Saturday, October 30, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 16

The past 2 weeks have been an amazing whirlwind.  My project that was selected as a finalist for the Brita FilterForGood Film Project received more support than I could've ever dreamed up.  Who would've guessed when I started doing these 20 minute clean-ups and counting cigarette butts that it would turn into this??  Ok... I know one person who did.  For anyone who doesn't know the story (I've told it more times than I remember)... when I first started counting the cigarette butts my friend Tracy had text me with a message telling me that I needed to make a movie.... AND... go to Sundance. (hahaha... I was rolling...  I'm not laughing anymore.)  I've been quick to call her my fortune teller.  What she did (like so many others) was help facilitate this... opened my eyes to follow the signs.  How it happened was simple...Tracy wanted SO bad to go to Jack Johnson that she asked me to "like" Brita FilterForGood on Facebook to give her better odds of winning tickets ... so... I did. (she didn't win JJ tickets.)  BUT... what happened... is a couple of weeks after she made her comment to me about making a movie... I went on Facebook and as I was scrolling, I did a double take... obviously... at this point you know what I saw. :)

Yesterday, as the votes were coming in for my project, my kids and I went to Wrightsville Beach... it seemed only fitting that we go back to where we started on Day #1:

Access 43... ahh... the place of all of our family pictures.  Families, fishermen/women, surfers, and lovers spend their time at Access 43.  It is so beautiful there... dunes... grasses... birds... it's so beautiful it's breathtaking (ok... I admit... the beach always does that to me... I LOVE the beach). 

Before starting this project of picking up cigarette butts, I was (and still am) an avid litter picker-upper.  I learned about the problems of litter (including cigarette filters) from my friend Jennifer (she's a superhero!!).  It was Jennifer who told me about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and introduced me to my (now) friend Bonnie... which inspired me to ALWAYS pick up litter on my local beaches.

While I clean up litter on the land... Bonnie goes out to our oceans and helps sample and study plastics in our oceans.  She's been to the North Atlantic Gyre, sailed with the Algalita Foundation to the North Pacific Gyre (aka Great Pacific Garbage Patch) and NOW Bonnie is going to be traveling on the Sea Dragon with 5 Gyres, and Pangaea explorations from Rio to Cape Town sailing across the South Atlantic Gyre where she and a team of more AMAZING people will be sampling the ocean for quantities of plastic.

Why should we care? 

As Bonnie says, "Besides the fact that millions of marine life die each year from our floating plastic, I have witnessed prestigious island beaches where fragments of plastic, beaten down by the ocean, wash in as children swim.  If we don’t stop plastic trash from entering our oceans, all of our beaches will share the same fate.  Of all the environmental issues our oceans are facing, this one is the easiest one to fix and it starts with research in order to promote awareness and inspire change."

We need the research to support change.  They need YOUR support  for the research.

Bonnie is currently fundraising for this research mission... that leaves next weekend!!  She needs OUR help!!  Bonnie has been such an inspiration for me... she's not a scientist... she's just a "normal" person who read something and became inspired to get involved.  Of course, we've donated to Bonnie... SO I'm asking here....if you can help Bonnie... don't hesitate... whether you can give $10... $20... $50... every bit helps.  Check out her cause on Facebook or visit her website to donate!

Ok... back to the butts...

Did you know that cigarette butts are "toxic at rather low concentrations"??


 YUP...  based on a study by San Diego State University they found that "even one butt in a liter of water can kill the fish in a period of 96 hours."  (NASTY!)  They don't just look bad in the environment... they're BAD for the environment!! (Shocker)

 OK... so I don't want to forget to share the *romantic* side of Access 43 ;) Signs of "love" were everywhere... socks, underwear, shirts, panties... and lots of things that I refuse to touch!  Thanks to my kids finding a long metal pole... I didn't.  Here's a "rated PG" picture:

I appreciate people being safe... but geez... if you wrap it.... make sure you trash it!! (I can't believe I wrote that and am not going to delete it! haha!)

20 minutes on October 29, 2010

Cigarette Butts: 265

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 16 days:


Monday, October 25, 2010

Smooth (and Plastic-free) Shave

A few years ago, my husband and his father went to Mexico for a father son camping trip to see the California gray whales migration.  Knowing there would be no running water... it was important for me to find personal care products that wouldn't disrupt (ok... pollute) the water they'd be bathing in.  I went to my local cooperative market (you guessed it... Tidal Creek) and after a brief explanation of what I needed (shampoo, shaving, non-liquid and environmentally kind) they promptly handed me a bar of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. 

