Check out my new book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, available from Amazon.

2012 Silver winner in the Health/Medicine/Nutrition Category of the Independent Publishers Book Awards

Monday, May 5, 2008

Reporting in for duty, sir!

Okay, all you Extreme Eco Throwdown participants, how's it going? Have you been able to get started and, if so, are you able to stick to what you set out for yourself?

I have to admit, I haven't been able to do much of anything and probably won't for another week. Usually the no paper products thing wouldn't be a problem but we have to follow strict food safety guidelines which involves far too many paper towels while my husband's immune system is bottoming out and recovering for the stem cell harvesting.

I won't even get into the plastics involved in twice daily injections, care of a Hickman catheter and bags of saline in the 24-hour hydration pack. Oh well!

The local food only is a little easier, since the farmers markets are starting up, but I haven't been able to get out to them yet. Any success on your end?

41 comments:

Burbanmom said...

Success? Or regret? I picked the "easiest" challenge of giving up plastics, I'm cheating my way through it, and wondering how the hell FPF survives on a day-to-day basis.

Great challenge, Crunchy! Hope Mr. Crunchy is doing well.

kadnkadnk said...

I haven't picked up any of this challenge in its entirety. Instead, I'm taking up each part as a piece. I'm reducing my water usage but not to a carry-it-yourself level. I'm cutting down on plastics but eliminating styrofoam. I'm walking when my trip is less than 1.5 miles but driving otherwise. I'm more aware of electricity usage but not cutting it out. I'm using only cloth diapers, cloth napkins and wipes, cloth hand towels, but still using toilet paper. I'm getting all my produce and meat locally but still getting milk at the grocery. As for garbage, I already recycle and compost all I can.

So, I guess I'm participating in spirit but not up to the level of "extreme". I'm still going to watch with great interest!

organicneedle said...

Medical necessities in no way count against you! (In fact, I say, if eating baby seal flippers out of Styrofoam buckets makes him feel better, serve 'em up.) Hope your husband and family are doing well.

Like kadnkadnk I have been dabbling in all, but extreme in none. My biggest dilemma is that so many of the organic foods I buy only come in plastic. So frustrating. Either I skimp on nutrition, buy chemical laden foods, or contribute to the plastic problem. Hopefully when the CSA begins in a few weeks it will be easier.

noradawn said...

I chose to do one thing each week, and this is no plastics week around here. What I miss most is chapstick and sunscreen. We also allowed ourselves to eat things encased in plastic that have short shelf lives and wouldn't be good anymore when the week is up, like bread, tortillas, and yogurt- but I didn't buy any extras to supply this "loophole." Something that was strange was not buying any bread at the Farmer's Market, since it's in plastic! I'm going to make some of my own today, since we're out of scraps.

DC said...

Crunchy, you definitely get a medical exemption from all environmental challenges. Considering all you're going through, I wouldn't fault you if you started burning coal in your fireplace and clubbing baby seals -- okay maybe I'd be a little judgmental about the seals, but I'd eventually forgive you. My mom had leukemia and went through the same stuff Mr. C is going through. I know it's no picnic. I'm really amazed that you're able to keep blogging at this point. We're experiencing several much smaller crises, and I've had little time to even read blogs lately. My family's thoughts and prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think plastics used for necessary healthcare are just that necessary. I would not give that stuff a second thought.

lauren said...

I was planning on doing one thing each week, and this would have been local foods week. However, a nasty bug laid me up in bed all weekend, and I missed all the farmer's markets I had carefully mapped out.

I will still do a trial run this week based on items found at my grocery store (living in Berkeley it isn't that hard) and by next week I should be ready for a full throttle local foods week.

pnwmom said...

I got some things at the farmer's market. I picked up some material on what the vendors offered. Otherwise, I've simply been doing a lot of thinking about most of my purchases- what are my options? is there a better choice?

Dillon said...

I never realized how much stuff is in plastic until I tried buying without it. This challenge is much harder than I thought it would be. I think I might have to work on one a week.

Lynne Marie said...

I haven't picked up on the challenge until after my husband returns to Iraq. When you posted, I journaled all these lofty goals, but him being here and us adjusting to being a couple again threw everything out into the compost.

Beany said...

I am really focusing on reducing my plastic consumption...its not out of control, but its what is in our garbage every week.

