May Challenge: Week 1 Plastic Results

We have decided to post weekly results for the May Challenge. Instead of monthly, then we can see more often what we need to fix. I am happy with our results, but know we can do so much better. It is good to see everything laid out, it helps to see what we really need to work on. Below is the photo from Week 1 (May 1-7) of all our plastic that we used.

Week 1 we used/collected 26 items equaling 229 grams / 8.07 ounces total.

(Ole’s birthday party, not everyone knew we are on the challenge)

2 produce bags
1 Cava bottle top wrapper
1 Chocolate bar wrapper
2 6 pack wrappers from local beer


2 frozen food packages, french fries and diced potatoes (had been lingering in fridge)
1 sour cream container
1 plain yogurt container
1 IKEA candle cover/lid
1 chocolate bar wrapper
1 5 KG bag rice
1 1 KG bag whole grain rice


3 wrappers from pork loin
(figured I would bring them from the butcher for the count, since our meat was already in it.)
1 6 pack wrapper from local beer
1 salmon wrapper
1 snickers bar wrapper
2 juice box tabs
1 button from new mesh strainer / siv
1 cap with wrapper from Oil bottle
1 wooden cutting board wrapper

I have submitted our results to the My Plastic Free Life: Plastic Trash Challenge. Beth, of My Plastic Free Life, ask some questions when you submit your weeks tally. Here are my answers below.

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
I have been making my own yogurt for some time now, but my starter died out last week (I waited to long between batches).. So I had to buy a new container of yogurt to get it going again.

Salmon – We will now be buying it only fresh – I mean, I am living in Norway land of fish!

Snickers – Ole bought it on the way to a footbal match

Rice – I have finally been able to find a store that sells boxed rice!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
Frozen food items. They have been bought out of laziness, we are on another challenge to buy nothing processed – so no more of them!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Baking Chocolate – it only comes in plastic wrappers here 🙁

Our local beer, we know the brewers and love that it is local. However, we will be letting them know more and more (then we already have) that they should pack the 6 packs in paper.

My local butcher has started pre packing down the cuts of meat we buy. They used to just have then sitting out in the counter, but now they are already in a baggie. Since it was for the food I am buying I tell them to leave it in the bag, so I can add it to my count.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
We have been trying to reduce our plastic for some time now. I have been following the other ‘challengies’ and have decided that we need to join in!

We have made significant changes in our life since the new year. We are trying to only eat 100% real unprocessed locally grown/raised food. It is amazing how much plastic is eliminated when you are not buying packaged foods.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Everything but the oil, meat and beer packaging.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I was hoping that we would not have this much trash. We have been consciously avoid plastics for some months now. But it is nice (a sad nice) to see where we are actually at in our plastic collection. We will be actively counting our plastics the whole month of May.

So what do you think? Are you ready to join in the challenge?

The May Challenge

Over the past few months Ole and myself have been trying our hardest to eliminate plastic and waste producing food. This means taking our own bags to the store, fruit and veggie bags too. Avoid food packaged in plastic. Avoiding over packaged food. And so on. I think that we have been doing very well, but before I am going to allow us to get to comfy – we have to take a challenge.

This challenge will go the whole of May, feel free to join me it you want! This challenge will have 2 parts.

Part 1: The Plastic

We will be collecting all the plastic we produce the whole month in a bucket. I hope that we don’t produce much, but I have a feeling the downfall for us will be ice cream containers and candy bar wrappers. Until we get a ice cream machine we are going to keep buying ice cream, I told Ole I would not take everything he loves away, and he really loves ice cream. Not that I really have taken other things away, thought there were a few thing that we have decided are better to avoid knowing that dangers that can come along with them from preservatives and being in chemical leaching packaging.

We have a system set up for all out trash/waste. Let me walk you through it, as I am asked alot about if I am drowning in my system. We have 2 sections for gathering trash. Under a extension of our counter, which has no shelfs we have 3 bins. The largest bin is for paper products. Then there are two smaller ones; one for glass / metal and one for beer cans / bottles. I also have old cd lid full of batteries, to take to the grocery store to the battery/lightbulb recycling station. Under the skin we have a compost bucket attached to the door. This has been a new and great investment, much better then the lidded bowl we were trying to use. Also, under the sink we have a small 8×11″ tupperware box to collect what in Norwegian is called ‘restaval’ – which is the rest of the things that are really not fitting into any other bin. Also under the sink we have a small compost bucket (I originally wanted a bigger one, but I like that it is small. It makes us take it out regularity and avoid stink.). We have bins outside that the city collects for paper, compost and restaval. Then around the corner from my house there is one for glass/metal and plastic. The beer cans / bottles go back to the grocery store for a refund, since you pay a deposit on them when you buy.

