Plastic wrapped plastic crap

I went into the store the other day intending to by one plastic item (ice cube trays) and somehow left with two additional items.

The ice cube trays were a necessary evil.  I freeze my pumped breast milk in the trays before transferring to freezer bags (yes, I know, MORE plastic).  I don’t like Sir’s milk coming in contact with plastic (we use glass bottles and I store refrigerated milk in glass jars), but I just don’t know of a better way to store the milk.

My previous trays, which I’d had for years, but rarely used, finally gave out.  Age and repeated freezing broke down the plastic — I waited as long as I could, but their condition forced me to face the inevitable.  I found this stainless steel ice cube tray, but I just couldn’t swallow $33 for one tray (I needed two).

As for the other plastic crap, I’d been looking for some kind of tray that we could attach to the table — something with a lip to help Sir pick up food, but that he wouldn’t be able to pick up and launch across the room.  (We don’t have a high chair, just a baby seat that attaches to the edge of the table.)

Online searching had not yielded much, so, since I was already at the store I headed to the baby section to peruse options, not expecting to find anything.  I spotted the Tommee Tippee silicone mat (orange item in picture) that adheres to the table top and features a suction cup in the middle, which holds a variety of plastic dishes made by the same company.  I doubted their utility, but I’d been searching for a solution for quite awhile, so I purchased a mat and a 2-pack of plates.

The verdict?  Yes, it’s plastic, and it came in plastic packaging, but the mat is quite useful.  I’m not sure about the plate.  The mat’s suction cup actually works fairly well on our glass plates, so the main advantage of the plastic plates is the low (but not too low) and straight lip/edge to aid picking up food.

If you already had a plate or bowl (be it plastic, glass, or metal) with that feature and a smooth bottom for attaching to the suction cup, you could avoid purchasing their special dishes.  As it is, I use the plastic plates when serving food that I think he’ll have trouble grabbing and glass at other times.

Could we have avoided the plastic here?  Yes, but I’m learning that raising a baby (and not going completely insane and/or broke searching for the “perfect” green and healthy solution for every little thing) involves some compromises.  On the upside, I have not generated the waste involved with formula feeding or buying prepared baby food, which would make these purchases look inconsequential.

Coming soon: The “Green Baby Strategies” post

Lids at last

Don’t let the food fool you, this post is actually about the container.  Though I must confess that I still own and use plastic (gasp!) containers on a regular basis, I am adamant about glass for some things, particularly warm or hot food.

I just don’t trust plastic, even the “BPA-free” plastic.  I figure it just contains some yet-to-be discovered, and perhaps worse, toxin leaching into my food.  I cringe when I see coworkers nuking their lunches in plastic containers — yikes!

Unless the food cools to room temperature first (at which point we’re probably in the bacteria-growth danger zone), we store all of our leftovers in glass containers.  We also use glass to transport our lunches for easy microwave heating at work.

Though it’s a compromise because it still involves plastic, we’ve found that glass containers with plastic lids work well.  This container style forms a relatively good seal for transporting the food to and from work, which can involve a good bit of jostling.  If we fill the containers to the brim, we refrigerate and put the lids on after the food is cool, and we remove the lids before reheating the food — one of those “not perfect, but good enough” solutions.

With normal use  and wear (i.e., not getting dropped on a hard surface), the glass containers have quite a long life.  That makes the plastic the weakest link.  After a couple of years of regular use, the plastic lids started showing their age, cracking at the edges, no longer forming a good seal.

Over a year ago, I searched for replacement lids in vain, frustrated that I couldn’t buy just a lid to go with the container that was still in perfectly good shape.  I’m rather certain I contacted the company directly and was told they didn’t make replacements — argh!  In the meantime, we wanted to expand our glass container collection and reluctantly purchased two sets of the same style, knowing about the lid issue.

For some reason, Matthew or I resumed the lid hunt a couple of months ago, and this time we our search ended in success! (3/4/14 Link Update: find replacement lids here.)

To maximize the shipment, we ordered a couple of spare lids for each size of glass container, including some for my MIL who has the same containers with the same lid issues.  (Speaking of the shipment — ridiculously over-packaged!  Must remember to add “please minimize/avoid plastic when packing.”)  While it’s frustrating knowing that these lids will also wear out, I’m happy to get more good use out of the glass.

Plastic trash tally

As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I took the “Show Your Plastic Challenge” on Fake Plastic Fish.

The trashy truth is now posted for the world to see.  Click here to see my Week 1 results and my thoughts on where I can cut back on plastic trash.

Anyone else out there ready to take the challenge?

Taking the Challenge!

Several weeks ago, I wrote this post about plastic and how we can (and must) reduce the plastic waste we generate.  In that post, I provided a link to some useful information on Beth Terry’s blog Fake Plastic Fish.

Today I committed to doing Beth’s “Show Your Plastic Challenge,” where I will collect, photograph, and catalog all the plastic trash (including recyclables) that I produce in one week.  This particular week I’ve chosen has a few twists that will keep things interesting and challenging.

The idea for the first week is to “live normally” in terms of your plastic waste and use that week as a guide for how you might begin to reduce.  Anyone else out there want to join me?


My wait for a copy of Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man at the library finally ended last week.  I’m only 70 pages into the book, but I’m comfortable recommending this read.  In fact, go to your library website and request it now (maybe you won’t have to wait as long as I did).  Then come back here for more.

Book requested?  Okay.  Colin’s book inspired this post, and will, perhaps, inspire other posts if I get around to writing them.

I found this bit on plastic particularly horrifying:

“A thousand miles off the coast of California, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is a swirling soup of floating trash twice the size of the continental United States.  [It] contains six times as much plastic, by weight, as bio-matter.”


“In the North Pacific alone, an estimated 100,000 sea turtles and sea mammals, a million seabirds, and countless fish starve to death each year after plastic blocks their digestive tracks.”  (Emphasis added.)

Plastic wreaks havoc not only on the environment, but also on human health.  (I won’t go into detail on that here.  If you want to know more, one possible read is Slow Death by Rubber Duck.  I haven’t read it, but Rebecca reviewed it here.)

Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish dramatically reduced her plastic consumption.  Click here to read her guide for some great places to start.

A recent TreeHugger article lays out an argument for eliminating disposable plastic while acknowledging that there may be some situations where plastic IS the best material for the task.  It took me forever to find that article again, but I did it for you because it’s worth a read, so click the link up there.

This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.  One change I’ve been focusing on over the past several weeks is buying more food (food that I would normally get in plastic bags) from bulk bins so I can reuse the rather large number of plastic bags I’ve accumulated.

So, what will you do to reduce your plastic waste?  See Beth Terry’s guide (link above) if you need inspiration, and then share your action step here.

Quotes from No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, p. 54.