Skip to main content

Interview with Plastic-Free Beth

PrestonBy Micaela Preston

This was originally posted on
Micaela’s blog, Mindful Momma

This may sound weird, but my
friend Beth comes with me whenever I go shopping, whether it’s at the grocery,
or Target or wherever I happen to be. She’s not with me physically, but in my
mind. You see Beth lives her life devoted to using as little plastic as
possible. She is the founder of the blog My Plastic-free Life and
author of the new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit
and How You Can Too

Beth is a
diligent researcher and has found solutions to almost every plastic situation
she is confronted with. A few highlights from the book include:

  • How to store fruits and vegetables
    without plastic
  • DIY recipes for liquid soap, cough
    syrup, homemade chocolate syrup and more
  • Tutorial for making a cloth bag out
    of a t-shirt
  • “Show Your Plastic
    Challenge” worksheet
  • Inspiring stories of Plastic-Free
    Heros who have paved the way
  • 9 reasons our personal changes

I asked Beth a few questions
about her journey:

Q: After rooming with you at
BlogHer, I am amazed at your dedication to refusing anything that contains
plastic. Which products have been most difficult to find a plastic-free version
of? Are there some things you have simply had to live without? 

When I started this project, I was a junk
food/convenience food addict.  I didn’t want to cook. Instead, I
lived on frozen microwaveable meals and energy bars wrapped in plastic. I
searched and searched for frozen foods not packaged in plastic, but finally, I
had to accept that all containers that are leakproof contain some kind of
plastic.  Even cardboard containers are lined with plastic. So I had
to learn to eat whole foods, which was so much better for me! I never
found a plastic-free energy bar either, but I did find recipes for homemade ones.

Q: Many of us
have already made the switch to reusable bags and bottles. What are a few other
products that are easy to find plastic-free but that we might not think about?

I’ve found all kinds of surprising
plastic-free products. I carry a glass drinking
, use a stainless steel ice
cube tray
, make popsicles with a stainless steel
mold, buy lip balm in ingenious
compostable cardboard tubes, use cloth produce bags and sandwich baggies,
and even found plastic-free
chewing gum
. Most people don’t realize that the majority of
chewing gum–even “natural” gums like Glee–contain plastic in the
gum base.

Q: I personally
find that product packaging is one of the hardest places to avoid plastic. What
are some tips for finding products without plastic packaging?

For food items, shop farmers markets and
stores with bulk bins that will let you bring your own bags and containers
instead of taking plastic bags. For durable goods, buying secondhand and
renting or borrowing can avoid a lot of the packaging from new products and
also reduce your consumption overall. And when you do need to buy
something new, write to companies before ordering online to ask for products to
be shipped without plastic packaging and write to product manufacturers asking
them to change their packaging. I have one story in the book describing
how I was actually successful in encouraging a company to change.

Q: Your Take
Back the Filter campaign was a huge success! Should we be lobbying our favorite
businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic? Will they listen?

Yes! They will listen the
more of us speak up.  The Take Back The Filter campaign was
an action to get Clorox, the owner of the Brita water filter company in North
America, to create a recycling program for its plastic cartridges.  We
wrote letters to the company executive committee members (which we found in
their annual report), created a website, created a petition (and got over
16,000 signatures), opened a post office box and had people from all over North
America send us their used filters, contacted every blogger we knew, contacted
every environmental group we thought might help us promote the campaign,
contacted the media and even got a mention in the New York Times!  Within 8
months, I got a call from the Brita brand manager to let me know they had
developed a way to recycle Brita filters.
They really just needed to know that enough people cared.

I encourage you to pick up a
copy of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit
and How You Can Too
– you’ll be surprised at how much you can
change in your life with minimal effort. I am thankful to Beth for being the
voice in my head, helping me to make the best decisions for my family and the

What do you do to reduce plastic
usage in your life?