No Plastic Holiday Challenge check-in

Christmas is just four days away now and I’m wondering how are you all doing with the No Plastic Holiday Challenge?

I’ve been doing pretty good myself. I haven’t been able to avoid plastic completely (and I didn’t expect to), but this challenge has made me much more aware of just how much plastic is out there. I almost hyperventilated walking through Target’s toy department the other day! Seriously! Ugh.

I managed to score some handmade wooden toys for the kids at a local craft show that I’m very pleased with. I also made them felt pizzas and they are getting lots of books, in addition to a wooden play kitchen from Costco, and a few things I picked up at the thrift store. I’m also dyeing some play silks that I will use to wrap their presents and they will, of course, double as toys. Play silks are awesome for imaginative play.

I can’t discuss anybody else’s presents here since they all can read, but (gulp) some plastic is involved.

So how about you? What worked? What didn’t? Do you have any plastic-avoiding tips to share?

The No Plastic Holiday Challenge

Plastic is all around us. From our kids’ toys to their sippy cups, from grocery bags to Tupperware bowls, from furniture to toothbrushes. That’s not even including all of the plastic involved in packaging – from food to appliances to toys to clothing. Plastic is everywhere and while it’s not good for our health, it may be even worse for our environment, so this holiday season I am challenging all of you to become more aware of your plastic consumption and make conscious choices to avoid plastic whenever possible.

Consider this information from Plastic Bag

  • Plastic production uses 8% of all the world’s oil production.
  • At the current rate the world produces 200 million tons of plastic a year. Less than 3.5% is recycled. In other words, 96% of all the world’s plastic is not recycled.
  • The world plastic production is increasing at 3.5% per year. This means every 20 years the amount of plastic we produce doubles.
  • The world produces over 200 million tons of plastic annually. Around half of this is used for disposable items of packaging that are discarded within a year. This debris is accumulating in landfill and the problem is growing.
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, they photo degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food web when ingested by animals.
  • The dawn of the plastic era was in 1950s. This was when we first started to use plastic for consumer goods on a mass scale.
  • Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years.
  • In short, since the 1950’s almost every piece of plastic that we have ever made, used and thrown away is still here on this planet in one form or another, whether its in our homes, in landfill or in the environment; and it will be here for centuries to come.
  • Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world’s species of sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including 95% of all the world’s sea birds) have eaten plastic litter.

Additionally, Plastic Bag reports,

People often ask, “What is the most concerning form of plastic marine debris? Is it discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), is it plastic bags, is it six-pack rings?”
The truth is it’s everything plastic in the ocean. All plastic breaks down into particles. It does not dissolve; it just breaks into tiny pieces and stays there. At this size it is small enough to be ingested by every single organism in the world’s oceans – animals as small as krill and salps (plankton feeders) right up to the great Blue Whale. These particles known as oceanic microplastics are now so prolific in the oceans that they outweigh plankton. In some large areas it is at a ratio of 30 to 1 (so 30 times more plastic than plankton) and the problem is growing fast.

Disturbing? Yes. Frightening? Sure. Hopeless? No. While we may not be able to do anything about the plastic that is already in the environment, the choices we make today will affect our future as well as our children’s and our grandchildren’s. This needs to be a collective effort. Remember, we vote with our dollars. The more we buy plastic products, the more plastic will be manufactured. Conversely, the more we buy sustainable products, the more sustainable products will be made.

The Challenge
I challenge all of you to do something about the growing plastic problem. When shopping for gifts this holiday season, try to find alternatives to plastic items AND look for items that don’t come with excessive plastic packaging.

Of course I’m not going to tell you, “Plastic is everywhere” and then say “Don’t buy it!” without giving you some suggestions on how you can avoid it, because I try to be helpful like that. Here are several suggestions to help you with this challenge.

Homemade Gifts
Kalyn Denny wrote 10 Great Homemade Food Gifts, and No Cooking Required for Some! with a wide variety from cookies and biscotti to meals in a jar and pet treats.