Without using it once before his trip, he took the soap to Mexico and when he returned he no longer wanted to use his over-priced shave cream from Art of Shaving.  (YAY!!)  Of course, I had been on a mission to find a better shave cream for myself... one with no parabens and no plastic... so when I saw how well Dr. Bronner's lathered I quickly made the switch and have never for one second thought about switching back to shave gels or creams.

Things I like about Dr. Bronners Magic Bar Soaps:

1. No plastic.  Even the inks that are used on the paper packaging are soy based inks! (rad, I know.)
2. No funky ingredients.  Check out the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic's Database.
3. Commitment to environment.  Palm oil is a big issue... and Dr. Bronner's signed this pledge.
4. Fair Trade.  Part of the environment is the people that we share it with... read about Fair Trade here.

Oh... just wait... there's more!!! 

Several weeks ago, the mirror that holds our razors fell AND my husband's "Gillette" razor broke in half.  He asked me to get him a new razor... hmmm... everything happens for a reason.  I told him to "let me do some research."  I knew exactly where to look.  Fake Plastic Fish, of course!!  (Seriously, if you're looking to rid your life of a plastic product... Fake Plastic Fish is the place to go.)  All I did was search "razor" and up popped the information I needed.  I convinced my husband to give a "safety razor" a try and ordered a plastic free razor!!!  

We were both super stoked when the razor came in the mail... and the next morning my husband used it.... well... he tried to use it.  He came out of the bathroom... face all cut up... and said, "send it back.  I'm not using it."  Determined to rid our home of another plastic-product... I wasn't going to give up. When he went to work, I looked up how to use a safety razor... turns out... safety razors are a lot different than their disposable 2, 3, 6, 100 blade counterparts. Ooooopppssss... should've given my husband directions before he put a blade to his face!!  Lesson learned ;)  With encouragement... ok pressure... from me... he gave the safety razor another try.

And now after a month of using the safety razor....he LOVES having a plastic-free razor!!  AND... so do I.  (no cut up legs for me though... after seeing his face that first day... let's just say that I'm easy on the legs ;) )  

Curious about what I've done with my plastic (disposable head) razor??... We kept it and it's been allocated for travel.  :D

Saturday, October 23, 2010

(Please) Make A Difference Day

Today, October 23, is National Make a Difference Day.  

Now's the time to make a difference...making a difference is easy... get inspired by watching this video... please (and thank you) ;)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 15

On October 19, a local surfer threw out a challenge on WBLiveSurf that if my Brita FilterForGood Film Project got 1000 votes by Friday morning he would, " a wave while doing a headstand blind folded, feet tied together on a foam board..."  Well... my project hit the 1000 vote mark (Thursday evening!!)... soooo... we headed out to Wrightsville Beach today to see Kevin of Indo Jax Surf and Kiteboarding School and Ocean Cure throw down!!!

Kevin has been an amazing supporter of my project from the moment I got the congratulatory email!  AND... because of his support....I'm feeling like I should rewind a bit. ;)  You see this is all coming somewhat full circle.  And so the story goes.....
Back in February, I visited my friend in Los Angeles and we went to Cord Progression... a concert to benefit Life Rolls On and Spinal Cord Injury Awareness.  I left the concert feeling inspired.  I got home picked up Wrightsville Beach Magazine....and there in front of me was the information for Life Rolls On at WB.  I immediately called the local contact (yep... that was Kevin)... then emailed him my information to add me to the volunteer list.  Fast forward to August, after having visited my friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean (more inspiration)... I "volunteered" at the LRO event held by Ocean Cure.... it was at that LRO event that I ran into the mayor of Wrightsville Beach--David Cignotti-- and had my "epiphany" about what "I" could do to help with the cigarette butt litter problem on Wrightsville Beach. 

