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Living plastic-free in February: Online group attempts the impossible


February is traditionally noteworthy for one thing: Valentine's Day. But the website may change that with its Plastic-Free Challenge, kicking off today and running throughout the month.

For each of the month's four weeks, a different blogger will attempt to live entirely plastic free and write about the experience. The three main rules of the challenge: No buying or acquiring new plastic; no cooking with plastic or storing food in plastic; and minimizing all other plastic use as much as possible.

"It seemed like at every editorial meeting we have, we look at these big environmental problems, like plastic in the ocean," said Leah Zerbe, online editor of Rodale, publisher of the healthful lifestyle magazine Prevention. "We always try to bring it down to how it's affecting you or your family’s health and what you can do about it. At least every week we’re talking about something plastic related."

Zerbe, 29, will be tackling Week 3 of the challenge. Topping her list of strategies will be eating more whole foods (so she doesn't purchase items in plastic wrapping) and buying bulk foods from co-ops that she will tote in cloth bags. Instead of bottled shampoo, she plans to use Dr. Bronner's bar soap.

"I’m going to have to look at being vegan if I’m going to stay true to this," Zerbe said. "It’ll be tough, and I don’t know if I can do it. It’s kind of eye-opening."

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Plastic bag costume representing an average American's annual plastic bag use. Credit: Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

Comments () | Archives (6)

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I like the activity Plastic-free challenge! It is very unique and very practical for it helps in reducing the usage of plastic or cellophanes. I go for this activity! I hope you'll be conducting it, from now on.

It's the hysteria like this: [ "It seemed like at every editorial meeting we have, we look at these big environmental problems, like plastic in the ocean," ] that gets these reporters off on missions to "save the planet" which is almost a religious fever. I'd prefer they join a fundamentalist religious cult (which in actuality their mantra is) and leave us alone except perhaps when on Saturday mornings, they show up at your door. I can deal with that.

Few are proposing to ban all plastics, but considering disposables can contaminate soil & water for 500 years for maybe 5 minutes of "convenience," that's a real weak argument. It's touching how the plastic industry and their apologists are suddenly so concerned for the poor and working class, and, of all thing, trees!

Another parlor game for the affluent and clueless amongst us. Plastic makes many a product cheaper and more convenient to use for poor and working class people. Greenies are indirectly making life much harder for those who live on a limited budget.

Guess you can't drive your car, know how much plastic it has? Why put pressure on the poor trees to produce more paper bags. Yeap, tote those veggies in that lead ladden bag you plan on using. If you really want to make it hurt, ban manufacturing of all plastics, then and then, will I believe anything you say. Hypocrite.

Great to see Leah interviewed here! Going plastic free isn't easy. As she explained, it really hits every element of your life and makes you question some of your purchasing and life decisions.

If you want some tips on making small plastic-free changes around your home, check out our article, Healthiest Home on the Block:

- Dana from


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