Living Lightly

Susan Vogt on living more simply but abundantly

Browsing Posts tagged Plastics

Fires are not only destroying forests in Canada but creating new kinds of air pollution in the USA. The environmental Doomsday Clock is currently around 90 seconds to midnight – and moving forward. I’m getting older (aren’t we all ☹) and tired of fighting the good fight to reduce poverty, social injustice, and global warming. […]

Since the city I live in (Covington, KY) borders the Ohio River, last weekend I participated in an annual “River Sweep.” The goal is to clean up trash along the wooded banks of the Kentucky side of the river. I met with about 30 other diligent environmental do-gooders armed with old jeans, hearty shoes, gloves, […]

Halloween can carry both a spiritual and secular meaning, Spiritually “Halloween” can be translated as “Holy Eve” – the evening before All Saints Day on Nov. 1. It also reminds us of the Fall harvest season. Secularly Halloween is more commonly known for celebrating frightful experiences and creative costuming. For those who consider being on […]

As I write this “Pruning Plastic” blog post it is July 23. One more week till the end of July’s Plastic Free Ecochallenge – an international effort to motivate people to reduce their use of Single Use Plastics (SUPs) by learning, documenting, and competing with folks around the world. Sure, it’s a game, but a […]

Curbside recycling is convenient and prevents many items from polluting our land, air, and water or languishing in landfills. The local Cincinnati area waste collection company (Rumpke) has recently added “to-go” cups to what can be put in curbside recycling. Good! BUT, what about items you no longer need but you want to find a […]

BOTTOM LINE for those in a hurry: • The best bags are ones you already have. Reuse them. (I had accumulated about 15 reusable bags over the years, mostly as swag from conferences. If you want to know which are the least harmful to the environment and why, read on. • Refuse Single Use Plastic […]

Two recent experiences have prompted me to prayer. Ideally prayer is a conversation with the God who dwells within me as I explore deep spiritual truths about what is really important in life. Often this is a quiet time, prompted by scripture and nature. But sometimes the Spirit breaks in through the activities of my […]

We often use the terms reduce, reuse, and recycle in an
attempt to reduce our carbon footprint but consider the
stronger cousin of reduce – REFUSE.
Often we accept items we don’t need from restaurants or stores that find their way immediately to the
garbage can. If we do not need in the first place, REFUSE them, then we also don’t need to find ways of
reusing or recycling them.
Consider the Following:
1) REFUSE unnecessary plastic silverware, plates, napkins, or sauces when ordering food for
delivery or take out.
2) REFUSE excess plastic wrappings when carrying out from Restaurants. EX: plastic wrapping, etc.
3) REFUSE straws at Restaurants politely. If you don’t drink water, let the server know.
4) Offer positive feedback for Sustainable Practices at restaurants to encourage continued use
5) Consider giving the manager of the restaurant the sample letter below. Simply acknowledge
your enjoyment of the restaurant and ask manager to consider adopting sustainable practices.
6) Take reusable bags to the grocery store or other retail stores to use.
7) REFUSE plastic bags when buying produce at the Grocery Store.
8) Select sturdy and washable utensils and tableware for picnics and parties
9) Use washable clothes napkins instead of paper napkins
10) Use sponges and dishcloths instead of paper towels.
11) Refill Cleaning Supplies in Bottle from Bulk Refill Liquids.
12) Use rechargeable batteries
13) Bring Reusable Mugs to the coffee shop with you.
14) Reuse Printed Pages and Junk Mail for scratch paper
15) Use Handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue.
16) Borrow or Rent tools that you don’t often use such as ladders, tillers, tables for parties, tools.
17) Consider using cloth diapers.
18) Use Reusable Dryer Balls instead of dryer sheets.
19) Don’t treat “best used before” dates as absolute, check food to see if bad (non-meat/dairy).
20) Freeze excess leftovers rather than dumping it in the garbage. DEAR RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT,
I very much enjoy your food & service. In addition, I am very concerned about the welfare of our
planet. In the future, I plan to patronize business and order food from businesses and restaurants that
follow environmentally healthy practices. Please consider the following things.
1) Styrofoam plates and cups remain in landfills forever. They break down into small particles but
never go away. They pollute our land and our waterways forever. Approximately 1400 tons of
Styrofoam are buried each day in U.S. landfills. When burned, carbon black and carbon
monoxide are released into the air.
2) Plastic bags and plates are also not biodegradable. Animals and birds become tangled in the
trash and can suffocate or become permanently harmed.
3) Plastic silverware is considered one of the most harmful items to oceanic sea life. It breaks
into small sharp pieces that clog the stomachs of birds, fish and other animals.
4) Plastic straws break down into ever smaller particles releasing chemicals into the soil, air and
water that are harmful to people and wildlife.
There are small things that your restaurant can do to be more sustainable which I look forward and
appreciate. Please consider the following:
1) Use paper bags instead of plastic bags.
2) Use paper or cardboard plates and cups instead of plastic or Styrofoam
3) Consider biodegradable straws.
4) Don’t dispense plastic cutlery unless the consumer asks for it.
5) Consider biodegradable cutlery.
6) Use cardboard clamshells instead of Styrofoam or wrap food in aluminum foil.
Thank for the above considerations.

