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10 tips for living with less plastic

by Katherine Martinko

Life Without Plastic promo image

© Life Without Plastic (via Facebook)

It’s impossible to avoid plastic entirely, but there are effective ways to limit your exposure.

Plastic is so commonplace in our world today that it’s nearly impossible to imagine I a life without it. Striving for a plastic-free life, however, remains a noble and worthwhile goal – and it’s becoming easier with every year that passes, as more people demand plastic alternatives and refuse to participate in the grotesque plastic waste that’s filling our planet’s landfills. Here are some tips on how to get rid of plastic at home. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you think!

1. Avoid the worst plastic offenders

If you check the bottom of any plastic container, you’ll see a number (1 through 7) inside a triangle made of arrows. The worst plastics are:

#3 – Polyvinyl Chloride, an extremely toxic plastic that contains dangerous additives such as lead and phthalates and is used in plastic wrap, some squeeze bottles, peanut butter jars, and children’s toys

#6 – Polystyrene, which contains styrene, a toxin for the brain and nervous system, and is used in Styrofoam, disposable dishes, take-out containers, plastic cutlery

#7 – Polycarbonate/Other category, which contains bisphenol A and is found in most metal food can liners, clear plastic sippy cups, sport drink bottles, juice and ketchup containers

2. Use non-plastic containers

Carry a reusable water bottle and travel mug wherever you go. Pack your lunch in glass (Mason jars are wonderfully versatile), stainless steel, stacking metal tiffins, cloth sandwich bags, a wooden Bento box, etc. Take reusables to the supermarket, farmers’ market, or wherever you’re shopping, and have them weighed before filling. (Here is a list of 7 plastic-free lunch options.)

3. Never drink bottled water

Buying bottled water in North America is absurd, especially when you consider that bottled water is less regulated than tap water; it’s usually just filtered tap water; it’s exorbitantly expensive; it’s a gross waste of resources to collect, bottle, and ship it; and it results in unnecessary plastic waste that’s usually not recycled. (via Life Without Plastic)

4. Shop in bulk

The more items you can buy in bulk, the more you’ll save in packaging. While this mentality has been the norm for years at special bulk food stores, it’s fortunately becoming more common in supermarkets. You’ll save money in food costs and, if you drive, in the gas used for extra trips to the store.

Search for items such as large wheels of cheese, without any plastic packaging, and stock up on those whenever possible. (Read Why I’m hooked on grocery shopping with glass jars.)

5. Avoid frozen convenience foods

Convenience foods are among the worst culprits for excessive packaging waste. Frozen foods come wrapped in plastic and packaged in cardboard, which is often lined with plastic, too. There’s not any way around it; it’s a shopping habit that will have to go if you’re serious about ditching plastic.

6. Avoid non-stick cookware

Don’t expose yourself and your family to toxic perfluorochemicals that are released when non-stick surfaces such as Teflon are heated. Replace with cast iron (which works just as well as non-stick if seasoned and cared for properly), stainless steel, or copper cookware.

7. Make your own condiments

This could be a fun experiment in canning, and if you dedicate a whole day to it, you could have enough to last the whole year. Make cucumber or zucchini relish and ketchup when late-summer vegetables are at their peak. Items such as chocolate sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise are quick and simple to make once you get the hang of them. Everything can be kept in glass jars.

8. Let baking soda and vinegar become your new best friends

Baking soda, which comes for cheap in large cardboard boxes, and vinegar, which comes in large glass jars, can be used to clean, scour, and disinfect the house and wash dishes, replacing plastic cleaning bottles; soda can be turned into an effective homemade deodorant; and both soda and vinegar (apple cider, specifically) can replace shampoo and conditioner bottles. (Read about how I haven’t used shampoo for 18 months.)

9. Use natural cloths instead of plastic scrubbers

If you need something with scrubbing power, go for copper instead of plastic. Use a cotton dishcloth or a coconut coir brush for dishes, instead of a plastic scrub brush. Use cotton facecloths instead of disposable wipes. Don’t underestimate the versatility of old rags!

10. Keep your laundry routine plastic-free

Use soap flakes, soap strips, or soap nuts instead of conventional laundry detergents that come in plastic-lined cardboard with plastic scoops or thick plastic jugs. They are truly awful for the planet. You can read more about that here.

Along the same lines, use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap. Bar soap works as a good shaving cream alternative, too.

Tags: Plastic Bags | Plastics | Reusability | Waste | Zero Waste

 

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National Federation of the Blind Applauds Issuance of “508 Refresh” Regulations

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The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for blind Americans to gain equal access to information and technology, today applauded the publication of new technical standards to bring information and communication technology (ICT)  into compliance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, which requires government agencies and contractors to make their electronic information and technology accessible to the blind and others with disabilities.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Information and communication Technology has changed a great deal since the last Section 508 regulations were issued, and has become an even more integral part of everyday life. Yet blind people, particularly blind federal employees, continue to struggle with access barriers when interacting with electronic and information technology used or procured by federal agencies. For these reasons, we are extremely pleased that the new Section 508 standards have finally been published. Government agencies and contractors should now understand how to make information and services accessible to the blind, allowing federal employees to perform their job functions effectively and other blind Americans to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens.”

