Our first attempt lasted precisely until lunch time, when two of us unwittingly came back from New Seasons with plastic – the first item was a carton with a tiny cap, and the second a soup container with a plastic lid. Neither one of our coworkers had realized what they were purchasing and were mildly surprised at how unconsciously they acquired it. Later in the day, Heather realized she was out of shampoo but couldn’t purchase a new bottle until the end of our challenge, and other coworkers commented on how avoiding acquiring plastic would impact their takeout plans. The challenge was shaping up to be a lot trickier than we first thought.
We knuckled down with renewed commitment, double-checking every purchase, bringing glass jars to buy bulk food at the grocery store and requesting compostable containers when available. At a Thai restaurant later in the week, Heather requested that the waiter avoid putting her leftovers in plastic and was thrilled when he reappeared with cardboard takeout boxes in a paper bag. However, upon arriving home and inspecting the contents of the sack, she was dismayed to find the restaurant had included condiments in small plastic containers.
“People concerned about the environment rightly point out the problem of plastic water bottles, but that’s only one small piece of everything plastic that we consume,” Heather mused toward the end of the week as we discussed how many things we had put off purchasing because of plastic.
At the end of the week, many of us were relieved to have the burden of avoiding acquiring plastics lift from our shoulders, but it was replaced by increased awareness about just how difficult it is to avoid the substance. However, by examining our acquisition patterns during the week, we agreed we had developed some new habits that would allow us to continue to reduce our overall consumption of plastic.]]>
“Inspired by the SansLux blog and the idea of living without in order to appreciate the privileges we daily ignore, the Portland staff of the ReDirect Guide decided to do away with sugar and sweeteners for an entire week. In staff meeting Monday morning, we carefully drew up the rules.
“No honey, xylitol, agave nectar or anything of the kind,” Heather said. Our regional manager and area advocate, she is not often spotted eating anything sweetened, but when she gets the rare craving for a doughnut, it’s the fierce wild-eyed kind that signals woe to anyone between her and the pastry case at New Seasons.
Heads nodded gravely. It wouldn’t be easy: eliminating all sweeteners meant most of the sauces and half the prepared salad dressings on grocery store shelves had to go, as well as copious amounts of deli foods, most beverages and of course almost all traditional desserts.
We wished each other luck and the challenge began. That afternoon, we suddenly realized a coworker was starting to get ill. The entire staff sprinted for the refrigerator and liberally chugged Good Belly, a probiotic drink we hoped would ward off wayward germs. We congratulated ourselves on being proactive about our health until somebody thought to check the ingredient label and there it was in malignant little letters: SUGAR. There were groans all around. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Heather said as we gazed at the offending juice container. “Now let’s get back on the wagon and keep going!”
The rest of the week was an eye-opening and community building experience. We shared unsweetened fruit dessert ideas (baked pears with cinnamon, yum!), talked about how different life would have been before refined sugars, and generally commiserated with each other about the lack of prepared foods we could consume. By the end of the week, most of us reported feeling a little more clearheaded, a bit more energy, and a lot more thankfulness for the abundance of food that we could eat despite our self-imposed sugar restrictions.”]]>