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We have a strong local recycling program, with nearly 2,000 lbs of plastic sent to a recycling center in Oregon each week. But the amount of plastic that isn’t recycled or recyclable is MUCH greater than that - with an estimated 110 pounds of plastic thrown out by every single person in America each year. We need real solutions to the plastic problem, and recycling just isn't enough. SOOOO




CAC is hoping you will join us during the next 6 months to work towards finding and transitioning to plastic-free alternatives in your own home or business. Shifting away from the culture of plastics is a strong personal step and, collectively, can have an even greater impact on how our valley leans into a healthier and cleaner future.


CAC will be gearing us all up for #Plastic Free July by sending you an email for the next 8 weeks, asking you to take on one plastics reduction action that week. If each of our 200+ members takes on each weekly challenge, we can begin to stem the tide of plastics that is overtaking our lives and threatens the health, environment, and climate for our valley and planet.




Take the pledge and revisit it with each shopping list and shopping trip. Print it out and put it on your refrigerator or with your shopping bags or as the screen saver on your phone.


I pledge to pause before a purchase to consider its plastic packaging or design and search for an alternative when needed/possible. 




REUSABLES! (Not just for superstars)


The Challenge - Identify one item that you just haven’t taken the time to switch out to a reusable option.  This week, make that shift!



Helping to slow climate change is both a matter of small daily decisions and a huge systemic global change.  Both elements are necessary - but this week’s challenge is on the easier, personal side.


Reusables are one of the Goldilocks in the whole 3 R’s kind of solution.   

Shifting to reusables is not too hard or too expensive.  It’s just right. And, if we do it collectively, it can make a huge difference in what our stores buy from their distributors and up the line to production.


So; the challenge! after you identify one plastic item in your home that you know can be eliminated, figure out what and how you can transition away from plastic.


Look in your bathroom, your kitchen, your car, your shopping cart, the toy chest, or your trash/recycling bins and then set up a new system to put a reusable in its place. From remembering your reusable shopping and produce bags to finding alternatives to the convenience products you buy most often.  Look for their replacement in bulk, paper, glass or metals. Every single shift you make and keep is an important step to making your home more sustainable and resilient to climate changes.


Tip; if you already have reusable totes, don’t buy new ones! Figure out how to make taking your bags to the store as effortless as remembering your credit card.  If you already have a shelf full of reusable bottles, sort them out and use your favorite (and maybe donate the rest?).  And use up the shampoo in all those bottles before shifting to a shampoo bar.   Don’t buy new unless you have to. Reuse!



The transition to no plastics in this shower took at least 1 year as there were so many products hanging around in their plastic bottles, littering the shower.  It took a while to use them up and then try out some great new no-plastic replacements.


The Challenge – Begin the process of replacing all the plastic in your bathroom by not falling for another new product in plastic and replacing your current, plastic-heavy products with some better sustainable products and packaging. (Always use up what you have already purchased or donate it to The Advocates.  You can donate if your containers are mostly full and you want to make the shift more quickly.)

To help get you started, here are some ideas for replacing those commonly used single-use plastic items in bathrooms with eco-friendly alternatives.

Bar soap

Bar soap is a great alternative to liquid soaps that come in disposable plastic dispensers. Bar soap can also be used to replace body wash, shampoos, conditioners and shaving creams. If you just can’t live without liquid hand soap, there are refillable pumps that can be refilled from bulk or non-plastic containers.

Shampoo and Conditioner bars

There are good shampoo and conditioner bars which are a great way to avoid shampoo liquids in disposable plastic. Or, if you travel to Boise, Root Zero in Garden City offers shampoos in bulk so you can refill your own bottle.  

Shower Curtains

Instead of getting plastic shower curtains or plastic liners that contribute to your plastic problems, you can replace them with a more sustainable options like hemp, bamboo, or cotton shower curtains to be thrown into your washing machine instead of the landfill. 


Plastic disposable razors can only be used so many times before they add to our mountains of plastic waste. When you switch to a bamboo or metal razor, you only replace the blades (preferably with no plastic involved) when needed vs the entire plastic body. 