I’m not irresponsible. I’ve avoided eating in restaurants during the Covid pandemic. Nor am I stupid. I know that foam takeout food containers (often incorrectly called Styrofoam) are not good for our environment. BUT, I knew that our local restaurants were in economic peril from a lack of customers and I wanted to support local […]

We’re down to Holy Week and I haven’t done a total clean sweep of all the hidden places in our home, but I have found stuff I didn’t know we still had and put them in 3 categories: 1. KIDS’ STUFF: * How many puzzles should one home have for a rainy day? Probably a […]

Reducing SUPs (Single Use Plastics) is a laudable goal. Although some SUPs are necessary (for example medical use), reducing & recycling plastics are only partial and temporary solutions. Therefore, the classic environmental mantra – Reduce/Reuse/Recycle needs a “P” for PREVENTION. I have divided Prevention into two sub-categories – Substitutions and Stop the Production. To explore […]

In my last blog post (Plastics-Is It Worth It?) I suggested you watch the documentary, Plastic Wars. If you did your homework, you may now feel discouraged. Is recycling plastic worth it? Yes, BUT…the better solution is to reduce use of Single Use Plastics (aka SUPs) so there isn’t so much to recycle. Sure, plastics […]

Recycling plastic is good. It’s better than letting it pollute our air, water, land, wildlife, and scenery. But, is it worth it? I’ll have a lot more to say on this in upcoming blogs (Reducing Plastics #3 and Preventing Plastics #4). But for now, I’m wrestling with the question of how much recycling is worth […]

Plastics are convenient. They are light, durable, and often cheap. However, they are becoming toxic to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the animals we love, the soil that supports our food, and the beauty of natural landscapes and roads. I’ve recently become involved in a Pachamama Alliance action oriented environmental program. I […]

Recycling is virtuous. Most of us at least make an effort to do the right thing. We probably put out stuff for curbside recycling pickups. We may carry a reusable water bottle and take cloth bags to the grocery. BUT, what about when it gets more complicated and time consuming? Here’s my recent story. FAILING: […]

Now that ⅓ of Lent is over here are my successes, failures, and 4 lessons I’ve learned. My commitment was to do a daily act of kindness to another person, creation, or myself, i.e Just Kindness. I organized my actions into the following categories. Here’s what happened: Eat a vegetarian diet – This was successful […]

I’ve spent a week pondering how to make this coming Lent count. It has not been a quick or easy discernment. (That’s why last week’s blog was on 6 simple environmental tips. I wanted to share simple stuff before starting on a more rigorous routine.) Are you ready for Lent 2020? In addition to my […]

Life has been busy with little time to devote to serious possession pruning or recycling. My current volunteer priorities of environmental work and addressing the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church have been time consuming. Still, I’d like to share 6 more simple life tips before we plunge into Lent next week. Reduce Paper […]

The joy of Christmas is too often accompanied by over-consumption of presents and plastics. Neither is good for the soul. Over the years I’ve written a number of blogs on simplifying Christmas. Click here to review some of them. This year I offer you Joshua Becker’s list of How to Restore Gift Giving Sanity. BUT, […]

PRE-CYCLING: Before I address the topic of recycling, it’s worth starting at the beginning. Remember the classic “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra of the early earth friendly movement. Too often we jump to the third “Recycle” option when the “Reduce” and “Reuse” steps would  reduce the overall need for recycling. Some call this Precycling. Evaluate a […]