Go big or go home (Day 308)…


All right, it’s been a while since I’ve made a drastic change at Green as a Thistle, so here’s a big one for ya: I’m giving up plastic! Well, sort of — I won’t be giving it up entirely, but I’m not buying any new plastic until my challenge is over. This may seem totally impossible, but I figure, hey, if EnviroWoman can do it, so can the Thistle.

My prediction: This will be manageable for the next couple months, but it’s not something I’ll stick with in the long run. It’ll be easy in that I already have my own tote bags, bulk containers and other refillable bottles, plus I’m not planning on restocking my medicine cabinet anytime soon, and I’ve already given up things like tape, highlighters and glossy magazines.

However, I also realize that plastic is in EVERYTHING. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about my soy milk, which comes in a TetraPak, and I’ll definitely need to switch coffee brands because the ones I get now either have a resealable Ziploc-style closure or are lined with a plastic coating.

In terms of the rules and exceptions surrounding this, I’ll pretty much be sticking to whatever guidelines EnviroWoman has laid out (you can find them on her site). The one disclaimer I do want to make now, though, is that if I’m purchasing something and I’m given two choices and plastic somehow manages to represent the lesser evil, I’ll go with plastic.

I’m sure many problems and dilemmas will occur with regards to this, but I’ll just have to cross each bridge when I come to it and try to make the most ethical decision.

Image courtesy of this guy

20 Responses to Go big or go home (Day 308)…

  1. arduous says:

    No plastic! That’s huge!! I look forward to hearing more.

  2. Carreen says:

    Actually, I don’t think Envirowoman WAS able to do it… Sadly, she hasn’t posted in MONTHS… 😦

  3. linda says:

    I just checked my coffee and cocoa bags. I re-use them at Alternative Grounds, fair trade organic coffee roasters… and their bag is lined without any comments as to what with.
    The other bag, which came with ground roasted cocoa beans from Choco Sol, at the organic farmer’s market, sez it is “…lined with PLA, a 100% compostable corn-based film product…”… I do have problems with using a food crop for non-food purposes, but, it isn’t plastic…

  4. emily says:

    Vanessa, do you get your coffee in bulk, or already wrapped? I have an unusual situation, I guess, because I can walk 2.5 block to a local roaster, and they carry fair-trade, organic coffee beans. So, I bring my coffee tin and have them fill it up. (Okay, they fill it, then dump the contents onto a scale to get the container-free weight, and then fill it up again.) Can you do something like that with a reusable container, or can you not get “acceptable” coffee in bulk at a store?

  5. limesarah says:

    I’ve heard that making your own soy or rice milk isn’t hard, though for soy milk you do need an actual soy milk/tofu maker, I think. For rice milk, just make a pot of brown rice, puree it with extra water, add some sugar and vanilla or whatever, and strain. I bet it would be really, really tasty if you used jasmine or basmati rice instead, but I haven’t even been industrious enough to try it with brown rice. The remaining rice gunk can be put in bread or soup or things, or given to a friend with chickens if you have one.

    For the coffee, if you can’t get it in bulk, you might want to see if your store can order a GIANT BAG of it for you. So long as you can go through it before it goes stale, that’ll represent far less plastic than a bunch of little containers.

  6. Just a quick comment on what we’ve been going through with regards to plastics. We pay a yearly fee to a recycling company in our city, and within the last few months they announced that they will no longer accept glass. Which to me is pretty lame, because I’m wanting to purchase as little as possible. Now, our own recycling companies are forcing us to buy more plastic.

    I thought, that’s not too bad, our city still has a separate glass recycling program. Turns out, all the glass that was being collected in the bins were simply being dumped at the landfill.

    I can’t believe it…we have no secure glass recycling facility in town for glass items that don’t carry a deposit charge.

    I’m thinking we should add a deposit on everything…glass and plastic…that would instantly make it worth it.


  7. blah says:

    I love that you call yourself “The Thistle”. 🙂

  8. gettinggreen says:

    Haha — Yeah, my friend Meghan’s dad started referring to me as either “Thistle” or “The Thistle” (he even wrote that on a place card for me at dinner once) and it just stuck. Totally ridonkulous but kinda cute, too…

    Thanks for that rice milk recipe, limesarah — I’ve tried rice milk before and thought it was sickly sweet and too watery, but perhaps if I make it myself I can cut back on the sugar…

  9. SP says:

    Good for you Vanessa!. I HATE plastic.

  10. SP says:

    Oh and I have a almond milk recipe somewhere if you want it.

  11. kt says:

    Good luck with your plastic challenge (along with the rest of your changes), I really enjoy reading your blog. You might want to check out Beth’s blog http://www.fakeplasticfish.com/ which follows her interactions (which are as minimal as she can make them) with plastic.

  12. CH says:

    There is a great independent coffee shop in Toronto called I Deal Coffee. I’m not exactly sure where it’s located, but they have a sister store in Ottawa and its awesome. I’m not sure if all their coffees are fair-trade and organic, but they definitely have some and they’re tasty. All of there coffee comes in plain old brown paper bags. Hopefully the Toronto version is exactly the same.

  13. blah says:

    I don’t know how much you eat peanut butter, but its actually pretty easy to make the stuff yourself. You really only need a hand held mixer or a food processor to grind up the peanuts. After adding a little sugar (or your eco-friendly honey), you have yummy peanut butter that you didn’t have to buy out of a plastic jar. I’m sure you could also do the same thing with almonds or cashews.

  14. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Limesarah. I did buy a soy milk maker in order to avoid all the plastic from soy milk cartons and to reduce waste in general. Here’s what I wrote about it, in case others are considering:


    I don’t know what happened to EnviroWoman either. She was the inspiration for Fake Plastic Fish, but she hasn’t posted anything in a very long time. Thanks, kt, for mentioning my blog. I want to invite anyone who is trying to reduce their plastic waste to visit http://www.fakeplasticfish.com. My plastics reduction project is not quite as extreme as EnviroWoman’s was, and maybe that can make it less intimidating to people. Here’s a list of plastic-free changes I’ve made so far. It’s listed in order of the easiest to the hardest, I think. (You be the judge.)


    And Vanessa, even if you can’t continue the “no plastic at all” pledge forever, I’m sure you’ll learn ways to significantly cut down that won’t seem like a total drag.

    <a href=”

  15. Beth Terry says:

    Oops. I spoke too soon. EnviroWoman is back and blogging again!

  16. blah says:

    I just thought of something…what are you going to do when you run out of shampoo and conditioner? Do you buy those industrial sized shampoo bottles that last 4 months or is there some place that you can take your existing plastic bottles to and refill? I’m just curious, because if I were in your situation, I would have no idea on what to do if I chose to give up plastic too.

  17. […] no more plastic bags. In an individual show of earth-love, Green as a Thistle author Vanessa gave up plastic altogether. And, in a “bold move,” Whole Foods Market announced that its retail […]

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