This organizational system in whole is fairly new to us, it has taken me some time to get it organized just how I want it- where it will be the easiest for use to use and not to feel like it is a hassle. The compost was a issue for us in the start, as it was a small tupperware and we had to pull it out and ..well, it was just not ideal. I really like the box we got from Ikea, it mounts to the door and the lid is easy to pop up – my only complain is that the compost bags we get from the city fit it but it does not hold them well. We will have a small bucket in the corner for the plastic. My hope it that we eliminate the need for a bucket and can rid our selves of it. If we have plastic after this, we will have a small bag to collect it under the sink and then take to the recycling center. Another question that I get asked alot about this if we are constantly taking out our ‘trash’. Well simply put, no. At this point, the paper goes out about once a month and the bottles go back to the store once or twice a month (or when we want to have the cash from them 🙂 ). Compost goes out about every other day. The glass / metal when it is full, which has been about every 2 weeks, and when we go around the corner for the glass / metal we take any plastic we have with us. I am still unsure about the restaval, it was going down more often.. but now it has not went down in like weeks.. so I’ll go out on a limb and say it is monthly too.

So back to the challenge. We are going to keep all plastic in a bucket in the corner of our kitchen. Anything put it will be rinsed or washed if needed to keep the smell and ick away. Plus I found out recently that if there is any food on the plastic or metal you send to the recycling that they can not use it because by that time it is baked on and would take to many extra resources to wash all. I am not sure where it goes, was just told by a friend who had found out. At the end of the month we will take a photo and post the results. In the challenge we will not count beer lids and the like – metal lids that are covered in plastic, as they can not go into the plastic recycling and have to go into the restaval. Besides that, all hard and soft plastic will be in the bucket. I think that this will help us really see where we are, since I think we are doing so good. I hope that there is almost nothing in the bucket, but I fear that it will be much more then I think.

Part 2: The Cost

We will be keeping tack of all the money spent on goods. Not just a general we spent this amount, but a we spent XX on bread, XX on fruit, XX on toilet paper, ect. To the best I can, sometimes like at the farmers market you just get a final price.. so I will do my best. So anything we buy from the grocery store, farmers market, butcher, liquor store or organic store. We have looked back into our bills from October to see how much we used on these items then, when we were only shopping at the regular grocery store and the liquor store. We have been working to put our money to better places then big business, and now we are buying I think 80% of our goods not at the regular grocery store. The organic store is local and what they don’t have that is not local is responsible; the butcher is local and family owned since 1828; the farmers market is obviously local and the liquor store – well in Norway the liquor stores are run through a monopoly through the State, they are call Vinmonopolet and are the only option.

The point in this is to see if we are in fact eating for cheaper when we are eating healthy. Plus having alcohol and beer separate is good, as it can tilt the scales. I know that we will be drinking more this upcoming month then in October (the month we are comparing back too), due to the fact we both have jobs now, it is getting warmer and there are many parties coming! Not to mention we have just become abit obsessed with trying out specialty beers.

So wish us luck! Join in if you want! And leave any pointer and tips if you have some.

Why I don’t use toothpaste

DISCLAIMER!! Please read this and make an informed decision – ie. read up on tooth soap and tooth ‘healing’ around the internet. I am not a medical professional, just someone very interested in being healthy, natural and safe. I have had great success with this, but I still think you should make an INFORMED decision.

I bet that got your attention. It is definitely not a good opening line when meeting new people, so I use caution – but will share with you today anyways.

So a few months back my toothpaste started to really bother me, not that it was not working – but that I could not pronounce what was in it and it was in wasteful plastic. After digging around online to find alternatives, I read that baking soda was supposed to work great. But I recall Mema using this, and that while it cleaned she said it was harsh on the gums. So I read some more and found out that if you brush daily with baking soda it is like basically taking sandpaper to your teeth and gums. Ok so that was not a winner. Time too keep reading around then.

