Tag Archives: plastic

Well, the First Days Are the Hardest Days

23 Sep

I’m precisely one week into circus school. It’s as much fun (and pain) as I had expected. I’m already bendier than before, and I have sore muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles. The first three days or so, I was so exhausted after school that all I could do when I got home was to lie on my back and read- often followed by passing out with the book on my face at some obscenely early hour. Consequently, my appetite has tripled, and I’m turning into a hobbit- second breakfast and second supper have become routine parts of my fare, all I need to do now is to grow some hair on my feet.

My classmates are an interesting and fun bunch of people. There are 7 of us. Our ages range from 18 to 29 (yes, I’m the oldest as I had expected, though not by much), and our non-circus lives vary all the way from chemistry student to nude model. It’s a good thing we get along well so far, as it looks like we’ll be knowing each other better than we’d likely care for by the end of the year. (It’s impossible not to, when we spend 20 hours a week together.)

So far, we haven’t done anything too crazy, the first week being a time of easing into things. We have classes in dance, acrobatics, aerial circus, juggling, tumbling, conditioning, stretching, theater and choreography. Quite the difference from the week full of lab sciences I’ve been accustomed to in my college days.

In the meantime, my home life has been limited to survival: eat, read, sometimes cook, eat more, read more, then eat some more. This weekend was the first time I was able to take on any domestic ventures. I tried to make crabapple jelly, with crabapples picked at the park downtown. I ended up with crabapple syrup, which is still delicious, so I can’t complain. I have 3 jars of it canned on my shelf for the winter.

My plastic avoidance has been somewhat ignored in my attempts to just stay fed and rested. However, I’ve had time to ponder a couple of questions on the subject:

1) Music. How does one listen to music without plastic? No CD’s, no cassette tapes, definitely no mp3 player. Any alternatives to just singing? (I have a feeling the answer is “no”.)

2) Ziplock bags. How did people freeze food before those darn things came about? (Yes, people froze food before plastics were invented. Granted, it was likely in a snowbank rather than a freezer chest, but still.) I tried mason jars, but defrosting food in one of those is a pain in the rear. Besides, what are mason jar lids sealed with? Please tell me it’s not a plastic derivative!

On the other hand, I do have a few minor successes. I found, completely by chance, baking powder in a can. I’m currently testing out homemade deodorant (it currently lives in a paper cup), will let you know if it works. I have also found a few non-plastic cat toys that Lemon loves, they also happen to be free (or close enough): the chain by the bathtub that’s supposed to hold the shower curtain open (Lemon discovered this herself), paper rolls used for rolling coin, and acorns. Good stuff. Of course, the fancy cat toys she was given when she left the clinic are completely ignored. Figures.

Lastly, as promised, how to make coffee without a coffee machine– for the benefit of my generation who is largely unaware that this is possible:

Put a tablespoon or two of ground coffee in a saucepan. Add a cup of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let it sit for a minute or so, to allow for the grounds to settle to the bottom. Pour slowly into your cup, and enjoy.

Total time from beginning to end: 5 minutes (ie. same as a coffee machine or French press)

Special equipment: None whatsoever.

Taste: Just as good, if not better.

Notes: You’ll end up with a small amount of coffee grounds in your cup. They settle at the bottom, just put the cup down when you get there. Simple, really.

A Plastic Nest

8 Sep

September 8th, 2013

My boxes arrived on Friday, which was like ten years’ worth of Christmases all come together, and brought along at least two weeks’ worth of backache. My apartment happens to be on the 3rd floor of a building that has twisty windy hallways with many misplaced staircases, and of course no elevator. I won’t tell you how long it took me to carry 14 boxes up those stairs, because it didn’t take that long. However, it did make me feel a bit like the Atom Ant, crawling up and down the stairs with boxes almost bigger than my hundred-pound self. Long story short, I made it, the boxes are currently blocking out most of my hallway and probably constituting a fire hazard, and I could really use a new spine.

The process of settling in is a slow and painful one when I don’t have a vehicle. Today I finally got a second-hand kitchen table with a chair, which the gentleman who was selling was kind enough to deliver. I gave up any hopes of being able to scavenge a second bookshelf until next month when more people move in and out of the building, so I resorted to building one from milk crates and cardboard. I covered the cardboard with wrapping paper, so it actually looks better than the wooden shelf I got from the neighbors. The greatest challenge of a car-less life is still the guinea pigs: I like getting their hay and bedding from a feed store (where they cost a fraction of a fraction of the price I’d pay at a pet store), and apart from the feed stores being in the boonies by definition, I can’t exactly walk onto the bus with a bale of hay. Until I get through my Carshare application, the oinkers are getting grass and fancy bedding from the pet store. Such is life.

Trying to avoid plastic is even more difficult than trying to bring a bale of hay into an urban apartment. Part of this is plastic objects, and part of it is the packaging. For example, short of trying to use a quill, I can’t avoid plastic pens. (Pencils are great for everyday use, but don’t work well for letters and documents.) Toothbrushes are plastic, as are mop handles, clothes hangers (even the outer lining of metal hangers), the quills of hairbrushes, and almost all pet accessories. (Leather collars are available, but harnesses and leashes are almost exclusively polyester. I did find one litterbox made of recycled paper, but it looked too flimsy to last over a couple of weeks, so I’m stuck with plastic on that as well.) We’re also wearing a lot of plastic- most knitting yarn is made of polyester or a polyester-natural blend, most socks are made of polyester, and I don’t think there’s such a thing as a biodegradable swimsuit. Even my watch is plastic, thanks to my nickel allergies. As for electronics- let’s not even get into it as I type on a plastic keyboard, shall we?

Still, packaging is what really makes me pull my hair out. Every non-plastic alternative I find (eg. kitchen knife with porcelain handle, wooden cat toy, metal shower curtain rings, bamboo cutting board, etc) comes wrapped in plastic. Argh. And no matter how much I shop in bulk, from independent stores and farmers’ markets, I still can’t get away from it. Cheese and meat still come wrapped in plastic (once I did buy grass-fed beef wrapped in butcher paper, but it seems to be a rare occurrence). No matter how hard I try to avoid it, no matter what I choose to buy or eat or wear, I seem to bring plastic home with me like a parasite hitching a ride. Is it possible to go without it? I’d love to find out. Maybe someday I’ll make a lifestyle experiment out of it, and go live somewhere in the woods without any plastic for a year. Just to see if it can be done.

Anyway, that was my rant for the day. Now I’ll go back to my nesting behavior, preferably with a cup of coffee made in a saucepan- I’ll tell you about that next time.