My Month Without Plastic

Sunday, April 24th, 2016
A few weeks ago, I was in the offices of the Children's Environmental Health Center for a blood test for flame retardant chemicals. While there, we decided to do a test for other chemicals that are in plastics as well: Phthalates, BPA, BPS, BPF, and PVC. I decided to take this test and then avoid plastics as much as possible for a month and take the test again to see if there was a difference.

I tried this for one day in 2012, and remembered how much planning that took, so I knew this wouldn't be simple. I immediately realized just how hard it was going to be when I asked for a cup of water and the paper cup I was handed was lined with plastics that the doctors thought probably contained phthalates. I realized I would have to avoid to-go coffee cups as well, something I use on a daily basis. The next day when we flew home to San Francisco and the only water offered on the plane came out of a big plastic bottle, I realized I’d have to be much more prepared. With a bunch of travel coming up, I decided to put this plan on hold until I would be home for a straight month and be able to better control my environment. So I am starting it tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 25th, 2016
I woke up today and made breakfast like usual, an egg and avocado. That was easy. Though when I was finished with my avocado, I had to remember to pack up the part that was left over in a stainless steel container instead of an easier-to-grab Ziploc bag. I wanted to make coffee and realized the whole mechanism of our coffee maker is hot water pouring through a plastic holder. Luckily we have a French press which is all glass and has no plastic touching the coffee. Later in the morning when I was heading out to meet someone for another cup of coffee, I grabbed my glass travel mug with silicone top to bring with me to the coffee place. All the stainless steel mugs we had have plastic tops!

For lunch I tried to make a salad but realized I only had spinach in a plastic bag. I’ll have to get some loose at the store in a paper bag. Instead I had some peanut butter on matzah. I did happen to have peanut butter in a glass jar.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
Struck with a stomach bug, I basically did nothing but drink water, but I made sure it was from a glass bottle.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
Feeling better. I thought about asking someone to bring me soup, but realized there was no way to get take-out soup from a deli that didn’t come in plastic. Hot liquid in cheap plastic sounded like the worst combination so I just made some tea and ate a bagel with butter.

Thursday, April 28th, 2016
Had to run out the door to an event at school. Luckily our Marin County school serves coffee in regular coffee mugs instead of paper cups! Made lunch out of leftovers from the fridge that we had stored in a glass container.

Friday, April 29th, 2016
I rushed out to a meeting without any coffee and had to grab something in my car on the way. I had forgotten my glass mug so had to drink a coffee from a to-go cup with a plastic 
lid. Suddenly this seems so gross to me. My first big mistake this week, I’ll have to plan better.

I had dinner at a friend’s house and as it was a beautiful night we ate sitting out in the backyard. She gave everyone plastic cups, I assume the “outdoor” cups of the house. I felt bad but I had to go and ask for glass and explain what I was doing. I hate being a high maintenance guest but I had to keep up with it, especially after the misstep this morning.

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
I decided to buy milk in a glass container for my coffee, since I am really not sure about the lining of a typical milk carton, even an organic one.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
My biggest problem is how to store leftovers. I need to stock up on our silicone storage bags and some bigger glass containers.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
Going out for dinner tonight and I don’t know how to judge what I am eating out and what it has touched. I’ll probably just have to let it go.

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
We got one of those meal delivery services as a gift. The kind where they give you perfectly portioned ingredients and you cook your own gourmet meal with it. I was really excited to try it. And then I realized every single ingredient is packaged in its own little plastic bag or container. It is amazing to realize just how prevalent the plastics are, even in a gourmet service. I should have thought of this with a delivery service, but my eyes just weren’t focused on it before now.

Friday, May 6th, 2016
A disturbing realization: the ice making mechanism in my freezer is plastic! So now I can’t have ice. At least wine bottles are glass! Happy Friday!

Monday, May 9th, 2016
While making pancakes, I realized that my one metal spatula had just broken and the only one I had left that was good for pancake flipping was plastic. Another thing to add to the shopping list!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
I am getting much better at remembering to bring my glass coffee mug with me so I don’t get desperate and do a take-out one or have caffeine withdrawal.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016
We had a big team meeting for Sprout and decided to order sushi. Everything came in plastic of course. Maybe it’s better that it wasn’t a liquid at least so only a small piece of every sushi roll touched the plastic?

Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Trying to put honey in my tea and all we have is the little plastic bear! I’ll have to get a glass jar of honey at the store.

Friday, May 13th, 2016
It’s amazing how plastics around food are just starting to seem gross to me. I have been doing this for myself to test the effects and not for my kids but now putting any of their food in plastic, even what I would have considered safer plastics, seems disturbing to me. I have started throwing out the plastic sippy cups in our house as well.

Monday, May 16th, 2016
We spent a long weekend in Chicago, and it was extremely hard to keep away from plastics when traveling on an airplane & staying with friends. I basically had to let it go in order not to be the worst houseguest ever. I am supposed to take another test after this week so, now that I am home, I have to be as strict as possible over the next 4 days.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
I normally carry my bkr bottle everywhere for water. However, I needed to find a skinnier one that would fit in the water holder during my spin class. So I finally found one that was glass with a silicone sleeve and had a silicone mouthpiece instead of plastic. I was so excited to take it to class, only to look in and realize that the straw inside was plastic! I guess that is still better than the part I put my mouth on, but I was so frustrated not to have found a good solution for this one.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
I went to my local, organic grocery store to get produce and they no longer had the paper bags available to put produce in that they used to. Now they only have the compostable plastic bags, which I am not sure about. Maybe those are made from plants? I’ll have to do more research, but for the moment I want to avoid them. So I ask for a paper bag and they tell me I can only get them at checkout. I grab a handful of zucchinis and walk to the check out.

Then when they finally give me a paper bag to put them in, they drop my receipt in the bag on top of the produce, without asking me. Did you know that most thermal printed receipt paper has BPA in it? At Sprout, ours does not, but of course that costs us extra. Anyway, please don’t hand your children receipts to play with.

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
Today I went back to my local, organic grocery store to try to find something interesting to make myself for dinner. I had the zucchinis from yesterday so I was thinking of some type of curry or stir-fry with some added protein. I literally wondered around the store for 20 minutes so discouraged about my options. It is impossible to find noodles or rice that don’t come in plastic, so I decided to make my zucchini into noodles and do a zucchini Pad Thai. I luckily found a pad thai sauce in a glass jar. It had a lot of sugar as all premade sauces do, but for today’s challenge I’ll ignore that fact. Then I went to the meat and seafood counter. I was planning to buy organic chicken but every single one was wrapped in or covered in plastic. I know there are food safety issues that I don’t want to argue with, I just wish there were other options. I found some wild shrimp from the USA that wasn’t covered in plastic and bought those.

In the end, I was really proud of the plastic-free dinner I created. Zucchini Pad Thai with wild shrimp, a couple of eggs, chopped garlic, chili sauce from Thailand (that I already owned in a glass jar), spices from glass containers, and sugar-free peanut butter from a glass jar. (I unfortunately couldn’t use the crushed peanuts in a plastic bag sitting in my cabinet.)

Friday, May 20th, 2016
For this last day before the test, I am going to be as extreme as possible and drink only juice from the juice bar down the street that serves it glass containers. I already bought a pack of stainless steel straws that we just got at Sprout since I prefer to drink it from a straw and don’t want to use the plastic ones. It will be a tough day, but want to keep as pure as possible before I take the next test.

Stay tuned for test results!