I've been using Burt's Bees Rosemary bar shampoo on my hair and its alternatively dry or sticky and I seem to be losing alot of hair (is this some side benefit of growing older?) I'm going to try using baking soda/Apple Cider Vinegar to wash my hair per the no-poo rules and not succumb to shampoo in a plastic bottle buying.

I hope the Crunchys are doing well and getting some rest from the spa treatments. I'd pray if there was a god.

Theresa said...

The Crunchies definitely get an exemption for medical reasons! Plastics are good for some things, and medical usage is in that category. Anything that has to be done for medical sterility purposes is exempt!

My no-garbage pledge is going poorly, even with the exceptions I've allowed myself (i.e., things that can be recycled or composted don't count and toilet paper doesn't count). I have managed to divert a few things out of the garbage that would normally go in (lids from juice cans that the recycle depot won't take, the odd paper towel I still use, some bits of elastic string and a metal closure from a bag of seed potatoes). I've also changed how I buy some things - more bulk items in reusable or recyclable bags or no bags at all, or just not buying things that are overpackaged. I had started doing this, but this challenge has bumped my efforts up a notch. I didn't sign up for the water part, but I am trying to cut that down further. And I've finally set up my drying rack so I only used the dryer once this week, instead of three times. So, some steps here and there, but I still produce way too much garbage!

ANewDay said...

Doing fair. We've been checking everything we eat and we have a 90% success rate on the eating local but we were mostly there anyway.

The plastics is not going so hot. I need to rethink how we store our foods since we use a lot more plastic than I thought. I guess the upside is I'm noticing plastic use that I really would never have thought about or noticed before.

How the heck did Beth do what she is doing??

arduous said...

Crunchy, I agree with everyone else. Medical reasons are good reasons to use plastic! Any reductions I am making, I am making in your honor, so throw away with impunity, okay?

Bham Meg said...

I'm bombing on all fronts. The no-driving is a bust, I had to take relatives to the airport. I was batting 1000 on the plastic and garbage for two days, until I joined up with Sharon's Independence challenge. Plants come in plastic pots, the case of soymilk on sale for storage has plastic spouts, and I used my food saver, which is a plastic thing that seals food in ...um ...plastic. I'm allowing minimal plastic and garbage that is a result of Sharon's challenge, therefore. I'm still going to try for one week of no-electricity at some point, though. And do the best I can with my other categories, even though I'm not going to be able to go 100%. My bus pass is made of plastic, what am I gonna do? :)

stella said...

These first few days have not been successful. We planned to eat local on Thursday evening and all weekend. Thursday evening and all meals Saturday were "social" and with friends or at friends' places, so that fizzled. We did local on Friday night, though. We visited a couple of farms and loaded up on local honey, olive oil, and vinegar. Still don't know where our oats come from.

I did a whole 3-hour class without photocopies on Friday, so that was a success.

stella said...

ps. Lauren, I live in Berkeley, too. We should do some co-investigation of local foods/recipe exchange.

cindy24 said...

Water is going OK. I just received my siphon in the mail today that will allow me to get the water out of my tubs for the grass. My grass only gets watered by the sprinklers once a week when the gardners come. I have been able to water all the veges plants with the water caught in the sink before the water gets hot. My kids are onboard and argued with their grandma over the need to flush pee. On the gardening front, I found used wine barrels at Lowes ($21.99) and planted some more veges in them. Need to compost my leaves so I don't have to buy soil in bags next year. I finally found potting soil bags with a recycle number on them.

Green Bean said...

I'm doing the plastics thing and trying to reduce my driving. I had aimed for 2-3 car free days a week but that may be a pipe dream. We're having one today so that is a start. The plastic thing is next to impossible. Every time I turn around, there is some bit or scrap of plastic. I don't know how I'll succeed but I'm sure I'm paying more attention and, as a result, will undoubtedly at least cut back some.

Hope your man feels better soon.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy, hang in there. You are one of the strongest women I have ever come across. Your plight for sustainable development, in light of most extreme adversity, inspires me and helps me keep walking along that same path. You are an amazing person. Thank you for your blog. -Katia

Jill said...

I am also wondering how FPF survives! I am trying to do my best but it is very hard not to buy anything that has plastic or plastic packaging.

wasteweardaily said...