SO... today when I saw David Cignotti walk up at Access 10 to see Kevin throw down... well... by this point I'm sure you get where I'm going... FULL circle ;)  Here's my point in sharing all of this... had I not  went to the LRO concert... I would've never emailed Kevin... I would've never volunteered for LRO... then I would've never emailed him my project (because his email wouldn't have been auto-added to my address book)......
Ripple effects... they happen all around us.  Everything we do makes a difference.  

I tell my friend Sara-- who I connected to because of The Daily Ocean--all the time that the best thing about having started all of this-- 20 minute collections, counting and tallying cigarette butts-- is connecting with a community of people who care about the same things.

"Here's to the crazy ones.  The misfits.  The rebels.  The trouble makers.  The round heads in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently.  They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.  You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or verify them.  But the only thing you can't do is ignore them.  Because they change things.  They push the human race forward.  And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.  Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." (love that!!!... thanks Ginger!!)-Jack Kerouac

Check out Kevin surf a wave while blindfolded, feet tied and in a headstand in very uncooperative surf conditions.... it was quick but SO freakin' cool!!  (Special thanks to my new pal Surf for posting on wblivesurf and getting the conversation started that led to this...)

I am so grateful for everyone-- family, friends, and my community-- for supporting my Brita FilterForGood Film Project-- Our Daily Ocean: A Story of Butts-- 100% and beyond!!!  It's your support that is going to get my project made into a short film!!  YAY!!!! {{HUGS}}

20 minutes on October 22, 2010
Litter picked up by weight: 6.7 oz
Cigarette Butts: 160

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 15 days:


Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Daily Ocean Community: Missy

Yesterday, I received this (gift):

"This is for you Danielle. This morning the kids and I woke up and went to WB and picked up litter for 20 minutes since we know Danielle is out of town and will not be back until this week sometime, we wanted to show her we support her more than just voting on her project but to do 20 minutes of cleanup since she is away!!

                           Keep it BEAUTIFUL!!!
                                                                  yup even a chair!

298 BUTTS, 30 straws, 1 bottle cap, fishing line, candy wrapper, and zip lock bag :~("

**Missy and her kids went to one of our most frequented spots... Oceanic.  Thanks Missy for ALL of your support!! 
I've added the butt count to the "Community Butt Count" on the sidebar.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coast to Coast for

When I learned of's global work party on 10-10-10, I knew that I just had to get involved.  Being on vacation with my Mom and Aunts, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get them involved in their first beach clean-up... my Aunts live in Iowa, and my Mom lives in Missouri.

While we went to Oceanside, husband and three children made it back to Access 36-- our adopted access.  Of course, they played... boogie boarded... and dug in the sand.  BUT... they also took time to do a short clean-up.  They focused primarily around the pier of Oceanic Restaurant.

As we've found in our 20 minute clean-ups (and when we participated in the International Coastal Clean-up), there is unfortunately A LOT of restaurant litter AND an employee break area (the table and chairs under the pier is one of two) that is also used by smokers.

My husband and kids had a great time at the beach.  They ended up seeing Kevin Millard and his family.  Kevin has been taking our family pictures since my oldest son was one year old!!  My husband told Kevin why they were cleaning up litter for 10-10-10, and Kevin--AWESOME that he is-- joined in with  his family.  Oh, but it doesn't end there!  My husband also started talking to some people (who happened to be smoking)... AND their young son started helping pick up litter.  Working together they picked up all of this litter off of Wrightsville Beach.

And a pile of 317 cigarette butts...
While my husband and kids were at Wrightsville Beach, I-- along with my Mom and three Aunts-- made it to Oceanside, CA!!  Not being from California, I'm not exactly up to date on California politics.  BUT, it didn't mean that I couldn't help.  I made a sign that read "NO on 23" and my family and I sported bumper stickers on our backs while we did the clean-up.  (Shoot... I even kept the sticker on my back while I traveled through San Diego and Charlotte airports!!)  Check out my Aunt Kay making a poster for the beach clean-up and the back of my Aunt Kathie's shirt!!

We really had a great time participating in's global work party in Oceanside.  We met some really AWESOME people, had FUN  and helped clean-up the beach.

These two young children were inspired to help pick up litter!  They ran to this fellow volunteer and me several times carrying handfuls of litter!  Kids ROCK!!

Overall, the litter at Oceanside is similar to the litter that we find at Wrightsville Beach.  LOTS of plastics.  Have you ever seen Chris Jordan's photography?  His photos at Midway Island are a disturbing account of our plastic consumption and irresponsible disposal.  Could you ever fathom that an albatross could swallow a lighter??  They do.