I came across this book “Good teeth, birth to death” by Dr. Judd. Dr. Judd explains that when we brush our teeth with conventional tooth paste that the glycerin in the toothpaste (all have it, even organic ones) coats are teeth. This is what the glycerin is there to do, protect the teeth from stains. However, if you have this coat of ‘gunk’ (if you will), on your teeth then your enamel will not regrow. So then your teeth are just getting beat up, then covered with a thin barrier wall. Sure this barrier wall is great, but it is not natural and has adverse side effects. If you have a layer of glycerin on your teeth they can not repair themselves, thus you get sensitive teeth or cavities or rot. And the fluoride in your toothpaste it not helping. Before fluoride was used for the teeth it was used as rat poison. yeah. ekk.

Dr. Judds lays out some things to do like make sure you are getting enough vitamins like calcium to have strong bones and to rinse your mouth after eating – especially well when eating acidic foods, just a swish of water around the mouth will do. You can order the book, or read it all here as DR Judd has allowed in the copyright for anyone to reproduce it. Dr. Judd is a chemistry professor and he is now in his 80’s with prefect teeth. He recommends that you avoid fluoride with all cost to, as it does not protect the teeth, and can harm the body. You know, those kid toothpaste tubes say to monitor your kids till you know they will not swallow and only give them a pea sized amount – but if they do swallow to call poison control, this should be a red flag to us!

I did not need to do much more reading before I decided that I was going to give it a try. I am one for jumping on these experiments. So I went to the store in hunt of a glycerin free bar of soap – as Dr. Judd says to use. (don’t use liquid, it supposedly does not work as well) I bought the only bar I could find that was plastic free and glycerin free. I was abit skeptical at this point, as I bought a bar of 100% olive oil soap and just could not imagine that it would be palatable. But I was committed, so I decided to suck it up. It is a rather simple process, wet your tooth brush and rub it over the bar a few times. Then brush as normal. The first 2 times the taste bothered me a tiny bit, but was manageable. By the time a week had gone by I did not even notice the taste anymore! And the most amazing part is that my teeth felt like I had just been to the dentist.. I could not stop running my tongue over them! They were so slick and so so clean feeling. And it just gets better, they stay that was all day – 3 meals later I still had slippery teeth! Since there is not a layer of gunk to catch the food, they stay smooth.

I am now a few months into this, and my sensitive spots have gone away. At times you can tell where you teeth are rebuilding themselves. At first I was alarmed by this and had to do a crazy amount of googling before I found out that this was normal. What might happen, if yours do this, is that there will be what feels like a new bump in your teeth. If you poke at it it will kinda crunch away, but try not to. From what I understand it is like your teeth form a barrier of its own over a ‘bad’ spot while it does maintenance. Your teeth somehow repair themselves then this ‘barrier’ just goes away and a happy new layer of enamel is there. Another great benefit of this is that new/renewing enamel means your teeth will be whitening themselves! At first your new enamel will not match your old enamel. It is supposed to take around 6 months for the whole tooth to re-enamel and then the colors will all match. My teeth are the most white at my gums, and it seems that it is slowly working down. I do have a few very white spots throughout too.

So you brush with soap every day. Then you also need to do this: once a week take a pinch of baking soda and wet your toothbrush to brush with it. NB: Be very careful to avoid the gums, just brush the teeth. This is to help with any build up that might have occurred, so brush very thoroughly. If you have never brushed with baking soda, it is salty so avoid the tongue too! One of the reasons that it will take around 6 months before you will see a complete change it that conventional toothpaste takes something like 40 washes to remove it and the glycerin from your teeth. Don’t get impatient, you will see results.

I read this a account of one ladies experience, she said that for the first 3 months when her teeth were ‘naked’ they felt abit more sensitive. I however have not had this issue. But I just wanted to put it out there. She said that it went away and she has not had any issues ever again. She also went on to say that around the 6 month mark she was shocked at how white her teeth were – and that it looked as if she had white veneers put on.

I have recently tried another bar of soap out of curiosity. I am working to convince Ole that he too can use a bar of soap so I was wanting to find one that had the least taste (Update: Ole has now been using soap with me since 2012). I tried a bar of Dr. Bronners mint, I was hoping that it might have or leave that minty taste. I found that it tasted to soap and that the mint essential oil in it somewhat stung my mouth. I would suggest going to your local store and hunting a pure oil soap with no essential oils. It might take a few stores actually. Read the labels, ask questions. Make sure to avoid glycerin in the soap, and I will also suggest to avoid essential oils. My soap is 100% olive oil that has been saponified. (Or check out where to buy Natural Toothpaste Alternatives online in my new article)

So as promised to some of you, I am posting photos of my teeth from before and current. I will post an update in 3-4 months with more results, as I am sure I will see more changes. I would like to point out that my goal is not for white teeth, I do not want Hollywood teeth – I want healthy teeth!