Eating locally is hard where I live. Sure you can grow things year round, but all I'd be eating is fruits and veggies and milk. I really like my beans and grains. I am eating atleast one local thing for each meal so far. My MIL has been with us almost 2 weeks and when she leaves we will be able to go back to our low water and garbage use. Sadly I have to water our garden as we have had no rain for over three weeks.
My thoughts for better health are with your family.
Cindy in FL

melanietai said...

i'm starting with my easiest one, paper. it kind of feels like cheating because i was at 99% off it already. so no more toilet paper for #2, and i even brought a glass jar when i planned on getting a take-out soup at the health food store. other than that it's a no brainer. the other ones will be MUCH more difficult for me.

eco 'burban mom said...

I was a simpleton and only signed up for the Eat / Buy Local part. It's going OK, I am using up all the non-local foodies in my fridge and freezer, so that's what's getting me by I think. My hubby did jump on the bandwagon and bought me a lovely loaf of locally baked bread. I did find a local source for eggs, dairy, cheese, bread, coffee, tea and some pantry supplies, now I just need a local supplier of mac n cheese!!

I have also tried to reduce my plastic consumption - I bought some great bar soap wrapped in corrugate and have eliminated using the produce bags at whole foods. It's still way early here in Michigan for produce and farmers markets, so once June hits, I can live a little lighter!

kelley said...

the no-plastic pledge could be better. working on the planning ahead part!

Stephanie said...

I've been doing reasonably well, but my husband's trips to the dump have more than obliterated my small steps to not use paper at home this week. I've come to the conclusion that using cloth for #2 really isn't for me, especially since the whole household isn't into it. Plus we are selling our house and I feel weird about having a wet bag full of poopy cloths. Cloths with #1 can be washed with just about anything else (can't think of anything else I wouldn't wash them with) whereas Cloths with #2 I'd only wash with other cloths, which makes for a pretty wasteful washload.
I think I will keep working on the no paper thing, except for #2, for at least another week.

Midnightsky Fibers said...

I've been doing well, despite having to drive my car!

Amy said...

I am SOOO excited! I wrote on my blog that I was going plastic-free, and no fewer than THREE of my friends are taking the plunge with me! Much better than the "you're an eco-nutso whack job" I was expecting!

And my Mooncup arrived today! Another plus!

Thank you so much for all your blogging dedication, and for sharing your journey with us. I've learned a lot from you, and hope to learn more still. I'm praying for your whole family -- I know illness is hard. *hug*

ashley said...

This is my reduce paper week. I have used TP instead of cloth a few times by accident and I did succumb to using a paper towel to clean a greasy skillet that had bacon grease in it. When you clean a greasy bacon pan it makes you wonder....why do I eat bacon? But then again a BLT is pretty tasty :)

Suzan said...

I am trying to be greener all round. We live under fairly strict water rules and due to our family size we would soon be answering about our water use if we weren't strict. I save up my water for times I am desperate for a hot shower etc. It is amazing how soon you become fast at bathing etc.

I am trying to buy things with less packaging. Oh dear that eliminates many junkier food stuff as well. The kids are adjusting. I prefer to make things from scratch anyway. I just wish I could find a decent way of dealing with lunches. Lunches soon become disgusting in our Aussie heat. So everyday there are reusable icepacks and some foods need to be wrapped. I have tried all kinds of boxes etc but still seem to use a lot of plastic film and baggies when packing lunches. Multiply it by four and it can be too much.

I am sorry there are some things I cannot do without. My dh has a long drive to work and there aren't alternatives. We are down to one car and he has to do chores on his way home to cut down on petrol etc. We are trying. I have told several people that it is not sacrifice it is voluntary simplicity.

Best wishes for a successful outcome. Medical waste is so difficult. There are just no ways around some problems.

Billie said...

I did not sign up for this as I knew there was absolutely no way we would be able to do it. I failed right away by buying a big container of laundry detergent in a plastic container. Neither of us like dry detergent.

I have certainly been thinking about my purchases and making some changes but finding it difficult to be consistent due to lack of energy/time.

Melinda said...

We just moved this past weekend (lookout Crunchy, I'm in your 'hood now!), and we've already found our local eggs, milk, bread, and produce. By the end of the week we'll be back at 90% local.