Over at Lighter Footstep there Ten Elegant, Inexpensive Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas including homemade bath salts, holiday wreaths, reusable fabric shopping bags and home-canned fruits.

Kit Bennett has tips for Making Gifts on a Budget over at Amazing Moms.

If you don’t want to make the gifts yourself but like the idea of purchasing something homemade, check out Pledge Handmade where people can “Pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me.”

Of course, one great place to find homemade items is Etsy. I can’t say that you won’t find anything crafted out of plastic there, because that’s just not true, but many things containing plastic have been upcycled. According to Wikipedia, “‘Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value.’ This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.”

Buy From Women
Over at Tip Junkie, is the 2008 Holiday Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon, where “the challenge is to buy your gifts from women & fellow bloggers.” “With so many struggling with the economy, we have the combined power and influence to make a difference in these women’s lives and give their families a wonderful holiday. All while enjoying their fabulous products in our own homes and those of our loved ones.” There are over 200 women-owned stores listed here in a wide variety of categories.

Also, over at Thoughtfully Simple is the Pledge to Buy Mom-Made challenge, where mompreneurs can leave a link along with a coupon code if they like to their store in the comments.

Eco-Friendly Gifts
Over at Green and Clean Mom, Sommer reviews the book Green Christmas which “gives some great suggestions on involving my family in the green Christmas movement. Suggesting ideas on cutting energy, reducing the waste of wrapping paper, recycling gifts and reducing the number of gifts given and received.” She’s also giving a copy of the book away.

At Modern Eco Homes, Kristen Banker wrote Top Eco-Friendly Charities and Fair Trade Gift Sites.

Give to humankind, and the betterment of life on earth, or to someone else’s life, which will make a mark on your own heart and soul. Giving charitable donations creates a feeling unlike any other. Buying from websites that give back to indigenous communities, creates a global unity. Just knowing that you are doing a small part to better this earth we inhabit makes all the difference in the world.

At Peekaboo, Caryn Bailey highlights some fabulously green gift ideas for moms and tots.

Reduce Plastic Packaging
Beth from Fake Plastic Fish wrote a great post with ideas on how to cut back on plastic packing materials too. Some of her suggestions include: “When ordering online, request zero plastic and Styrofoam packaging specifically” and “Find ways to wrap gifts without paper or tape.”

What do you think? Avoiding plastic doesn’t sound quite so hard now, does it? Are you game to give the challenge a try? Leave a comment below if you will take the No Plastic Holiday Challenge and I’ll add your name (and blog URL if you have one) to a list in my sidebar of challenge participants. Feel free to grab the button above to put on your blog (or email me if you need the code). I don’t expect perfection on this challenge, but I’m going to give it my best shot and I hope you will too. Don’t forget to take your reusable bags shopping with you!

Related blogs and posts:

Cross-posted at BlogHer

Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #2

We are now nearly a month into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were just over 100 people signed up! That’s wonderful news! Thank you all for giving the challenge a go.

How are you doing with it?

As for me and my switch to the MoonCup and cloth pads (for backup), I don’t have anything new to report. It went well for me earlier in the month, but I haven’t had to use them again yet. As for my switch from tissues to handkerchiefs, I can’t say I’ve been doing quite as well. I received the cloth handkerchiefs that my mom made for me and while I’ve been using them some of the time, I still find myself preferring to use tissues or, now that I’ve run out of tissues, toilet paper for blowing my nose. My allergies seem to be particularly bad lately so I’m blowing my nose A LOT.

Hope you all are faring well. There’s only one more month let in the challenge (although if you want to make the switch a permanent one, I certainly won’t argue with you). Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this, who has blogged about the challenge and helped spread the word and inspired others to give it a try as well. :)

Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1

We are now two weeks into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were over 80 people signed up! Woohoo! Not bad if I do say so myself. But that, of course, begs the question – how are you doing with it? Are you finding it harder or easier than you thought? If you are having trouble with it, what is tripping you up? If you are breezing through it, do you have any tips to share?