Dental Hygiene

In the US, over a billion toothbrushes are thrown out each year. When it’s time, replace your plastic toothbrush for a recyclable alternative. Bamboo  is a recyclable option that biodegrades easily and Suri electric toothbrushes promise a non-plastic, fully recyclable option. (Ask your dentist to offer plastic alternative toothbrushes when they give you a new one at your next check-up.)  

Alternatives to plastic packaged toothpaste include chewable pill- sized toothpaste, tooth powder and even your own home made alternative! 


Deodorant is another common plastic item that people go through quickly. Switch to deodorant that comes in a cardboard tube or glass container that, with a little looking, you can find at Natural Grocers in Hailey and a variety of other stores are catching  on. 

Toilet paper

Purchase toilet paper rolls that aren’t wrapped in plastic. This is a great thing to ask your local store manager to consider stocking in your favorite store.  Currently you can order a variety of paper wrapped and recycled TP online and some local stores stock 7th Generation that sometimes comes in paper.

Bathroom Cleaners

Advertisers would have you believe that there is some magic in their bright, plastic bottled cleaning product but from the cleaning spray for your mirror and fixtures to the many options for tile and shower grout, an old fashioned cleaning powder or your own home-made cleaners with vinegar, baking soda, and an old toothbrush and cloth rags can do the job without a single plastic bottle needed.

While we all want to do what we can to go plastic free, we also need to call on our leaders and store owners to require producers to take responsibility for the waste their products create. Challenge #3A could be to take a minute and write to your favorite brands to ask for better non-plastic packaging and products so you can return to their product. 



The Challenge – Start replacing the plastic in your kitchen by replacing plastic-heavy products with some healthier and more sustainable options. From kitchen cleaning supplies to food storage to food shopping and take out, look for options that will not break down into micro and nano- plastics in your food and air.

You may have heard that the typical American currently ingests a credit card worth of plastic every single week (that’s 52 credit cards a year!).  This plastic generally comes in the form of micro and nano-plastics that are already in your food or picked up by your foods as they are stored, prepared, heated, frozen, kept in the sun or put in your mouth via plastic bottles, dishware and utensils.  

Studies have already begun to link the buildup of nano-plastics in our bodies to heart, brain, various organ, developmental, and hormonal illnesses.  

 4 tips for reducing your chances of ingesting more plastics from food and drink.

1) Take your reusable mug or bottle when leaving home and refuse single-use plastic bottles.

We’re lucky to have incredible access to safe drinking water so taking a reusable water bottle avoids unnecessary single-use plastic bottles and their damaging impacts to our health, our surroundings and our planet. Keep your bottle in a handy location so you always remember it. If you accidentally forget, you can always:  drink from a water fountain, ask your cafe for a glass of water or make do in the workplace with a mug or clean jar.  And don’t forget to take your own reusable when traveling to reduce your impact on the beautiful places you love to visit.

2) Have a set of reusable shopping and produce bags in a handy location

Most of us already have way more reusable bags than we need, but they are only reusable if you remember to use them. Spread them around and keep bags at work for a quick take out, the car or bicycle basket, at the front door, or where you keep essentials such as keys, phone and glasses. If you don’t have enough bags to go around, consider making your own reusable shopping bags and zero waste produce bags using repurposed fabric or giving new life to items such as faded pillow cases or old t-shirts. 

If you get caught having forgotten, grab an empty cardboard box from the supermarket, carry just a few items in your arms , or take the shopping cart out to the car to unload them directly. 

  • A motto to live by; If you don’t want microplastics in your body or your home, don’t put your food in plastic bags, bottles and storage. 

3) Reusable glass, metal, silicone, and wax storage containers and covers

When shopping, avoid pre-packaged foods or excessive plastic packaging on all items. Frequent stores and the farmer’s markets that offer unpackaged fruit and vegetables as well as products packaged in returnable or refillable packaging. Many of our local stores are trying to find plastic packaging alternatives but it might take a bit of searching on lower or higher shelves to find these alternatives.

When storing food and leftovers there is always the tried and true upside down plate on a bowl or bowl on a plate. Reusable silicone bowl toppers or waxed clothes work well to cover food in bowls, pots and pans too.   For long term storage, it’s hard to beat glass or stainless steel containers such as old peanut but jars or bento boxes for storing nuts, grains, and dried foods or salads, soups and casseroles. 