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their ICT accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.


About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

Christopher S. Danielsen, J.D.
Director of Public Relations
200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330 | cdanielsen@nfb.org
Twitter: @rlawyer

The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives they want.

 

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John McAfee Fled to Belize, But He Couldn’t Escape Himself

 

Photo: Brian Finke

 

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This 41-year-old piece of trash shows us just how long plastic stays in the environment

yogurtLet’s go back in time, to the year 1976. Fidel Castro has just been elected the president of Cuba, Steve Jobs founded a company called Apple, and Wild Cherry’s hit Play That Funky Music is topping the charts. At the same time, someone in Montreal finished their Yoplait yogurt and tossed the plastic carton into the trash.

Now fast forward to right now – 2017. You’re probably reading this on your iPhone. Fidel Castro and Steve Jobs have both passed away, Apple is a 700 billion dollar company, and Wild Cherry has been broken up for almost four decades (thankfully Play That Funky Music survives them). But while the world looks very different from the one in 1976, the one thing that has not changed is the plastic carton of Yoplait. This is a photo of the 41-year-old piece of garbage after it washed up on a beach in Sarasota, Florida.

Disco has long since died, but it will take 450 years for this yogurt carton to degrade, and we have been producing and consuming plastics steadily since it was tossed into the trash 40 years ago. In fact, plastic production has increased 620 percent in the past 30 years along and we now put 300 million tons of plastic materials into circulation every year.  Keep in mind, only 15 percent of these plastics are recycled. The rest, like this Yoplait carton, eventually make their way into our oceans.

Every year 8.8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year, but a recent UN study estimates that, at the current rate, by 2050 we will produce 33 billion tons of plastic annually and so the amount of plastic entering our waterways is set to increase as well. After entering the ocean, plastic pollution lodges in the digestive systems of marine life, entangles and strangles animals, and breaks down into harmful microplastics that choke out life on the sea floor. Plastic pollution currently threatens 817 species of marine and wildlife – that’s a whole lot of problems to accompany a disposable item we typically use for a few minutes.

This Yoplait carton reminds us that this problem is not going anywhere for a long, long time. So what can we do to fix this looming issue? There are many people working on the problem. Regions in the UK and India have instituted bans on plastic bags and disposable plastics that have proven to be very effective. But we can also do our part on a day to day basis by cutting plastic out of our lives? Remember to bring a tote bag with you to the grocery store instead of using the plastic bags there and bring your own water bottle with you when you leave the house instead of picking up a disposable one while you are out. For more tips on how to reduce your plastic waste join One Green Planet’s Crush Plastic campaign and start saving the world!

 

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What a jackhole: Trump orders ambassadors to yank their kids out of school and come home ASAP

U.S. Ambassador Denise Bauer with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. Bauer is being forced to return to the U.S. even though her daughter is just months from graduating high school.

It wouldn’t be a story about Donald Trump if it didn’t start with “in a break with precedent.” In this case, it’s a break with decades of precedent: Trump has told all politically appointed U.S. ambassadors around the world that they must return home by Inauguration Day, full stop, end of story, consequences be damned.

And the consequences are plenty. For starters, it means that America won’t have diplomats in place in many countries by the time Trump is sworn in. That’s a situation that would endure for months, since the Senate has to actually confirm each new ambassador, one by one. It’s also liable to frighten our allies and embolden our not-so-allies, though if anything, that’s probably to Trump’s liking.

But it’s for exactly these reasons that past presidents have always made exceptions, even for political appointees from the other party, to ensure continuity in our diplomatic relations, and also just not to be raging dicks to people who’ve gone overseas to serve our country. Lots of them, for instance, have families and young children abroad with them—children who are in the middle of their school year. Without visas, these people can’t remain in their host countries and are scrambling to either find a way to stay, or to uproot their kids and place them in new schools back home.

It’s fucking obnoxious, is what it is:

In Costa Rica, Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald Haney is hunting for a house or an apartment as his family—which includes four school-age children and his wife, who has been battling breast cancer—struggles to figure out how to avoid a move back to the United States with five months left in the school year, according to the diplomats.

Some anonymous Trump apparatchik claimed “there was no ill will in the move,” so of course that means there was. And you can be doubly sure, because you know who didn’t have to uproot her child in the middle of his school year when her husband suddenly had to leave town? Oh right!

At a White House farewell reception that Mr. Obama held on Wednesday night for noncareer ambassadors, many of them commiserated, attendees said, comparing notes about how to handle the situation.

Some expressed dismay that Mr. Trump, whose wife, Melania, has chosen to stay in New York to avoid moving the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, to a new school midyear, would not ensure that such allowances were made for American ambassadors.

