Another Look at Plastic-Free July: Traveling

Plastic-Free July is a concept that started a few years ago in Australia. (You can read my previous Plastic-Free post here)

I knew I’d be traveling this summer, so before I even started Plastic-Free July, I thought about my two main challenges: produce and coffee.

I already use canvas shopping bags for toting purchases from the farmers’ market and the grocery store, so it’s no trouble to keep one in my suitcase; I usually do that anyway. But I often end up using the plastic produce bags at the stores. I decided to take some old ones along for reuse, and that worked, most of the time.

When I got home, I went shopping and found these cotton produce bags.

Cotton produce bags: plastic free AND washable.

Cotton produce bags: plastic free AND washable.

I can use and reuse these. Of course the best option would be to plant a garden, but I don’t have the space, the light, or the dirt for more than the three pepper plants and little spot of herbs that I already have.

As for coffee: here’s the shameful result of 2 weeks of forgetting to keep my travel cup with me.

Accumulated coffee lids and cardboard sleeves: I'm guilty during Plastic-Free July.

A guilty admission: there were a couple more lids that were not recyclable and I didn’t bring them home.

I have a sense of failure here, but at least I collected the lids and cardboard sleeves and brought them back to recycle, then spent the rest of the month drinking my coffee at home. At first I congratulated myself on thinking that it’s easy to find coffee beans in a paper, rather than plastic, container — then I noticed that my electric coffee pot is plastic with a glass carafe. Good grief. I’m going back to using my glass and metal cafe press, so I can feel a tiny bit virtuous.

I think the main lesson of plastic-free July is awareness. Now that I’m actively looking, I see plastic everywhere: jars of prepared foods, bottles of juice, cups of yogurt, plastic-wrapped cheeses, plastic-bagged carrots, plastic clamshells of mushrooms, berries, grapes, tomatoes. Plastic water bottles? No — too big a subject for this post. Not going there.

Now that I see all the plastic, I’m able to think of ways to work around some of it. Even small changes can add up. My home made yogurt tastes pretty good, and saves a few plastic cups per week. And I can’t resist using a photo of these amazing farmer’s market mushrooms one more time.  (Nope. I didn’t push the color. What you see is what you get.)

Plastic-free farmer's market mushrooms.

No clamshell plastic-free mushrooms.

And yes, it hasn’t escaped me that I popped the plastic SD card out of my plastic-bodied camera to load these photos.

Let’s take it one more step: could there be a downside to all this plastic besides the obvious load on the landfills and oceans for the percent that doesn’t get recycled? What about our bodies? What happens to us, with our constant exposure to BPA, pthalates, and possible endocrine disruptors? In other words — all this plastic? Here’s some food for thought…

Plastic-free July is over now, and I admit that being completely plastic-free is beyond my reach. But it’s still possible to use plastic less. Will you join me in a “plastic less” year?

For more information on Plastic-Free July, visit:


Still Selling Used Books on

I veered off to related topics on recent posts and haven’t mentioned things I’ve been able to get rid of – er, find homes for.

Bobs alligator IMG_3314

What? You mean not everyone has an alligator on their book case?
(I found that in Bob’s stuff too)

It’s always a pleasure to sort books, and from April through June I brought up four more of Bob’s book-boxes from the basement and went through them, as well as the residual stacks of books from my failed eBay experiment. There are only five boxes left now, and I’ve decided to save them until I make some room. Mind you that’s just the books, there are plenty of other boxes left in the basement.

My shelf of non-fiction books for sale on

Non-fiction for sale on seller account “Bob’s Stuff”

Above is my shelf of the non-fiction books I’ve listed on I have just as many more on other shelves that are fiction — see why I’m not unpacking any more boxes for a while?

Here are some close-ups for title reading purposes…

A shelf of fiction books for sale on

This is from a fiction shelf: lots of Pogo, and look Ma, “Robots Have No Tails”.

Some more favorites:

The Gentle Art of Mathematics

The Computation of Orbits

The 5-minute Guaranteed Ukelele Course (what?)

The Large Scale Structure of Space Time (sold in 3 weeks)

The Bawdy and the Naughty (that’s “Lewd Limericks, Pungent Parodies, Rowdy Repartee, Worldly Wisecracks,” and more)

Practical Poultry Management (wait, what again?)

Books I've saved for Donald and Emily.

Books I saved for Donald and Emily.

In the April-June books, I found over a hundred to list for sale on Amazon and gave dozens to friends (thank you friends). Meanwhile, I  perfected the art of asking people what they’d like. Now I stack the books, photograph them, and email visual lists of what’s available. As for the rest, I gave bags full to my Library and to Goodwill.

I have to admit I’m reluctant to finish unpacking books – a task much cleaner and more intellectually stimulating than, say, cleaning out the garage (still in progress). It’s also more personal. When I unpack a box of Bob’s books I see things he packed away before we even moved here, yet they’re things that were important to him to keep. And they’re not just things, they’re books, which means to me they hold a kind of magic. Poetry, fiction, dense philosophy, complicated mathematical theories, bawdy limericks, it doesn’t matter: each one opens a little window of insight.

Since Bob’s death, I’ve sought to know him better through the things he left behind. What we read forms our minds and nurtures our spirits. Could there be a better way to learn about someone than by seeing the books he’s read, and meant to read, and was amused by, inspired by, or instructed by? I don’t think so.

Five more boxes – I’ll try to finish with them by the end of the year. And yes, if/when I’m successful in downsizing, someday my heirs can just donate my e-reader.

Related Posts:

Selling Used Books on

Too Much Stuff: Buying Multiple Copies of Books

Book Donations

National Farmer’s Market Week: August 4-11

This is a quick post to celebrate National Farmer’s Market week and share some photos from my local market:

Farmer's Market in June: it can be crowded if you don't get there early. This was at 9:45 AM.

It can be crowded if you don’t get there early. This was at 9:45 AM on market day a few weeks ago.

Local farmer's market: on some Saturdays we have an art market too.

On some Saturdays we have an art market too.

There are lots of good things at the farmer’s market —

Vegetables at the local farmer's market: August selection.

Vegetables of course!

Sprouts from Red Earth Organic Farm at the local farmer's market.

Sprouts… (Red Earth Organic)

Mushrooms from 5th Kingdom at the local farmer's market.

Mushrooms…(5th Kingdom)

May bouquets at the local farmer's market.

Plants and flowers: here’s a selection from May.

The Producers, from Hometown Honey: local honey at the farmer's market.

Local honey: and here are the producers from Hometown Honey.

I bought JB Farm Fresh eggs at the local farmer's market -- here are the producers (which came first?)..

(JB Farm Fresh Eggs) More producers: I bought eggs not hens, but which came first?

Soap from The Herb Garden at the local farmer's market.

Soaps from The Herb Garden: and look, there’s a “no packaging” option.

Shea butter from Just Butter at the local farmer's market.

Luscious shea butter…from Just Butter.

Thank you farmer’s markets everywhere for giving us a chance to shop locally.

(Not to mention a chance to reuse egg cartons)

Do you have a favorite local market?

Related posts:

Related sites: