Celebrate a Plastic-Free Earth Day: Watch “Bag It” with Green America and Beth Terry

The Green America editors proclaimed our love for the documentary film Bag It in the recent “Take the Plastic Challenge” issue of the Green American magazine, and now, those of you who haven’t seen it yet can find out what all of our fuss was about. In fact, we’ll be watching it with you—along with other Green Americans from across the country!

On Earth Day, April 22nd, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Green America and Constellation TV, an online “movie theater” platform, will host a Web screening of the film Bag It. This important, moving, and often funny film follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world. What starts as a film about plastic bags evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic and its effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our own bodies. We see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up to us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now.

Watch the film from the comfort of your home on your computer, and then ask your questions about plastic pollution and living without plastic via a live Q&A with Green America editor-in-chief Tracy Fernandez Rysavy and “My Plastic-Free Life” blogger Beth Terry, author of the forthcoming Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can, Too (June 2012).

Tickets are $3.99 at www.constellation.tv/bagit  A portion of the ticket sales will go toward funding Green America’s green living programs.

And yes, it’s perfectly okay for you to buy one ticket and invite a bunch of friends to watch with you. In fact, we encourage it—the more, the merrier.

About Constellation

Constellation is a new online movie theater! Just like a traditional theater, audiences purchase tickets to attend scheduled show times of films.  Unlike other online platforms, watching movies on Constellation is a social experience. Movies are presented by VIP hosts, such as the films’ directors, actors, or subject experts, who appear live in the online theater to answer questions from the audience during and after the film. Sign up for a free account at www.constellation.tv.

20 Plastic Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle

1) Bottle and jar caps: Weisenbach Recycled Products accepts clean plastic bottlecaps, plastic jar caps, flip-top caps from personal care products, and flexible snap-on lids (e.g. butter tub lids) to turn into funnels and other items. CapsCando.com.

2) Brita pitcher filters: Preserve’s Gimme 5 program accepts Brita-brand pitcher filters for recycling. See #11 below.

3) Compostable bioplastics: Find a municipal composter at FindaComposter.com.

4) Computers and other electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers near you at e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler. Your local Best Buy store will also accept many types of electronics, large and small—from televisions and gaming systems to fans and alarm clocks. Best Buy partners with responsible recyclers that do not ship items overseas, including Green Business Network™ member Electronic Recyclers International. You can bring three small items per day to Best Buy for free. The company charges a fee to recycle large electronics. BestBuy.com/recycling.

Continue reading “20 Plastic Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle”

Plastic Monday: The Final Post

Soap nuts!

November is over, which means Plastic Mondays have come to an end. That doesn’t mean that the Plastic Challenge is over. I plan to continue the good habits I’ve learned or reinforced during this challenge, and I’ll continue to work on getting more Stupid Plastic out of my life.  (We’ll continue to blog about plastics from time to time, too—just not every Monday.)

If you took the Plastic Challenge with us, I’d love to hear about the changes you’ve made in your life. Here’s an abbreviated run-down of what I accomplished during the last few weeks:

  • I continue to NEVER buy bottled water or accept single-use plastic bags at the store. Since I am prone to forgetting my reusable shopping bags (I unload them in the house and then sometimes forget to put them back in my car), the Plastic Challenge provided the nudge I needed to come up with a good solution: I now keep a shallow cardboard box in my car, like the ones they give you at BJ’s or Costco warehouse stores. Now, if I forget my bags—other than the collapsible ChicoBag and two lightweight produce bags that live in my purse—I just put the box into a shopping cart and toss my purchases into it. I’ve gotten a few weird looks, but that’s never stopped me from doing anything before!

Plastic Monday: Plastic-Free Toothpaste and Other Odds and Ends

I just have to say, I think my favorite part of this whole Take the Plastic Challenge has been interacting with all of you Green Americans in the comments section. Thanks for making my attempt at changing my plastic-centered habits a fun learning experience!

Common wisdom (and apparently some scientific study floating around somewhere) says that it takes 21 days to change a habit. It’s been more than that since we started our challenge to get the Stupid Plastic out of our lives, and I’m happy to say I’m making progress.

Here are some new tips and resources I’ve learned about since the “Take the Plastic Challenge” Green American started hitting mailboxes:

Continue reading “Plastic Monday: Plastic-Free Toothpaste and Other Odds and Ends”

Plastic Sundays: Watch “Bag It” Online

Those of you who’ve read through our “Take the Plastic Challenge” Green American have undoubtedly seen several references to the documentary film Bag It inside. In fact, it was this film that coined the term “stupid plastic,” which we’ve adopted freely here at Green America to describe the type of single-use, unnecessary plastic that we’d like to see wiped off the planet.

The film takes an in-depth look at plastic bags and other types of stupid plastic in use today–from production to distribution to disposal (which usually means “dumped in the ocean”). You’d think that would make it one of the most depressing documentaries in existence, and yet, somehow, the film manages to be empowering and even entertaining, while treating its subject matter with the seriousness it deserves. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn something, and you’ll come away wanting to do more to get the stupid plastic out of our lives.

For the next four Sundays, you can watch Bag It online for only $4.99 at Constellation TV, a new online movie theater that allows you to interact with the entire audience via your computer.

