My Adventurous Journey Towards Living Plastic Free
Guest Blogger: Liz Bachman is a Vermouth customer who began her plastic free journey five years ago.
Celebrating her 50th year, she has a career in tech, is the caretaker of 1906 craftsman home in the Pacific Northwest, does her best to keep up with three adorable dogs and practice yoga every day, and is steadily working to realize her retirement dream of moving to Baja on the Sea of Cortez.
In 2018 I was on a small boat headed towards an ecological preserve in Mexico for an afternoon snorkeling with friends. The captain stopped the boat to allow several humpback whales to pass.
Our guide reminded us that we should only use reef safe sunblock and began reviewing the other rules for visiting the preserve. It was then that another passenger casually tossed some plastic wrap overboard. This surprising action resulted in a lively (but unsatisfying) conversation about being stewards of our planet.
A little later, we were in the water following a large school of fish. I thought a jelly fish had floated into me (yikes!) - but it was a plastic grocery bag. I grabbed it then kept snorkeling, picking up more and more plastic as I went, completely filling up the bag by the time I got back to the boat. There and then, as I hauled my bulging plastic catch into the boat, I committed to going plastic free, #plasticfree2018.
What I did not know in that moment was that I had just committed myself to the beginning of a long journey. Plastic is insidious.
I started with my first recommendation for anyone wanting to live more sustainably or plastic free - toothpaste. Nothing about toothpaste is recyclable; the cap, the tube, the box, and the plastic wrap around the box all end up in landfills or worse, the ocean.
Bite Toothpaste Bits was founded by a world traveler, motivated by what she saw on her travels to reduce waste. She started the business out of her home, punching out toothpaste bits in her living room. My plastic-free toothpaste solution was quickly followed by bamboo toothbrushes and toilet paper. I found several cleaning products that checked all the sustainability boxes and were effective. I immediately incorporated these easy solutions into my life without extra cost or compromising on quality or efficacy.
While the internet and increased interest in sustainable living has made it easier to identify options, the next phase of my journey was more difficult. Maybe I was one of the pioneers? I found removing plastic from my life required research, difficult choices, and advocacy.
Companies might advertise their products as sustainable or eco-friendly... but then ship the item with a plastic bag inside a plastic bag with a plastic tie on a non-recyclable price tag. I started looking at everything differently. Item by item, I sought plastic-free replacements. Sometimes the choice becomes going without.
Other times, the plastic-free choice is a game changer. Part of the journey is being will to try a new product. I started using Hairstory because the product has a fully sustainable supply chain, with recyclable, plastic-free packaging.
Surprisingly, this cleansing conditioner has improved the quality of my thin, fine, curly, and white hair. The improvement is so noticeable my hairdresser started using it!
Critical items remained stubbornly out of reach, like greens in their ubiquitous plastic clamshells, and make up. When I first read about the Lettuce Grow, it seemed too expensive and big. I didn’t want to have to move furniture or rehome my fiddlehead fig to accommodate it, yet by 2022 my commitment to living plastic free compelled me to make the purchase.
I now grow lettuce, kale, swiss chard, herbs, violas, cherry tomatoes and more from seed, in my kitchen, year-round with 95% less water and no plastic clamshells.
Around the same time I found a sustainable lipstick, packaged like little crayons in compostable cardboard. I had found Vermouth Beauty. I appreciate that this is a women-owned business, but I love the way the product allows me to layer different colors to easily get the right match for me.
Five years into my plastic free journey I’m still surprised at the insidious nature of plastic. It is everywhere.
Even with my best efforts I end up with non-recyclable plastic each month, so I pay for Ridwell, a service that facilitates the recycling and repurposing of items that municipal services can’t take, items such as plastic film and batteries.
As I continue to strive to live plastic free, I’m now partnering conscious decision making with advocacy. As consumers, our voices matter. Here are some of the great plastic free alternatives I’ve found to help you navigate the choppy waters of a plastic free voyage.
Plastic Free Recommendations:
Toothpaste – Bite: https://bitetoothpastebits.com/
Bamboo Toothbrush: Amazon
Toilet paper - Who Gives a Crap: https://us.whogivesacrap.org/collections/all
Toilet paper - Cloud Paper: https://cloudpaper.co/
Bamboo makeup remover pads: Amazon
Food storage: https://www.stasherbag.com/
Recycling for items not recycled by city: https://www.ridwell.com/