We've parked the car, and plan to hold to our vow to drive only once a week. We've been walking everywhere all weekend, and love it. Bus passes are next on the list.

Carolina said...

We're doing fair with one challenge (local food) and bombing another (no excess water).

Aside from fulfilling a special request from my son for hero sandwiches for family movie night, I haven't been to the grocery store since this challenge started. We're basically eating out the pantry and the few items we've purchased on one of our trips to the farmers market. I'm finding it difficult to get myself and the kids (1 yr old and 5 yr old) to the farmers markets on a regular basis, and it's been tricky finding a market that gives me "one-stop-shopping", i.e. where I can get eggs, meat, produce and other perishables all at once. Having to go to 5 different places to get food just is NOT gonna work for me, EVER. There's a small farmers market opening today that I am hopeful about- according to their newsletter I *should* be able to get everything I need there... but we'll see.

The water, yeah, that is not happening. I'm going to put off dealing with that until I get the local food under control.

I'm sending get well vibes to Mr. Crunchy, and hoping that you are all managing as best you can.

homebrewlibrarian said...

I went to visit friends in another town for the weekend and forgot what month it was. Oops. So I've already blown the no driving reduction out of the water by flying to get there. Then I bought a small fridge magnet that came in plastic. Not starting off on the right foot.

However, I have only driven my car once since the month began and biked or bussed for all other trips. The no plastic reduction is going to be a serious problem every time I go to make another batch of cat food because the meat comes on a foam tray wrapped in plastic and the liver comes in plastic tubs. I'm embarassed to admit that I still haven't gotten TC made up but other than junk mail, my only paper use is toilet paper. Local food only is being troublesome because the farmer's markets started up last week but produce won't be available until June. I just can't live off arugula and basil (although both are quite yummy). Water usage is about the same but that was low already as is electricity usage. While I threw out garbage this week it was the first time since the beginning of February and it was a single small bag.

I'm paying more attention now but next week I'll be flying to Wisconsin for a vacation where I'll be driving around the greater southern Wisconsin area. But I'll do my best to eat local food and keep my water usage down.

Crunchy, whatever it takes to help Mr. Crunchy is way more important than worrying about plastics. Chin up!

Kerri in AK

jennconspiracy said...

1. No plastic - I avoid plastic as much as possible, but there are some exceptions -- buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store. Also, chips are always in plastic -- so, no chips for May. No tortillas, either, since those come in plastic. That doesn't seem right. So, I'll buckle down and no buying chips or anything in plastic for the rest of May. However, I will continue to use things that are in plastic containers at home. Cat food and cat litter are in plastic bags -- can't get around that (World's Best and Feline Pine are both in plastic; bentonite clay is in cardboard - but clay is BAD).

2. No paper products - I'm not giving up toilet paper. Too late to cancel magazine subscriptions for May. Not giving up tampons (those are cotton, anyway, right?).

3. No driving - I don't drive very much these days. My goal is always to leave my car parked in front of my house and I have been finding myself feeling very territorial about that space, and get upset when someone else parks in MY spot.

I keep a car book -- I record every the date, quantity and cost of every gas purchase along with trip odometer and odometer readings. I also throw in oil change dates, brake pad and other work. I've done this for almost all my cars. I've had this car since January 2004 -- this year, I have bought gas once each month, compared to twice a month last year and about once a week the previous two years. I'm probably doing 25% less driving than last year, and easily 50% less than 3-4 years ago. Last month I had a goal to not drive or use my car for three weeks. I ended up driving once or twice.

I might drive one day a week to collect big heavy things and transport things to the boyfriend's house (5 miles away) or going into San Francisco late at night when public transportation is not feasible. The rest of the time I carpool, bus, train, run and walk. I will get on my bike more this month though - I'm getting fat, so more bike is good.

I do have to go to Sacramento next weekend, and to a wedding after that -- but the boyfriend is driving his new Fit which gets slightly better mpg than my Civic.

GOAL: Bike to the boyfriend's house if I have to bring stuff (I usually run if I can get him to take a change of clothes with him). I'll start by working from home on Fridays -- that way I'm not contributing to any transportation related eco-unfriendlyness.

