone. It was not made from air that can be returned to air, it was not made from water that can return to water, it was not made from plants that can return to the soil to make more plants – it is oil that has been chemically changed into a hard substance. So where does the fork go? If we are lucky it goes to a landfill to be incinerated, the incinerated product is then buried in the earth where it leaks its terrible chemicals into the soil, even “recycled” plastic creates chemical waste that is also buried the same way, but what is worse is that most plastic ends up in the ocean. The ocean is big, the ocean can take it, right? Nope, every year, Americans throw away enough plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. That is just one year, and that is ONLY plastic silverware. Every year, Americans use approximately one billion shopping bags, and plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil, and stay in our oceans. This is what our example fork will be, a few small pieces of plastic particles, called plastic soup, being eaten by the ocean’s fish, birds, and mammals. Even whales eat the plastic! When the plastic in their bellies kills them, it will be returned to ocean where it can continue its deadly killing spree… …or even worse, it was eaten by a fish that ends up on our plate. As we eat our fish sticks, or fish fillet – we are eating our own plastic waste.

We need to all change our lifestyles, to consume less plastic, I love this: “Some plastic is just pointless. A straw? Would it kill you to let your lips touch the glass?”

The Scrapbook Pages:

Greener Essays – Part 1 – The Beginning

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
So here is Part One of the Six Part series…

The Beginning, June 2012
For years a few knowledgeable people tried desperately to spread the word about what is going on in our nation, they have been derisively called all sorts of names from Tree Huggers and Liberals, to Lunatics and Alarmists… …I’ve always been more concerned about nature than most people around me, and when we moved to Oregon I found out there are other people like me! I signed up for renewable energy with the electric company, put bumper stickers on my car, and called it good. Little did I know, that I was aware of less than a tenth of what was actually happening to pollute the earth!! It all started when I watched “Bag It”, a documentary on plastic bags. Looking back, I don’t know why I’d requested the movie from the library, it almost seems like fate now, because this movie has changed the course of our life. I began to watch it alone while embroidering, and then I realized that Jared needed to see this too, I gathered everyone in the front room, and re-started it from the beginning. Jared and I were shocked, Meg was visibly upset, and practically cried at the plight of the ocean animals, we’d all had no idea what plastic was doing to our ecosystem all over the world! We were severely shaken and upset, and it prompted more research, book after book, movie after movie, we soaked in what we should already have known, what everyone should know if they were not so preoccupied, the bubble we’d been living in burst, and we stepped out with clear eyes to see the world around us. Now we saw the trash washed up in the seaweed, now we saw the animal feedlots, now we saw everything – we’d seen it before with our eyes, but not with our mind. Our poor minds – reeling with all this new found knowledge that we could not go back to ignoring. Not that we wanted to ignore it, but what to do? We didn’t have an army of reusable bags to take to the store, we still needed to eat food, plastic pervaded our house like a disease, and like all Americans we’d been so carelessly comfortable living a consumer’s lifestyle, and we didn’t know how to change. So, we did yet MORE research, now not on the problems of the world, but what others were doing to fix them, starting in the home. We listed all the things we needed to change in our home and life, ordered them by importance, and each month tackled a new project. And of course, we started with plastic.

Bag It 2010
Plastic Planet 2009
Plastic-free : how I kicked the plastic habit
-by Beth Terry
Tapped (Director Stephanie Soechtig) 2009
Blue Gold: World Water Wars 2009
Flow: For Love of Water 2008
Oil vs Sustainable:
Who Killed the Electric Car? 2006
Revenge of the Electric Car 2011
Sustainable Living and Food:
Hungry For Change 2012
Forks over Knives 2011
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2010
What Are the Bees Telling Us? 2010
Dirt! The Movie 2009
Food Fight 2009
Food, Inc. 2008
Food Matters 2008
Fresh (Director Ana Sofia Joanes) 2009
No Impact Man: The Documentary 2009
Fed Up! (Director Angelo Sacerdote) 2002
50 secrets of the world’s longest living people
-by Sally Beare
How organic farming can heal our planet
-by Maria Rodale
Made from scratch
-by Jenna Woginrich
Making it : radical home Ec for a post-consumer world
-by Kelly Coyne
How to sew a button : and other nifty things your grandmother knew
-by Erin Bried
Animal, vegetable, miracle : a year of food life
-by Barbara Kingsolver
Greenhorns : the next generation of American farmers
-by DeDe Lahman

The Scrapbook Pages:

DIY Shampoo? Why not!

When I started researching homemade shampoo I was too nervous to try it out, there are ALL KINDS of recipes and conflicting information. I’d just bulked up on shampoo that would last me for about five months, (since my hair is short and I only wash it twice a week), so I didn’t have incentive to work on the shampoo problem when so many other things had my attention. Now my shampoo stash is dwindled, and it’s time to buy more… or find a Do It Yourself Shampoo solution! And keeping in mind that chemicals are expensive, cleanser is not, I’m determined to find a natural cleanser that works for my hair.

I have thick oily hair that sometime has dandruff if I use regular cheap shampoo, so for years I’ve been using a heavily chemical dandruff shampoo. Over the months that I’ve researched alternates to shampoo, enthusiastic yet too afraid to actually attempt anything, I’ve come across these various ideas in books and blogs:

♥ Baking Soda & Apple Cider Vinegar
♥ Honey and Apple cider mixture
♥ Corn Starch and Baking Soda
♥ Corn Starch and Oatmeal
♥ Corn Starch and Cocoa Powder
♥ Castile Soap
♥ Herbs and Castile Soap Flakes
♥ Dried Herbs and Essential Oils
♥ Tea Bags and Castile Soap
♥ Soap Nuts
♥ Sugar and Honey
♥ Egg Yolk and Honey
♥ Rain Water
♥ Borax (NOT Boric Acid)
♥ Fresh lemons
♥ “Lemon and Cucumber Shampoothie”
♥ Using Water Only, with a boar bristle brush:

I hope having all that info in one list of links helps you in your search for keeping chemicals out of your hair and body. For myself, after reading all that information, and all the comments beneath the posts, I was a little dizzy, however, thru Ockham’s Razor, the simplest answer is the one to try first and is often correct, so I’ve decided to try Water Only. If that doesn’t work, I may try using Castile Soap, or perhaps the Baking Soda method. I realize that I’ll have to go through a tough stage between shampoo to no shampoo, so I’ll do an update post about DIY Shampoo in a month or so! Wish me luck!

07/08/2013 UPDATE! See the updated Post here: DIY Shampoo – Update!