Purging Plastics

Purging Plastics

Plastic has become the foundation of our modern life. From simple things like straws and food containers to life-saving devices and commercial packaging, it is here to stay. You would be hardpressed today to find real clothing. Most clothes today are made from plastic or a combination of a poly-cotton blend. People cook with it, store things in it, and find it difficult to live without.

We are no different from everyone else. Sometimes I think we’re worse because we know better! By ‘we’ I mean Dom and me. Back in 2011, we started the process of getting rid of plastic products from our home. Toys, storage and food containers, even clothes. We purchased glass jars and bowls for storing food and made the effort to shop for only cotton, wool, silk and natural fibers for our clothes.

Then we sold our house and moved 10 times over the course of 4 years. When our lives were constantly in flux, it made it difficult to make being plastic-free a priority.

Always in the back of my mind is that gnawing feeling of guilt that we have not kept our commitment to being plastic-free.

Dom and I recommitted to phasing out plastic as much as possible starting in 2020. I was very grieved by the lack of reusable materials I was creating for our coffee company, especially during the holiday rush. Everything from packing peanuts from companies shipping me supplies to my own use of lots of plastic products that are cheap and readily available has made me pause and decide to be accountable for my part in our plastic problem.

This year we’ll be transitioning our coffee company to more sustainable and compostable materials used in the creation and distribution of our products. From coffee bags with tin ties to glassine inner bags and paper bag outer packaging that is still tied with twine. I was embossing every bag I put coffee in which created a very unique packaging with texture and layers. I will be keeping the texture, just not with my own embossing. You see, the embossing powders I use are plastic, which gets melted onto each bag I emboss. I’ve embossed a few thousand bags in the last year and not a single one of them could be taken from the kitchen and put into a compost pile and turned into soil.

I know that not everyone composts. But we do. I don’t want to burden the garbage dump with our garbage because I couldn’t figure out a more clever way to have sustainable packaging. While not everyone composts and farms or gardens, many use recycling. Unfortunately in our rural county, we don’t have a recycling program. Garbage is either sent to the dump or it’s burned. We’ve done both. We’ve also separated plastic, glass, metal and brought it to Silver City where it could be recycled, however, Silver City no longer recycles glass (from what I was told) and we would need to drive our glass recyclables all the way to Las Cruces to dispose of them. I’m sorry, but there is nothing sustainable about spending over $50 in gas to take our glass containers to a place three hours away from us just to get rid of glass.

Sometimes things feel insane to my brain.

I’ve been looking at alternatives for our coffee company, as well as future farm products and things for our personal use. We don’t see how we can be 100% plastic free and maybe its because I’ve been in plastic for so long that I see no way out completely.

As an example, write now as I write this sentence, I’m sitting on a chair that has a plastic foam cushion. My old raggedy gray sweater is acrylic (plastic) and not wool, the keyboard I tap my fingers on…plastic. The modem, plastic. The paint that coats my desk holding my computer? Plastic. The little area rug under me? Plastic. My printers, mostly plastic.

There are so many things that we have that are made from this ubiquitous material. Cutting down and replacing where possible is the only solution we see as being responsible.

So what do we do with the things we are phasing out? If it’s a product that still has years of use, we’ll give it to those who need/want it. If its something that can no longer be used, we’ll recycle it. And that’s where it ends. I don’t want to a part of this problem any longer.

Animals are dying, people are dying. They don’t realize how many chemicals are in the plastic and they’re cooking or warming up food in it. And let’s not get started with the fact that all these products are petroleum-based and polluting our planet while they are being manufactured. Polluting the earth while the petroleum is being extracted.

Here are some of the things we’re looking to incorporate into our lives from now on. We’re not buying everything all at once, but instead, budget it in over the course of a few years. Slow and simple works best for us.

We regularly use Ball jars for storing foods, and we also have flip-top jars for storage, but we’ll be migrating over to jars with a wood top. Mostly because I love the way they look. We would put gluten-free pasta, rice, dried and other non-perishables in them.

We’ll be transitioning away from Ball jars for canning to Weck jars. One of the problems with regular mason or ball jars is that you need new jar lids each time you can something and the lining of the jar has a plastic coating on it. While I’m not condemning those who can using Ball, Kerr, or Mason jars, I’m just saying that we don’t want to use them for our family, or for future farm products that we will be offering. The lids on Weck jars are glass and do not contain any type of poly coating. This summer I canned up peach preserves and thought of giving them as gifts this Christmas to our family, but I changed my mind and decided to wait until after we own Weck jars to give food as gifts for the holiday season.

Plus, I love the way they look. šŸ™‚

Another step we’ll be making to reduce waste is to purchase in bulk or to take our containers to the co-op to fill our jars with what we need. I wouldn’t be bringing jars, but instead cotton or linen sacks so that the clerk can tare the sack before weighing. This can be done with most dried goods. We can also utilize the store’s meat department to have our meat wrapped with paper instead of plastic-lined butcher paper.

For clothing and shoes, I think this is the most difficult for us. Real clothing is expensive. And that’s the rub for us. Organic cotton, 100% wool, real silk, flax linen…all very costly. Especially when you have a man that can wear out a pair of pants in a matter of just a few weeks. He uses everything to its bitter end! Holes in the knees in just under a month, worn thin because he works harder than any man I know.

A daughter who is growing faster than I care to admit! She’s on the fast track to being as tall as Dom in the next few years. She’s tall with these supermodel legs that just won’t stop growing! Her feet? She’s already wearing my size shoes and she hasn’t turned 13 yet. It’s difficult finding clothes that she will wear because she only likes POLYESTER clothing. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. This kid loves all the fuzzy poly clothes. I’ve purchased her merino wool sweaters in the past, and she even thinks those are itchy. I gulp on the thought of buying her leather $75 shoes that she will outgrow in a matter of two months. And that’s just shoes! Boots and play shoes she’s pretty rough on as well.