4. Local food only - I currently don't buy a lot of packaged food. Mostly condiments (olive oil, coconut oil, mustard). A housesitting friend complained, "You don't have any FOOD in your house, just food INGREDIENTS." When I shop, I focus on buying local produce -- at least local to California when it comes to things like avocados and other fruit.

As a vegan, I try to buy things produced locally, but sweeteners, tofu, nuts -- those aren't always available within a 50 or 100 mile radius as local produce. Going locavore is enough of a challenge for vegans!

I can't wait til my garden comes in!

5. No garbage output - I already have a very minimal garbage output. It consists of cat poop in bio bags, and any non-recyclable plastic from cat food, litter or other acquisitions (like 20 glass and metal spice jars which all had plastic shaker inserts that I had to toss).

6. No excessive water usage - having grown up in Napa County during a very bad (like 10 years bad) drought, I'm already a very conscious water user. I will go back to filling a pot of hot water for washing dishes instead of washing them under running water (lazy!). I'm a pretty short showerer -- and I swim 3x/week so it's hard to give up showering at the pool or manage that kind of water.

I could easily carry two 5-gallon buckets of water 1 mile. A mile is a very short distance. I've carried four bags of groceries weighing 40 pounds back to the office from Whole Foods before. It's the advantage of my size, I suppose.

7. No electricity - again, with the drought and the fuel shortage in the late 70s, I was strongly imprinted with "shut off the light." I lived in a house for many of my formative years that had no electricity -- we used a generator and we used battery powered and kerosene lamps. I am very conscious of electricity consumption. My job depends on my access to the internet, so I'm not going to give up electricity for the computer. I do shut it off during the day, and shut off the power strips when I am not home. When I am not heating my apartment, my electric bill is $25/month (I wish my landlord would install legal heat!). I'd say that's pretty good.

GOAL: I'll pull out my solar powered camp lantern and use it at night to light my reading and general movements at night, along with candles. I will continue to blow dry my hair at the pool and at home because if I don't, I end up with ear infections (it's mostly a way to get water out of my ears after swimming).

It's tough to know what to do in the spaces where I'm already fairly minimal in my consumption.

tk said...

God, no kidding on the plastics involved in the medical stuff. I wrote about that on my blog yesterday. It's hard to even imagine all these pieces of plastic I'm using to keep myself alive these days. Offset, offset offset is all I can say.

lae21 said...

I've been working on eating local, but the truth is, it just isn't going to be possible for me. Even most of the local products use ingredients from other states, and I have yet to find a local protein source. I've made a map of different zones to mark the "levels of local". A modified 100 mile radius (since half my area would be at sea) is great, Southern Oregon and Central California is good, Western states are ok, rest of the US is acceptable. I am still eating bananas though, since I have a smoothie almost every day, and I find if I don't eat bananas often I get horrible cramps.

I agree with other commenters; I think you are exempt when it comes to medical things. I hope you and your family hang in there and that Mr. Crunchy is doing well.

Empress Juju said...

If everyone only used these things when it was medically necessary, the world would be a better cleaner place in like half an hour...

The Teenager & I are working on paper, and finding areas where we could improve. I don't use much printer paper, but what I use is almost exclusively for my own reference, so I've been bringing home flyers & handouts from work to print my grocery list & Google maps on.

Just switched another monthly bill to "paperless billing," yay, me!

And we've run out of paper towels, and plan to leave it that way.

Progress, not perfection...

Walking Green said...

I have been trying, but I am also trying to end my semester and so I am having to watch a ton of required videos for class as well as study late in the night.

Doing well on eating local, trying to keep plastics to a minimum and holy cow! how does FPF do it?

The area we live in is not walking friendly except to go to friends houses, so we do walk there...however, I am keeping my driving to a minimum--only if necessary.

Hope Mr. Crunchy is faring well, I can only surmise that things are difficult at best, but it's great to see you still posting and keeping upbeat. It's inspiring.

HomeandHearth said...

I actually did a blog post about the challenge for todays TT. We're doing best with the no plastic challenge, I think!

Theresa said...

Crunchy, may I switch from the no garbage portion of the challenge to the limited water use portion for the last half of this month? It would work well in combination with Green Bean's Bookworm challenge, for which I will be reading "Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water" starting tomorrow and thought these two things would go well together. I am also having a heck of a time with the no garbage throwdown.

LinkWithin