Yeah, her. But none of Obama’s ambassadors. Who needs ambassadors, right? Not Donald Trump. He has a very good brain, uses the best words, and knows more than the generals, so he definitely knows more than our ambassadors do—I mean, he’s obviously terrific at diplomacy.

This is yet another reason why Senate Democrats need to grill the living daylights out of Rex Tillerson, the oilman who’s Trump’s nominee for secretary of state and would be in charge of our diplomatic corps. Does Tillerson think it’s a good idea to leave our embassies leaderless for an indefinite length of time, and to send a message to future diplomats that you’ll be treated like shit once your term is over? And if not, what does he plan to do about it?

If he doesn’t have good answers—and he won’t—Chuck Schumer & Co. need to do everything in their power to thwart Tillerson’s nomination. We’ll be watching.

 

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It wasn’t just Trump that got Congress to reverse its spectacularly shady ethics move.

On Jan. 2, just a few hours before new members of Congress were set to be sworn in, the House Republican caucus voted to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. The outcry was fierce and immediate.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Critics blasted the secrecy of the move. Watchdog groups on both sides of the aisle expressed their disapproval. Democrats hammered Republicans for reversing themselves on President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp.”

The next morning, the caucus voted by unanimous consent to restore the original rules for the OCE.

Some attributed the turnaround to a series of critical tweets from Trump, which questioned the timing of the decision — without addressing whether the change was a good idea on the merits.

With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it

Trump referred to the watchdog committee’s practices — which permit the public to register concerns about House members’ potentially corrupt dealings — as “unfair.” But he went on to suggest that the OCE shouldn’t be Congress’ top priority.

Just as critical to the effort to reverse the rule change, however, were the hundreds of critics on both sides of the aisle who urged ordinary people to speak out.

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch blasted the move as “shameful,” “shady,” and “corrupt.”

Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office http://jwatch.us/GXQi1w 

Photo published for Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office - Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office – Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton today made the following statement regarding the proposed change to House rules that would eliminate its Office of Congressional Ethics:  It is…

judicialwatch.org

Others urged citizens to call their representatives and provided resources…

…including the direct phone numbers of individual House members.

One North Carolina representative said his office was inundated with calls from constituents demanding the GOP reverse course.

House GOP now in closed door meeting. Rep Walter Jones R-NC says his office swamped with calls on ethics changes

Other congress members told reporters a similar story.

Most members tell me blizzard of angry constituent calls were most impt factor in getting the House to sideline the amdt

After the reversal, a congressman from Idaho said, “I could have told you last night when we left this would be undone,” downplaying Trump’s influence on the decision.

Democracy works best when people hold their elected representatives accountable for trying to sneak shady things past them.

We voted for the Congress we voted for. That’s not going to change for at least the next two years. But we can still do our best to let them know we’re watching them, and that we vote.

Trump’s tweets are shiny, so it’s no wonder he’s getting much of the credit for moving the needle. Mass public outcry, however, certainly didn’t hurt when it came to getting this thing undone.

It’s not terribly surprising that a bunch of Americans would be upset about their elected representatives trying to change the rules to make it easier for them to get away with sketchy, corrupt things. Perhaps more surprising is that those same members of Congress are listening to us when we tell them how pissed we are — even if they’re doing it to preserve their own butts.

The lesson here?

Go ahead and add “call your member of Congress to complain” to your daily routine

Call. Call. Call. It can’t hurt. And it could help make politics in America just a tiny bit more honest and transparent.

 

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SICK DAY: The upcomming fight over Obamacare

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THE STORY

Congress is coughing up a fit. The topic? Obamacare.

REMIND ME.

In 2010, President Obama signed his favorite thing ever – the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) – into law. Ever since, it’s been a political headache. The law was supposed to make it easier and cheaper for people to get health insurance. And right now, the number of people who are uninsured is at its lowest level. Ever. But critics say it does things like create losses for insurance providers and gives the gov too much power. So the GOP’s tried to repeal or hinder it dozens of times. And it’s gone to the Supreme Court four times for different reasons. But no dice on the repeal.

SO WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?

ICYMI, one of President-elect Donald Trump’s main campaign promises was to repeal Obamacare. Yesterday, President Obama went to the Hill to get Dem lawmakers’ help in protecting his legacy. And Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to the Hill to say that getting rid of Obamacare will be the “first order of business” for the incoming administration. And since Republicans are about to control both Congress and the White House, their ‘end of Obamacare’ dreams could come true.

WILL IT BE EASY?

No. Democrats say they’re going to put up a major fight. So far, around 20 million people have signed up for insurance through Obamacare. But since it’s unclear what exactly the GOP plans to replace it with, no one really knows what will happen to those millions of people if the law goes away. The GOP says it’s working on a “smooth transition.” K.

theSKIMM

In one corner of the ring is a major part of President Obama’s legacy and the current healthcare system for millions of Americans. In the other corner is President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress that’s been waiting for this moment for years. Rumble in the GOP jungle.

Skimm This
 

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