Follow Up on the "Plassic Free March" Post

Thanks for the comments on the plastic post -- appreciated all of your feedback, questions and suggestions. I figured your comments deserved some separate space:

@ Alyson re plastic sandwich bags:

I still use Wrap-n-Mats because, while partly plastic, I already have them. Since I bought them a few years ago, I haven't really used plastic baggies therefore I consider them a positive for me. I really like that: 1) they fit a wide range of breads, 2) they open flat so you can use them as a place mat, 3) easily cleanable because you're cleaning a flat surface and 4) you can size the same one for snacks, as well.

I actually just used them yesterday to make sandwiches for my boyfriend and me to eat on the Highline and they worked perfectly, even though I overload my sandwiches with condiments.

lunch 06-25-09

Yes, they're part fabric and part plastic so I don't know if I'd buy them now but they're so reusable and I've found them so handy, I think they work for me. That said, I've never tried the brand that @Kelly mentioned, lunchskins. (Thanks for introducing me to them, Kelly.)

@ Rad re non-plastic trash bags

It looks like NYC DoS regulations say: "Refuse must be put into leak-proof receptacles with tightly fitting lids or in securely tied heavy duty opaque (e.g., black/brown bag, etc.) plastic bags...§16-120(a) FINE: $100 - $300" So I guess that's a no as to whether DoS will take trash in a non-plastic bag, in theory. I've seen some BioBags (spendy!) out there and I don't know that they'd know the difference. I used them once and at that point they were flimsy and couldn't handle my cat litter so I gave up. They may have improved?

Would love the bread recipe (and it looks like Kelly would, too!).

@ Waves re consumer feedback on plastics - it's awesome that you contacted them about only offering plastic bags for bulk. I think consumer demand is how most of these changes get made. Our food co-op sells cotton produce bags the bulk aisle, hung right next to the plastic option.

Plastic Shopping Girl
@ commonwealth re glass containers - I don't have any glass lidded containers except casserole dishes I throw in the refrigerator. All my previously purchased glass containers have plastic air-tight lids, although I don't have any Glasslock stuff but not for lack of oogling. I ended up buying a dozen C&B 1c glass containers with plastic lids for leftovers, instead. (Cheaper option, standard size.)


My update:

This weekend was frustrating because I'm now hawk-eying the plastic and it is everywhere. F%#$!@ everywhere! We stopped at the food co-op on the way to the Independent Art Show to get a picnic lunch but anything pre-made was in plastic. We opted for home-made sandwiches and the bread and tofurkey was in plastic. (Paper-bagged baguettes were there but I wanted sliced bread for work-week sandwiches - I would have wasted a huge baguette.) The avocado and watercress were plastic-free. So, impromptu meals will be a problem with plastic. (Also an issue with Woorijip, too, then! I almost never plan to go there.)

To make matters worse, through some conversations with my boyfriend and using general logic, I can't figure out how the weight of glass and shipping affects some of these choices. The glass is more purely and easily recycled...but what about the gas from the bottle manufacturer to the distributing plant and the distributor to me? Same thing for canned legumes. It'd be better gas-wise if I got bulk...but will I ever have the time for bulk?

Tonight I went rummaging through my cupboards like a starving artist trying to use up any items I have (not wasting food is also important) and figure out what I need to replace so I can be sure to bring the proper containers with me when I leave the house, as my day will end with food shopping at the co-op.


  1. Wow, a plastic-free consumer life will definitely take some commitment, but good for you. I gave up plastic carrier bags a few years ago, and make sure I always have a cotton tote with me. For years I had to quickly say "I don't need a bag thanks!! I have my own!!" at the checkout, but it's started to change more recently. There are entire towns and villages in some parts of the UK with plastic bag bans.

  2. My Brit friend who has hippie parents was telling me about various towns that banned or passed a levy on plastic bags. Mostly in Europe. Here's the link:
    In London 2006, everyone treated me like a leper for brining my own fabric bags into Sainsbury (where every piece of produce is already wrapped in cellophane!)
    It's just so different when I'm in Germany, and you have to pay .50 euro for a really sturdy plastic bag, which most people don't buy. The reusable fabric bags are maybe a quarter more. Everyone carries them around, or just buys them if they forget. I bought a bunch when I was there because they're way cuter then the American ones.
    Here's my bread recipe (and if you bake it in a dutch oven, uncovered, or a larger loaf pan, it may work for sandwiches. I usually just free form bake it, slice it thin, and spread hummus and other bean-dips on it for a snack).
    2 1/2 c of WW flour
    1 1/4 c of white flour (I use King Arthur)
    1 1/2 c. of water (or water and soy milk)
    1/4- 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast (slightly more if using regular "active dry" yeast)
    > 1 Tbs of sweetener (I use sucanat)
    1 teaspoon of salt
    1 Tbs of wheat germ (optional)
    2 Tbs of flax seed (optional

    Mix everything together. Knead for about 4-5 minutes (or not, it's not entirely necessary). It should be wet, but come clean off the bowl. Let rise over night, covered with a wet cloth napkin, about 12 hours. Shape into a free form loaf (i like to roll into a baugette shape). Sprinkler flour on the dough. Let it rise about 30 more minutes while the oven preheats at 450. Bake about 30-45 minutes, until the crust is hard and it sounds hollow when tapped. I use a thermometer (it should register around 180-190).

  3. I hear you... Since I read your post I feel like everything, I mean, EVERYTHING is made of plastic.

    Rad's comment made me think of the way things are in Finland regarding plastic bags, and from the sounds of it, it is pretty much the same as it is in Germany. You actually have to pay for the very sturdy plastic bags at supermarkets, so a lot of people bring their own canvas bags or re-used plastic bags.

    The American plastic bag bonanza was one of the few things that really shocked me when I first moved here. It makes no sense whatsoever to produce these use-once-and-even-then-they-only-hold-four-items types of plastic bags. I can't get over how some check-out people in various stores actually get all pissy when I tell them I brought my own bags.

  4. Lady, you get cooler all the time.

  5. I *wish* we had to pay for plastic bags here. Reusable bags are common enough that people don't get pissy anymore that I bring my own, but so many people *don't* use reusable bags because they just don't have any reason not to (unless you count not strangling the Earth as a reason...). I do still get a few weird looks in non-grocery stores, though.

    I ordered the LunchSkins bags not too long ago (just waiting for them to arrive on my doorstep) so I don't actually have any experience with them yet. I picked those, though, because you can put them in the dishwasher.

    Ever since your post about plastics I have been hyper-aware about how much plastic I use and how hard it would be to cut out. I will say I'm happy to report that the day I read your post, I went to the grocery store (Kroger) after work and found reusable produce bags in the organic food section. So it seems they are making their way out of the co-ops and into the bigger supermarkets.

  6. Yes.....big stores here have started to go 'bag free', i took home some fabric, elastic and needles in a neat little bundle the other day - it is a fantastic concept. And some large chains charge 10 cents per bag- which makes you ask twice if you need it.

  7. I've really tried to only use my reusable bags while shopping and to get most all my produce at the local farmers market to further reduce the amount of plastic I use. I have the enviorsax shopping bags as well as mesh bags I use for produce. I also use exclusively glass food storage containers in my fridge. They have plastic snap tops but hey, at least the parts that touch my food are glass. I got them at Costco and were well worth the money.

    One thing I have yet to reduce is plastic sandwich baggies. I hadn't seen the reuseable mats like you show in your post, so I'm probably going to check them out now. Thanks!

    Brooklyn Bliss


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