In Oceanside (and I'm assuming most... if not all... of California) there are burn pits right on the beach.  Something that we definitely don't have here in NC on Wrightsville Beach.  Around the burn pits is where we found a good majority of litter.  And just like restaurant litter that we find near Oceanic at WB, there was an apparent theme around the burn pits.  Picnic, cookout, barbecue... wherever you're from... whatever you call it... the litter left behind is always the same. 

My personal (no brainer) tip for going disposable-free during picnics, bbq's, and/or cookouts:  Bring your own reusable utensils, cups, plates... throw them in a bag (or empty cooler) when your done and pop them in the dishwasher when you get home.  ;)

Another popular theme... butts and straws.  Speaking of butts... Have you voted for my project "Our Daily Ocean:  A Story of Butts" in the Brita FilterForGood Film Project competition?  Help me get my project made into a short film by voting daily until October 29!! ;) 

If you smoke please be a responsible smoker and dispose of the filter properly.  No disposal receptacle near-by?  Put it out and put it in your pocket.  (My friend's husband uses that method as well as many responsible smokers that I've met at the beach during our 20 minute clean-ups).  NOW...  I hope by now you know how I feel about straws... ;)  "No thank you" are 3 easy words and I use them often.

10-10-10 was an awesome day. I got my Mom and three of my aunts involved in a beach clean-up... AND... they had FUN and were INSPIRED!!  YAY!!  Thanks to Dominique for organizing the O-Side event!!!
Ty, Dominique, my Mom, me, my Aunt Karon, Aunt Kathie, Aunt Kay... there were some more volunteers not pictured.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 14

After discovering that my project idea had been selected as a finalist in the Brita FilterForGood Film Project, I received a message from a local news station!!  AWESOME news!  They wanted to meet me at Wrightsville Beach for a 20 minute beach clean-up to do a story on my project!!  (Yes, the happy dances are still going strong!!)  Today at lunch, we went to Access 16 to meet Max from WECT!!

I decided that we should meet Max at Access 16 because I've only been there once and thanks to Johnny Mercer's Pier... it's one of the busiest spots on the beach.  Last time we visited Access 16, we headed right away from the pier... today we made a left and spent the majority of our time collecting litter from under the pier.

Cigarette butt put out and left in the sand right next to a pylon.
As usual, we found loads of cigarette butts and other various plastics.  Have YOU made the commitment to say "No Thank You" to straws??  Straws are one of the top 10 littered items worldwide... I find them all too often... from our hands to the sea...

By not accepting straws, other people will notice and then a ripple effect will start.... trust me... I've seen it happen....High 5 to my Mom and Aunts who have started to order their drinks with NO straws!!

SO... back to cigarette butts.  Straws may be one of the top 10 littered items worldwide... BUT cigarette butts take the cake with the #1 spot (this is not a good thing).  As Beth Terry commented on my project wall,

 "People who would never toss a plastic bottle on the ground often have no problem tossing a cigarette butt because they have no idea what it's made of." 

 It's true... people just aren't aware that cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate (a type of plastic!!)... and they certainly aren't aware of this fact that I grabbed from The Bait Tank.

Cigarette butt litter is a problem in my community... they're a problem in your community... well... they're a problem everywhere!  Help me get my project made into a short film!  Vote every day until October 29!!  Our Daily Ocean: A Story of Butts  Please VOTE, SHARE and REMIND!!

20 minutes on October 12, 2010
Litter picked up by weight:  1 lb 3oz
Cigarette Butts:  451

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 14 days:
(In case you're wondering that calculates to us picking up almost 26 cigarette butts PER MINUTE!!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 13

It's been awhile since I've done a 20 minute beach clean-up at Wrightsville Beach.  BUT... I have good news!!  While I was in California, my husband and three children decided to take it upon themselves to get over to Wrightsville Beach for a 20 minute beach clean-up.  YAY!!!  After lunch and ice cream (true I'm a bit jealous I missed out on ice cream) they cleaned up Access 29!!

