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All the ways I failed miserably trying to live plastic-free for a week

The Los Angeles Times

Near the end of a May trip to Portugal last year, my wife, Pam, picked up a paperback at a bookshop in Lisbon — “How to Give Up Plastic: Simple Steps to Living Consciously on Our Blue Planet.” The cover illustration was a cartoon sperm whale blasting a cloud of bottles and utensils from its blowhole.

“Some light plane reading?” I said.

I didn’t expect much of a laugh from that, nor did I expect the book to inspire a dramatic, if brief, lifestyle change.

I was wrong. The book, by Greenpeace U.K.'s head of oceans, Will McCallum, told an ecological horror story about seas choked with plastic straws and single-use grocery bags. It also offered the “simple steps” of how to eliminate plastic items from your office space, kitchen and bathroom. I’d never considered buying toothpaste without a plastic tube. Now it felt like a moral imperative.

Back home in Silver Lake, we experimented with going plastic-free for about six weeks. How hard could it be, right? This is central Los Angeles, where plastic straws rank with cigarette butts as a social taboo.

We ultimately failed. Plastic stuff slowly found its way back into our daily lives, even as we continued to go without meal kit services and plastic water bottles. After a long workday, commute and gym visit, the appeal of Thai delivery overwhelmed the guilt of basically becoming a “Captain Planet” villain.

But recently, I wanted to try again. I wanted to see if I could learn from past errors and do better. Here’s how that went.

Day 1

My first step was to take inventory of our kitchen.

Going plastic-free takes more than a set of metal straws and vacuum-insulated portable coffee mugs, but we had those on hand, and it was a start. I also had various airtight glass food containers, Mason jars and leftover plastic takeout boxes. I spent an hour organizing, because if I didn’t, I knew I’d fall back on zipper storage bags.

I stuffed a canvas tote with the urban plastic-free essentials: a 20-ounce Yeti tumbler, a straw, a dog bowl and a fork.



Read the full and original article at The Los Angeles Times

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