Simmi sleeps with about 10 blankets. That is not an exaggeration. From greatest to least, every time she gets a new blanket, she adds it to her collection. She even sleeps with all of them in the summer. There is only one fully cotton blanket in the bunch, and that is the quilt I made for her back in 2013.

She’s also not fond of my quilt, although she’s begging for me to make her a new one. When I do, it will be of organic cotton with a real wool batting. I have enough raw wool to last a few years. A friend of ours calls us to pick up the wool when she has her sheep sheared each year. So far I’ve collected about 5 large bags full of wool, just waiting to be processed.

I’m not sure how to get Simmi onboard with our transition. I’ll be purchasing new merino wool blankets next month, and my hope is that she’ll see how much better it is than the acrylic blankets she’s hoarding right now. My goal is to have her (and us) outfitted for the fall and winter of 2020 with organic cotton sheets, merino wool blanket, and a goose down blanket. I’ll also be making pillows for us to sleep on with the wool we have.

I’m taking it slow with Simmi. She’s been through a lot in the last four years and only now has started to understand that we are finally home. No more moving! No more needing to worry about if I am going to get sick again, or watching me suffer losing my hair and not being able to breathe. It’s a lot for a little kid to go through. My older children went through it too.

Personal products such as toothbrushes can easily be replaced with a bamboo toothbrush with natural bristles.

There are so many personal care products we can get relatively inexpensive instead of using plastic products. We’ll get there, and my hope is that by this time next year our family will be a little more plastic-free. It’s a great goal for our lives.







A Little Update on What We’re Up To

I’ve been battling some serious allergies over the last few days.
I’ve been drugged up on Benadryl all weekend, my face blew up like a balloon, my eyes have been so puffy it looks like someone punched me, and I’ve also had a few neurological issues.

Oh, and lets not forget that my left heel split open leaving a huge gash in my foot.

Nice right? Anyway, this weekend was shot for me but everyone else got lots of stuff accomplished.

The photo to the left includes the next small area for organization.

My baking drawer is out of control, so I put my good measuring spoons out on hooks.

What’s strange is that I’m still not used to the spoons being there and I’ll go searching through the baking drawer looking for them.

All the ducks and chickens are doing well, and have bumped up the amount of eggs they’re laying.


Above are our peninsula pantry shelves. Once the shelves are filled up with colorful canned foods it will look phenomenal.

Dom did a great job putting them all together and capping the shelves with a finished trim. The lip on the trim will keep any of the jars from sliding off the side or front if someone were to brush up against them. We were going to paint them, but I like them the natural wood color.

So far as we can tell, Simone hasn’t been phased by the jars on the shelves. One of my big concerns was her trying to rearrange or take things off the shelves. She’s doing great so far.

At some point I’ll write a post about our other pantry. Right now its not utilized to its fullest potential. I want to be ready to can up the garden this year, especially with the amount of seeds we ordered.

Two Myer Lemon trees were purchased at Jericho Nursery.Ā  Oh-My-God! These little babies are so amazing. Each tree had fully ripened lemons on it and lots of blossoms that have filled our dining room with an intoxicating aroma. Just rubbing your fingers with the fruit will leave you smelling like lemons. šŸ™‚

This week if my allergies get a little better, I’ll be planting the following outside around the property:

  • cabbage
  • chives
  • garlic
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • leeks
  • onions
  • salsify
  • scallions
  • spinach
  • tarragon

Here is a list of what was just recently ordered and should arrive very soon…all the following were ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom. All are seed packets and if there is more than one, then it means I’ve ordered more than one variety (I won’t get too technical):

  • 1 purple artichoke
  • 1 cardoon
  • 3 types of beans
  • 1 scarlet runner
  • 2 beets
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 broccoli
  • 2 cabbage
  • 1 pink banana
  • 2 berries
  • 4 amaranth
  • 3 black sesame
  • 1 millet
  • 1/4 pound of hairy vetch
  • 1 winter pea
  • 2 Quinoa
  • 1 black mustard
  • 2 melons
  • 1 Jing Orange Okra
  • 2 onions
  • 2 Bhut Jolkia (ghost pepper)
  • 4 other hot peppers
  • 3 sweet peppers
  • 1 radish
  • 1 rhubarb
  • 1 roselle
  • 3 sorghum
  • 2 spinach
  • 3 French summer squash
  • 1 Swiss chard
  • 1 orange tomato
  • 1 purple tomato
  • 2 red tomato
  • 1 striped tomato
  • 1 yellow tomato
  • 1 orange glow watermelon
  • 1 white wonder
  • 2 basil
  • 3 bee balm
  • 1 once borage
  • 1 chervil
  • 1 chia
  • 2 chives
  • 2 slo bolt cilantro
  • 1 cumin
  • 3 dill
  • 2 sorrel
  • 4 Echinacea
  • 2 Fever few
  • 1 German Chamomile
  • 1 lavender
  • 3 hyssop
  • 3 Lion’s tail
  • 3 Lovage
  • 1 marjoram
  • 5 marsh mallow
  • 1 parsley
  • 1 rue
  • 1 shisho zisu
  • 1 tarragon
  • 2 tooth ache plant
  • 1 wormwood
  • 1 yarrow
  • 3 marigolds
  • 9 Nasturtium
  • 4 poppy
  • 4 lupine
  • 1 once black eyed Susan

So there you have it for the next big order. There will be another one seed order, but I haven’t decided what to plant in one other section of the garden.