The day before my family went out to Wrightsville Beach to pick up litter, I spent the day with my friend Sara of The Daily Ocean.  We visited some amazing fifth grader girls known as the "Peace Troop".  We watched the film "Bag It"!! If you haven't seen it yet... YOU NEED to... seriously, go rent it now!!

And speaking of films... today I opened one of the best emails EVER!!  Awhile ago, I entered my cigarette butt litter project in the Brita FilterForGood Film Project.  AND turns out that they like my project!!  I guess why wouldn't they... cigarette butts are NASTY!!!!  Here's the email I received... click the link and PLEASE VOTE for my project "Our Daily Ocean:  A Story of Butts"...

"CONGRATULATIONS!  You have been selected as a finalist in the FilterForGood Film Project.  We received more than 150 submissions, and YOURS was selected by alumni filmmakers of the Sundance Film Festival as one of the Top 15.  We really appreciate your entry and are excited that you’ve taken a step towards inspiring others to make a difference.
Now it’s time to vote!  The Facebook community will vote to determine the three winners who will win a VIP trip to the Sundance Film Festival and see the short film they inspired air on TV, so we encourage you to spread the word within your local community and social networks. 
Vote once per day from today to Friday, October 29 by visiting the Film Project tab on the Brita FilterForGood page or click here."

After watching "Bag It", Sara and I headed over to Ocean Park, Santa Monica to do a 20 minute clean-up with Mark Armen of The Bait Tank.  Sara has been telling me that I needed to meet Mark from the moment I started this project.  He's doing big things in California... capturing cigarette butts and saving fish with his Bait Tanks!!  In fact, his Bait Tanks are helping to reduce cigarette butt litter by 60% in the locations that they are currently installed!!!  Sounds like something we need here on our local beaches.  As Sara said so many months ago, "I'm on it!!!"

20 minutes on October 8, 2010
Litter picked up by weight: ??  (my husband didn't weigh them... it's cool.  He took the time to go out and I'm so happy he did!!)

Cigarette Butts: 403

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 13 days:


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coast to Coast...

It's been over a week since I've made it out to Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute beach clean-up.  Without making excuses... sometimes things get in the way.  Last week, it was 22 inches of rain and then a weekend camping trip.  I made it over to the beach tonight after my son's karate, only to realize that the sun is setting so much earlier than it used to.... yes... I attempted to pick up cigarette butts...but really couldn't see much.  Unfortunately, it will be another week before I make it out to Wrightsville Beach.  Because...

Tomorrow, I leave for California!!  Going to see Jack Johnson (again!) for my Aunt's 40th birthday and visit my friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean blog.  Sara and I are going to do some awesome stuff while I'm visiting her... including a 20 minute beach clean-up (such a surprise, I know ;) )  I look forward to sharing what I find (and don't find) on her Santa Monica beach.

Also, on 10-10-10.... is hosting a GLOBAL WORK PARTY!!!

People all over the world-- 187 countries are participating and 6,353 events are scheduled-- will be getting together to do something to will help deal with global warming.  Have you heard??  President Obama has committed to installing solar panels on the White House living quarters by Spring 2011.  YAY!!

Since I'll still be in California for the Global Work Party... visiting my Aunt (and family) in San Diego... I decided to look up an event near where I'll be.  SO..... on 10-10-10, I-- along with my Mom and Aunt(s)-- will be joining the GLOBAL WORK PARTY in Oceanside, CA for a beach clean-up.  I figure a beach clean-up is right up my alley and I can count some cigarette butts while I'm at it ;)

If you'd like to get involved in the Global Work Party... (and you know you do!!)... find an event near you here and sign up!!

We Make It: Graham Crackers

A few weeks before we started our plastic-free food week commitment, my daughter picked up a "Kids Cookie" cookbook at the library.  She has been really into wanting to pick out recipes and make something of her own from a cookbook.... which I think is pretty awesome.  As we flipped through, the cookbook she was holding, I said, "Turn that back a page."  To my surprise was a recipe for honey graham crackers.  Originally, I thought that it would be something fun for us to do... but as the plastic-free food week approached I remembered that recipe and decided that I had to give it a try.

AND... making graham crackers is one of the EASIEST things I have ever made.  The dough came together beautifully... much like making roll-out cookies (like Christmas/Holiday cookies).