I never did reveal what I decided to ditch for the challenge, so here it is. I’m done with disposable menstrual products. I’ve been working on making the switch to the Moon Cup for the past few months, but had been dragging my feet. This month however, with the exception of two disposable pads used as back-up at the beginning of my period, I did it! You may recall that I was having some trouble getting the hang of it initially and it took me a few months to fully adjust (I’ll write another post about what finally helped me find my happy place with it), but I’m now a Moon Cup lover! In addition to the Moon Cup, I also am using cloth panty liners on my heavier flow days as back-up because I’m not 100% confident using the cup alone yet (and am unsure if I’ll ever be).

In addition to ditching disposable pads and tampons, I’m also going to try to kick the Kleenex habit. I tend to go through a lot of Kleenex, and although I compost some of it, it’s still generating a lot more waste than is necessary (not to mention all of the trees used to make the Kleenex in the first place). I’ve asked my mom – who is much more skilled on a sewing machine than I – if she would make me a bunch of smallish cloth hankies and she agreed (thanks, Mom!), so once I get those I am going to cut back significantly on the Kleenex.

I had considered getting rid of toilet paper, at least for a week or two, but haven’t convinced myself to give it a try yet. Glad to see some others are though! ;) My hat’s off to ya.

Anyway, I hope you will check in. Let me and everyone else know how you are doing. Don’t worry if you have regressed a bit or if you are still working on making the switch. I think just being aware that you are striving to make a change is important. Also, if you have questions about something particular, let me know. Maybe together we can come up with something that will work for you as we all try to reduce the amount of disposable products we consume.

We’ll have another check-in on Sept. 28. Keep up the good work and thanks for being a part of the challenge. :)

SKOY eco-friendly cloths instead of paper towels (giveaway)

In keeping with the spirit of the Ditch the Disposables Challenge, I have to tell you about one of my new favorite eco-friendly paper towel replacements – the SKOY cloth. SKOY cloths are reusable, very absorbent, bright and fun, machine washable and microwavable, and at the end of their life, biodegradable. They are non-toxic, chlorine-free and made using water-based colors and inks. According to, “Using one SKOY cloth is the equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average home.”

SKOY clothSKOY clothsI’ve been giving the SKOY cloths a try for the past several weeks and they really are great. I’ve mostly been using them in the kitchen or for cleaning up faces and grubby little hands, but they also work well in the bathroom both to clean the room and to clean body parts. :)

Another great feature of the SKOY cloth is that because it dries quickly, it’s not a breeding ground for bacteria. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up a sponge out of the kitchen sink only to have it leave my hand wreaking from God knows what. If you toss your wet SKOY in the microwave for a minute or two, you will keep it germ-free. It can also go safely through your dishwasher or your washer and dryer (or outside to dry on a clothesline – hint, hint).

After many, many uses (perhaps even up to a year or more), when your SKOY has finished it’s cleaning life cycle, it can be composted, though it will also break down in a landfill.

In addition to cloth towels or microfiber cloths, SKOY cloths are another great way to kick the paper towel habit once and for all.

Win It!
SKOY clothsThanks to SKOY, I’m giving away SIX 4-packs of SKOY cloths. All you need to do for a chance to win is first sign up (if you haven’t already) for my Ditch the Disposables Challenge. Then leave a comment on this post and make sure you include a valid email address or a blog URL so I have a way to contact you. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, Sept. 23. The six winners will be chosen using on Sept. 24 and notified via email. Good luck!

If anyone else makes or sells reusable products that are in line with the Ditch the Disposables Challenge and you’d like me to review them and do a giveaway, shoot me an email : crunchydomesticgoddess AT gmail DOT com. :)

Ditch the Disposables Challenge – Sept. thru Oct. 2008

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s time for another green challenge here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. I was thrilled with the participation in the 5-minute “Quickie” shower challenge over the summer and I hope we can do even better this time around!

For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables! We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. Like in the last challenge, I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. I’ll let ya know what I’m giving up in the comments soon.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Sigg or Camelbak bottles or the Kleen Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Sigg or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags

Or, for the really adventurous:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!

*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Edited to add: For help kicking the paper towels habit, check out my post on SKOY cloths (with a giveaway).