01 February 2011

Plastic Free February

Rodale Press, publisher of Organic Gardening, Bicycling, Prevention, and other magazines and books about health, is encouraging people to give up plastic for the month of February.

Their ground rules:
1. No buying or acquiring new plastic.
2: No cooking with plastic or storing food in plastic.
3: Minimize all other plastic use.
It's an interesting thought experiment, but I don't actually think I can do this.

So much of the food I buy is packaged in plastic. Yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise, bread, hot cereal -- even gluten-free flours, dry beans and rice. (Which, now that I think about it, is odd. If King Arthur can sell flour in paper bags, why not Bob? Must be a contamination issue.)

Most of my vegetables come in a cardboard box courtesy of Urban Organic. But frequently we pick up some extras -- most often, a bag (whoops, plastic) of onions or celery.

Also, my trash gets bagged up. In plastic. It's a requirement of the building I live in that the garbage go down the building's garbage chutes in bags, so I've reverted to bringing groceries and other purchases home in plastic bags so I can then use them for the trash. (At least each bag gets used twice; I could bring cloth bags to shop, but then I'd have to buy garbage bags.)

I have food storage containers made out of glass and metal, but most of the lids are plastic. I use mason jars (with metal lids) for some food storage, but it's often impractical, especially for bringing lunches to school and work.

I sort of assume that when the organizers of this said "no cooking with plastic" they meant not microwaving stuff in plastic containers. No microwave in my house, so no problem there, but I do own a mesh strainer with ... plastic handles ... and another strainer made entirely of plastic ... and a salad spinner made ... well, you get the idea.

And what about the handles of stainless-steel pots and pans? Crock pot ... rubber feet and plastic cord. Rice cooker: plastic all over the outside. Coffee pot: stainless body, plastic base, handle, and lid. Even the knives have plastic handles. (
Cast iron, at least, is completely free of plastic. Though I vaguely recall that when I bought one of the cast iron pans, there was a plastic coating I had to scrub off before use.)

Whaddya think? Am I just making up excuses, when I should be in my kitchen tossing out all the plastic containers and lobbying my building to provide an open bin for unbagged garbage?