RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Rodale.com's Plastic-Free February has officially ended, and with it, Rodale.com editors' stressing over whether to buy organic bananas in plastic, or how to do their hair for a TV appearance without resorting to products in plastic bottles. Now, along with the many bloggers and others who joined us for four plastic-free weeks, we can get back to our comfortable, normal, plastic-filled lives.
Just kidding. While trying to live plastic free was a struggle, it has produced what we hope are some lasting behavioral changes. Our month was eye-opening, and we discovered, each in our own way, how much plastic had crept into our lives and just how easy it is to accept the disposable approach to living that plastic has helped create. But we also came away with some solutions to the tougher plastic dilemmas we faced—including how to handle those popular plastic Ziploc baggies.
If you participated, you probably had struggles and revelations of your own. We invite you to share them in the comments field below, or on our Facebook page.
Here are our 5 favorite lessons learned, and how you can try to apply them in your own efforts to cut back on plastic use:
#1: Carry your own cutlery (and straws).
Ever since moving out of New York City a few years ago, the amount of takeout food that I eat—and the associated plastic forks, spoons, and knives—has fallen precipitously. That's a healthier way to eat, but when I do need to grab some takeout, plastic cutlery is usually the only option (unless I want to eat with my hands). To prevent this scenario during the plastic-free challenge, I dug out my big purse and tossed in a set of reusable cutlery, and I've been carrying it around with me ever since. Also, since I have a bit of an addiction to iced coffee in the summer, I'm taking a cue from No Straw Ernie and adding some stainless steel straws to my cutlery carrying case.
#2: Skip shampoo, and make a DIY hair rinse.
We were all appalled at the amount of plastic pervading our bathrooms, considering that every personal-care product, it seems, is packaged in the stuff. Online editor Leah Zerbe came up with one fix by swapping her shampoo in a plastic bottle for a bar of Dr. Bronner's castile soap. Then, "I challenged a creative hair stylist to come up with three styles without using any plastic-encased products," she says. The two of them came up with this recipe for a sea salt spray that not only eliminates the need to buy a plastic bottle of shampoo, but it also costs in total about 12 cents.
Sea Salt Styling Solution:
4 pinches sea salt
1½ cups water
Mix the sea salt in the water. On your dry or damp hair, apply solution to your roots first and then work throughout hair. Style with your fingers or use a blow dryer. For a wavy, beachy look, hold a curling iron vertically to make loose curls, and then separate the large curls with your fingertips.
"You can also use this sea salt solution to suck oil out of oily roots on days in between washings," Leah notes.