The first photo is from before when I was using toothpaste. The middle one is a month in. The 3rd photo is from April. Sorry they are not the best photos ever. Has been hard to get a good photo of teeth upclose.

Let me know your thoughts! Or if you have any questions.

UPDATE June 1, 2011
I just wanted to post an update, it is a great one! My younger sister, who is 12, had been to the dentist earlier this year (I think in February) and was told she had a cavity and to come back in a few months to get it fixed. Around that same time I had switched to brushing with soap, and she eagerly switched over to brushing with soap just after me. I had mentioned it to my dad, and he was on board and she wanted to join – I loved hearing that she was wanting to and understood the benefits.

So this week she went back to the dentist, there has been much talk about if this ‘soap and re-enameling healing’ stuff worked in our family, we have had our fingers crossed hoping it was so, so she could save her ‘adult’ tooth in whole. So my dad decided to no tell the dentist their new practice till the end, he wanted a non-bias appointment. So here is the good news – the dentist actually refused to fill her tooth, saying that it was healing and doing great. He said she had great levels of phosphorus (I think it was this?) and calcium in her salvia and her teeth were looking great and to keep doing what she was doing. At this point, my dad and sister did tell the dentist what they were doing.. and of course he had to get all doctor on them saying that it was not good to do, and they should basically use chemicals – haha, I had to laugh when my dad told me this since the dentist had just told them whatever they were doing was working great!

I am thrilled that my little sister was able to keep her tooth! It is just a great reassurance to me that brushing with soap and getting enough vitamins through your food makes for great teeth!

UPDATE January 15, 2013

Time for another update: I am still brushing my teeth with soap. I am using baking soda on Sundays to help polish off any stains (from tea/coffee) and using peroxide sometimes as a mouthwash. Other than that I have not had any changes. I just got back from the dentist, he was very impressed with my teeth. He confirmed that in a few spots where there were small very white spots where where my tooth was trying to remineralize and where fighting out previous cavities… He said they looked old (the cavities) and healed. He helped take the barrier off those areas with a high pressure baking soada wash. He said he could see that at one point many years ago I had bad teeth-care, but now that it was good and reversing. Just goes to show that the reversal does not happen over night. I definatly think I will go in once a year for the baking soda wash, it was nice and lifted a few light stains.

fondas teeth jan 2013Here are my teeth as of January 2013. You can see they have gotten much whiter. Other than a tooth I had problems with as a teen and am having rebuilt do to it dying years ago, I have not other issues with my teeth. yay!

See where to buy TOOTHPASTE ALTERNATIVES here.

My [mini] Herb Garden: Week 10 update

Numex Twilight (Chili Tree), planted more seeds. Finally getting sprouts!

Mint! It has gone crazy!





Cilantro. I only had one seed sprout after the store bought plant died (it lasted like 5 days). So I am just letting it go and hope it will drop some good seeds for me. Ill be patient.



Trying for an avocado tree too!

My original seeds have not all sprouted, they did arrive slightly damaged (bottle broke and they were soaked in chai syrup over a week). I think I might add more seeds in a few of the pots to get them really going by next year.

Plastics: The Sixth Basic Food Group

The article below is lengthy. All credits are given at the end. If you are worried about plastic in your food then this is a good read. If you are not worried about plastic, but don’t want to eat harmful chemicals that can disrupt hormones in you and your children – then this is a good read.

Readers who saw the 1970’s film The Graduate, starring a young Dustin Hoffman undecided about a career path, may recall the scene at his graduation party where an older family friend places an arm around young “Ben” and utters, “In one word – plastics. The future, my boy, is plastics.” Three decades later, the future is here and plastics are everywhere. We are now just beginning to understand the many ways plastic chemicals can interfere with health.


Phthalates are synthetic chemicals commonly found in inks, adhesives, vinyl floor coverings, some paints, and most plastic, including food wrap. Phthalates are plasticizers used to make plastic products more flexible. Their effects on human health is increasingly coming into question.

The offspring of female rats exposed to phthalates demonstrated a variety of abnormalities. “Most striking were their effects as androgen (male hormone) blockers in male offspring, which included a reduction of testosterone levels and abnormalities in the male reproductive tract.” [1]

A higher risk of miscarriage was observed among women exposed to high levels of phthalates. [2]
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