  • Watch this Sunday, Nov. 27th, at 8:30 p.m. Afterwards, world-reknowned musician Jack Johnson and his wife Kim will host a live Q&A. Proceeds from this screening will benefit the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation, cofounded by the Johnsons, which supports environmental education in Hawai’i.
  • On Sunday, Dec. 4th, at 8:00 p.m., Surfrider Foundation founder and CEO Jim Moriarty will host a screening and live Q&A. Proceeds will support the Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect the world’s oceans.
  • On Sunday, Dec. 11th at 8:30 p.m., Rebecca Sutton of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) will host a screening and live Q&A. Proceeds will benefit EWG’s programs to protect public health and the environment.
  • On Sunday, Dec. 18th at 8:30 p.m., Anna Cummins and Marcus Erickson of 5 Gyres will host a screening and live Q&A. Proceeds will benefit 5 Gyres, which is dedicated to stopping the flow of plastics into the oceans.
About Constellation: Just like a traditional theater, audiences purchase tickets to attend scheduled show times of films on Constellation.  Unlike other online platforms, watching movies on Constellation is a social experience.  Users pick a show time to attend, invite friends, and watch movies together!  Movies are presented by VIP hosts, such as the films’ directors, actors, or subject experts, who appear live in the online theater to answer questions from the audience during and after the film.

To learn more about Constellation TV, visit Constellation.tv. To learn more about the Bag It screenings, visit Constellation.tv/bagit.

If you can’t make one of the Sunday online screenings, you can also purchase the film on DVD to share with your community group, school, or house of worship. Visit the Bag It website for ordering information and to download a free screening kit.

Plastic Monday: Ode to Reusable Water Bottles

The weekend of November 12 and 13, I traveled to San Francisco to work at our 10th annual Green Festival there.  On the way back to Washington, DC, I traveled through my hometown in Kentucky for a family visit, and I’m only just now arriving back home.  With the goal of an even more plastic-free life before me for the entire month of November, my ten days of traveling brought me into contact with a series of plastics choices I don’t face in my everyday life.

There’s the “stupid plastics” being pushed on the planes (those tiny plastic drink cups that hardly ever get recycled), plastic in my hotel rooms (plastic-wrapped plastic cups in the bathroom), and all the plastic involved in simply getting through airport security (the quart-sized plastic “liquids” bag filled with all kinds of small-sized plastic personal items).  Through it all, it’s my sturdy reusable metal water bottle that saved the most plastic from entering my life.

Carrying it empty through airport security is just fine, and in the San Francisco airport I even saw dedicated water-bottle-filling stations, apart from the water fountains and bathrooms.  I had way more refreshing water with me at my seat — at all times — than any of my traveling companions accpeting micro-sized drinks from the flight attendant, and I never had to purchase a bottled beverage during my ten days of travel.

The small plastic bag of personal products is another matter.  My too-large (but only half-finished) tube of toothpaste got confiscated, so not only did I waste toothpaste and plastic, but I also had to buy a travel-sized tube at my first destination (also packaged in plastic).  I look at my plastic contact lens case, bottle of contact solution, contact cleaner, dental-floss case, deoderant tube, travel toothbrush, and razor blades packaged in plastic, and realize I’ve got lots more steps to take.

I’ve learned about some toothpaste alternatives from commentors on this blog, and I bought a deoderant stone in San Francisco at the Green Festival.   So, hooray for next steps, and also I’m curious to hear others’ green-travel tips for going plastic-lite.  What next steps can I take to minimize the plastic I tote with me on the road?

Plastic Monday: Sarah and Tracy Talk Green Feminine Products

OK, ladies, let’s go there.

(Gentlemen, I’d tell you to look away, but this is important information for the women you care about, too.)

Over 12 billion single-use tampons make their way to landfills each year. One look at the feminine hygiene section of your local drugstore will tell you that most women’s tampon of choice in the US is individually packaged in plastic, with a plastic, single-use applicator.

Plastic + single use + easy-to-find, non-plastic alternative = Stupid Plastic.

Then there’s the fact that these items are also bleached with chlorine—the manufacture of which creates dioxin, a known carcinogen. WHY anyone would require a little piece of cotton and rayon that’s pretty much going to spend its entire lifespan “where the sun doesn’t shine” to be sparkly white instead of a natural-looking beige is beyond me, but just about every mainstream tampon company bleaches its products. And the same stupid plastic and bleaching concerns hold true for pads, as well.

I used to feel rather pleased with myself because I went to the trouble of using unbleached, plastic-free, organic cotton tampons and pads from an eco-friendly company. (Natracare, in my case.) I was well aware of the reusable feminine care alternatives on the market, but I have to confess, trying those out wasn’t a green step I was ready to take.

I’m a busy working mom who’s constantly on the go. In addition to my work at Green America, I volunteer to lead several of my daughters’ after-school activities and teach the occasional writing course. I simply didn’t believe I had time to deal with the mess and hassle of reusable pads and tampons. Plus, I’m embarrassed to admit I was a bit squeamish.

In the past several months, several things have happened to change my mind about trying reusable tampons and pads.

Continue reading “Plastic Monday: Sarah and Tracy Talk Green Feminine Products”