Honey Graham Cracker Recipe

2 c. whole-wheat flour                         3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar (I make my own)
1c. all-purpose flour                             1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp baking powder                             1/3 c honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon                         1tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda                               7-8 TBSP milk (I used homemade almond milk)
1/4 tsp salt                                             Extra flour for rolling out the dough

Before you start making the dough, adjust 2 oven racks to the center of your oven.  And preheat the oven to 350º F.

Mix the first 6 ingredients (flours through salt) in a medium mixing bowl.

Then put the next 4 ingredients (brown sugar through honey) into a large mixing bowl.  (I used my stand mixer)  Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed until well blended and fluffy.

Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat on low speed until blended.  Add 2 TBSP of the milk.  Continue alternating quarter amounts of flour with 2 TBSP of milk.  After the last addition of flour, only add 1 TBSP of milk.  If the dough seems dry, then add the remaining tablespoon of milk.  (Also, if you're using a handheld mixer and the dough is too stiff to beat... just knead the dough by hand in the bowl until smooth.)

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll into balls.  Cover dough with a dish towel and set aside.

Rolling out the dough:  Sprinkle a light coating of flour over a flat work surface and rolling pin (if you don't have a rolling pin, a glass works fine).  Roll out the dough into a 15x5 inch rectangle.  Take care not to press hard when you roll out the dough as it will stick... AND... while you're rolling out the dough check to make sure it's not sticking adding flour when necessary.

Once you have the dough rolled out, you can use a knife and trim the edges to make the graham crackers "perfect"... I, personally, prefer the things that I make to not look like they came from a I left the imperfect edges.  Using a knife cut the rectangle into 6 smaller rectangles.

Carefully slip a spatula under each small rectangle and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.  With a knife, mark a line in the dough across the center of each graham cracker (DO NOT cut through).  Then, use the tines of a fork to poke a pattern of holes into each square.  (Do this and the previous directions with the remaining dough).

Bake at 350º until the crackers are beginning to brown around the edges.... about 13-15 minutes.

Once done baking, remove the graham crackers from the oven and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. 

Yes, I'm still excited that I made graham crackers!!!  
Plastic-free and SO yummy!!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plastic-free Food: Days 6 & 7

When I originally planned to do our plastic-free food week... I didn't factor in that we would be taking a 6 and a half hour road trip to Scottsville, VA to go camping.  BUT, once I realized those factors... the challenge took on a new shape.  Most often when people go camping (or on road trips) all rules are thrown out the window.  Don't buy bottled water?  Most campers (and road trippers) do.  Don't use disposable plates, utensils, cups?  Most campers do.  AND... when it comes to food... it's certainly not plastic-free.

First thing was first.  Snacks.  When my husband and I went to see Jason Mraz in Greenville, SC... I didn't plan ahead.  Part of plastic-free food week is planning.... so on Thursday, my kids and I hit up the bulk foods sections at: Tidal Creek and Fresh Market.

All containers are mine from previous purchases.... why recycle when we can reuse?!  Front row:  Yogurt covered raisins, carob almonds, dried cinnamon apples.  2nd row: Nut snack mix, yogurt pretzels, corn nuts, gummies.  Back row:  Sesame sticks, pumpkin granola, pistachios, bananas, mustard pretzels

While at Fresh Market, the bakery lady asked my kids if they wanted a cookie.  I looked at the little plastic sheets they use to grab the cookies and explained to her about our plastic-free food week.  I told her I appreciated it, but we just couldn't.  She said, "Hold on.  I have an idea."  She went to the back and returned with a pair of tongs!!  My kids were super happy and I was so grateful for that lady to go out of her way for us!!  YAY!!!'

That evening I made and prepared a slew of things for our camping trip.  I filled 12 glass juice bottles with water (no bottled water for us!  Not even a 2 gallon jug!) and made graham crackers (intended for s'mores) and a loaf of bread.
I promise I'll post the recipe!!

As usual, we were prepared for our road trip with 8 reusable water bottles... filled and ready to go.  Our road trip was long and uneventful.  I kept staring out the window looking at our littered roadways.  I wonder why people still litter??  There have been litter education programs for over (at least) 50 years, but people are still littering... I said out loud, "If education isn't working... and by the looks of it... it isn't... I wonder why these products (styrofoam, plastic bags, single use products, straws, etc, etc, etc) are still being made??  Something has to change."  For me... that's what a good portion of this plastic-free food week is about.  Making a change.  Voting with my $$.... choosing foods and products that won't be on this planet longer than me or my children... OR end up on the side of the road... because even if I don't litter... it doesn't mean that a piece of trash isn't going to fall out of a trash truck or blow in the wind from a landfill... plastic blows.