Besides reducing the microplastics in our homes, rivers, and roadways, preventing the chance of plastics or plastic bags ending up in our natural environment will protect  wildlife who may mistake plastic for food.


4) Choose plastic free cleaning products and homemade alternatives

When it’s time to replace cleaning brushes and cloths, look to natural fibers. There are plenty of alternatives on the market that can be composted at the end of their lifespan and work every bit as well as synthetics.  Areas that require a bit of a scrub (like the grout between tiles) can be cleaned well with homemade or bulk-bought cleaning products applied with an old toothbrush. 

A simple, all-purpose cleaner of equal parts of white vinegar and water (vinegar is a recommended product for mold removal), or a simple water and baking soda paste for scrubbing that discolored grout and tile. Adding a few drops of essential oil or a squeeze of citrus juice will make homemade cleaning options smell great too.

And don’t forget that vacuuming and dusting regularly with a damp mop is an important way to remove dust containing plastic particles and chemicals before they can be inhaled by land in our drink and food.

The impact of making the shift away from kitchen plastics;

  • Avoiding chemicals that can be toxic for yourself, your family and the planet. 

  • Reducing plastic waste and the use of our natural resources in creating it.

  • Saving money by buying in bulk or using homemade cleaning products.


While we all want to do what we can to go plastic free, we also need to call on our store owners and our lawmakers to require producers to take responsibility for the waste their products create. Or write directly to your favorite brands to ask for better non-plastic packaging and products. 


For more thoughts and ideas on reducing plastic in your home and life at

Plastic Reduction Challenge #5 – Trash Audit !!


Plastics- reduction challenge #5 – Do your own trash audit the day before your trash pick-up day to see what you bring into your house regularly by looking at what is thrown out regularly.


A trash audit is a bit messier than the slow road to changing out your single use products for reusables or replacing plastic bottled cleansers and drinks with non-plastic alternatives, but an audit can lead to quicker solutions for reducing the plastic build up in your life.  Reducing the amount of packaging or needless products you purchase is key to reducing your waste and, of course, needless plastics.


We did our first trash audit about 2 years ago and it led to a few changes in our eating and buying habits.  We took the trash audit challenge again this week to see if those few changes made 2 years ago showed much of a difference in our waste now…. and what our next reduction step might be.


Three simple steps for your own audit –


Step 1 – Dump out this week’s garbage onto a plastic tarp for sorting and see if there are any obvious patterns of where your waste comes from; clothes, food, packaging, paper, recyclables, broken goods, etc.  


We noticed that we eat a lot of ice cream (we already knew that) and we haven’t figured out how to get rid of the ‘To Resident’ flyers that fill our mailbox occasionally – especially around elections.


Step 2 – To identify plastics in your waste stream, sort out all of the plastics found in your trash and your recycling for the week to see how you might reduce.




We had 3 possible recyclable/reusable plastics in our trash this week. The yogurt and tofu containers are both #5 recyclables so they were put in our blue bin.  An empty plastic prescription bottle was not put in the trash and returned without the label to Luke’s Pharmacy for them to reuse.  (I’m hoping that they were able to do that.)  The zip lock tortilla bag was washed and returned to the kitchen for later use for food storage as a replacement to buying single use zip lock bags.

The rest were non- recyclable plastics – not #1-#5 or the recyclable plastic film bags or wrappers you can take to Ohio Gulch or the DMV’s plastic film recycling bin at their front door.


Step #3 – Since the mess is already there, take a moment to see if there are any other items in your trash that you could also address.  




Clearly most of the waste here is ice cream packaging and unsolicited advertising. Our next step in cutting down on these two areas of accumulated waste are still being discussed.  Two years ago we found that most of our waste was packaging for breakfast cereal and the large yogurt containers we accumulated weekly.  Although we were already reusing the plastic yogurt containers where we could, we began making our own granola and yogurt and that has reduced our waste a surprising amount. 


 Refusing to buy items that lead to regular bulk and weight going to the landfill is the fastest way to reduce both plastics and unnecessary products in your home.  Learning to repair, replace, reuse or make your own are a bit less convenient than the manufactured alternative but the product is often a better one than store bought and can bring more personal satisfaction to you when you find your solution.  

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