On our drive, we stopped at Subway for lunch.  Normally, we get chips with our meal and sometimes drinks.  We skipped the chips (they're in plastic bags), said no thank you to our sandwiches being put in a plastic bag and used our own water bottles in lieu of getting a drink from the soda fountain.

After over 6 hours of driving we arrived here:

Here's what we ate for our meals:

Day 1 Breakfast:  Dunkin Donuts and bananas with Chocolate Milk  (don't cringe... doughnuts are my kids special treat when we go camping ;)  In the future, I'd like to make our own)  I had a hot cup of green tea with ginger instead of chocolate milk

Day 2 Breakfast:  Pancakes, chocolate milk and bananas
(true making the pancakes does produce the plastic... from the lid of the buttermilk... I plan to work on this.)

Lunch:  Peanut Butter and Jelly with cut up carrots and fresh oranges. (and our bulk snacks)

I used the bread I made for the PB&J  and used fresh ground peanut butter (put in my own container), Bonne Maman Strawberry Jam (comes in glass with no plastic over the lid... I usually use my own... but we're all out!!!), carrots and oranges were bought loose.

Dinner 2 nights:  Vegetarian Chili with Avocado and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

This photo was taken on night 2 of chili and we had leftover cheese from the sandwiches... so why not?!

Of course, the chili was plastic-free... that was easy.  (I'll post that recipe soon... ok it may be awhile... I've got a lot going on!!) The grilled cheese sandwiches were made my homemade bread and with local Hoop cheese (it's like a mild cheddar) that I got from Tidal Creek wrapped in paper.

Smores:  SO... I said I made graham crackers intended for S'mores.  We bought some Green & Black's organic dark chocolate for the purpose of ooey gooey marshmallows melting the chocolate onto our homemade graham crackers. Thing is... I didn't buy marshmallows.  They come in a plastic bag.  I thought that I would make marshmallows instead... but kept running into plastic.  I kept going back and forth... do I just buy marshmallows??  And ended up deciding that I just couldn't.  I figured that someone would have marshmallows for my kids to score at least one smores... but they were so into doing this challenge that they didn't even ask.  

I'm so proud of my kids as they brought so many different things to me to ask if they could have it.

As we were packing up on Sunday morning, I watched as a tractor went around picking up everyone's trash and putting it in a (roll-off sized) dumpster.  I looked around and realized that besides some compostable materials....we didn't have any trash.  We had a cooler full of beer bottles to be recycled... but no trash to go to the landfill.  AND... that felt amazing.

 On our way home, my husband and I talked about our plastic-free food week.  It's been such a fulfilling experience.... rethinking our food choices... teaching our kids about the problems of plastics (and seeing them understand)... and seeing what we were able to accomplish... In one week, the only plastic waste we-- a family of FIVE-- created was from 4 glass milk jugs.  And it all fits in the palm of my hand:
Once again I sent in my tally of plastics to Fake Plastic Fish: Show Us Your Plastic Challenge... I'll post that as soon as it is up :)
  As I talked to my husband, I had this feeling of not knowing what we're supposed to do now that our challenge week is over.  So I asked my husband, "What do we do now??  Do we go back to buying foods in plastic??"  AND my husband said, "I thought that this was a trial run... something that we would try and see if we could do it.  YOU did it... we proved we could live without those foods in plastic.  Why would we go back??"

I think he's right... that's why I had such a hard time thinking about the "what now".   The "what now" will be that we always strive to purchase no foods in plastic... rework recipes as needed to make them plastic-free AND share our adventures of being a family of five living in a plastic-free food world :D

Moments after I posted... I read this:

"Plastic pollution is the visible symbol of our global crisis of over-consumption. Let's pledge to shift our societies away from the disposable habits that poison our oceans and land, eliminate our consumption of throwaway plastics, and begin embracing a culture of sustainability. 

Our health, our children, and the survival of future generations depend on us." 
~ marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols