230. Life Without Plastics | Jay Sinha | Quebec, Canada

Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha

I was saving this for the Fourth of July It seemed like a great Independence day episode and then it didn’t quite get done but close!chantal_and_jay_200.jpg

Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Health


Tell us a little about yourself.

I have kind of a mixed background

  • law
  • science
  • biochemistry
  • ecotoxicology

wife Chantal Plamondon

she has a background in law as well with business and ethics

Our story goes back several years, starts with our son who was born in 2003.

We were quite eco minded and environmentally friendly in the way we lived. When he was born we took it to a new level, we had some mold in the place that we were living and we got sick for about a year. As a result we became 

  • more environmentally friendly
  • decrease our toxic load all around
  • exposure to toxins in our everyday life.

Chantal read this great article on plastics and the chemicals that come out of plastics!

That was kind of news to us, we were doing what we thought was the eco friendly.

We would use the bottle and wash it and use it over and over 

Those bottles are intended for single use, not intended to be used over and over

break down

single use disposable


started to look for a non plastic bottle

it was very hard to find! Back in 2003.

There wasn’t that much out there, but we found a coop

Klean Kanteen

they were making stainless steel bottles

tried it out


so when our son was born we wanted to buy some glass baby bottles

avoid plastics

  • still needed to store milk
  • didn’t want to be boiling plastic bottles
  • high temps are hard on the plastic
  • didn’t want to expose our son to plastic.

We looked for glass baby bottles

They used to be the norm!

at that point in the early 2000s hard to find

did find a company that was making them

contacted them to buy some glass baby bottles but the minimum order was a 1000

Chantal always wanted to start her own business

wanted to do something environmental

offering alternatives

knew there were others out there looking for them

started with those products

glass water bottles

stainless steel food containers to replace tupperware

lots of tupperware and we would use it over and over

if you put a tupperware container

microwave it

over time you’ll find it might become a little red or orange can’t wash it off

That’s because the spaghetti sauce which is kind of oily, when it’s subjected to a lot of heat, it goes into the plastic so then some of the plastic is coming out into the spaghetti sauce.

The chemicals that we now know can disrupt the hormones in humans

began with these stainless steel

put up the website 

  • started selling these things but also
  • educating about the whole plastics issue

It really took off!

The Canadian government back in 2007 decided to ban the use of BPA it’s a chemical that is used in plastic called polycarbonate which was used to make a lot of baby bottle and water bottles. 

It’s still used in those huge plastic water dispensers in offices!

It’s also used to make epoxy that lines canned food. Pretty much all canned food there are a few examples now, but most still have lining made of BPA

strange but very widespread is those very thin cash register receipts

ink on them

So if you are touching the ink then it goes directly into your skin

tid bit

antibacterial agent in it will actually increase the absorption of BPA from cash register receipt. So when the Canadian government banned that really put a lot more interest of people looking for alternatives to plastic and baby bottles and the lining of baby formula containers. 

That got people more and more interested to finding an alternative and we happened to be there at the right time and place. That really gave a boost to our business.

We went more broadly. We were finding alternative plastics that would minimize contact with food and drink

  • non plastic brushes
  • non plastic shaving products
  • not plastic bags

sort of things

one stop shop for alternatives to plastic 

That’s sort of our initial story!

I’m so bummed I didn’t catch the pre-chat, I was talking about having made a new years resolution. My good friend Dacia, has a business where she makes home made aprons and soaps and she’s been really getting into wildcrafting. Last year she made a resolution to eliminate plastic from her life because she has 2 kids too and she wants to keep them away from.

So I’m trying this year, and my students keep asking me why are you using a quart mason jar. I talked to this young girl who was a scientist she said that it was the bacteria I couldn’t get out when I cleaned it that would hurt me. But that could have bene a while ago, maybe plastic has changed since then too. It’s so flimsy. I also followed this Food Babe diet, she says you should get up and have lemon with cayenne pepper every day, but that works for me with a canning jar.

I wanted to say I think i found you because you were on Facebook, you went on a trip, where they were scuba diving and there was a two mile wide thing of ocean. 

In Bali there’s a wildlife photographer who filmed plastic underwater. It’s just stunning.

 It’s literally exploding as governments take notice and NGOs, and people. 

As part of that plan they are trying to reduce the use of avoidable plastics. Single use plastic by 2042 completely. The European Union has a plan as well.

Large packaging.

Also they were shipping a lot of the plastic waste to China, came into affect in January they are no longer accept plastics and other waste and this is applying to Canada and US. Ramping up recycling infrastructure.

Our focus is on reducing plastic comsumption

changing individual behavior habits

It’s a question of habits. You said yourself, it’s

second use bottles

just a after of chaining the mindset

Instead have a dispenser at home

bottle few bottles

  • glass
  • stainless steel

get in the habit of using those

Also don’t be afraid of tap water

tap is tested regularly

bottled water is not tested the same

Many people don’t know a lot of bottled water is tap water that has likely been through a reverse osmosis

not regulated

most tap water is 

unless there are known problems in a certain community

Like Flint

Well that’s what I was thinking  because of the gas there it’s not drinkable.

In terms with reducing the plastic around the world it starts with individual behavior. The waste that comes from this packaging

  • ends up in the oceans
  • on land too

but the oceans are like a giant sink.

Things that go in the landfill may go up in the air


waste that comes from ships

cruise ships

rivers that come from

straight into the oceans


tons of research thats being done by scientific researchers and some NGOs


Algalita Research and Education Dr. Charles Moore

He was sailing from Hawaii across to California to Long Beach where he’s based and he was stunned to see there were islands of plastic just floating there. There’s a lot of visable plastic but for the first 6 inches there’s like all thse microplastics in this area in the North Pacific becae to be known as the Great Pacific Plastic Patch.

When the plastics go into the water they break down quite quickly into tinier pieces of plastic.


wildlife are eating this plastic

  • fish
  • seabirds
  • even!
  • plankton

explain that

plankton tiny tiny organisms that produce water and oxygen. They are at the base of the oceanic and global food chain. We found the plankton are preferentially eating plastic over their normal food.

They’ve tagged pieces of micro plastic with a florescent tag and they can see the plastic going into the plankton and they get 

  • eaten by small fish
  • then eaten by larger fish
  • sea birds
  • larger mammals
  • whales
  • sharks and dolphins

right up the food chain

They’re finding whales that are dying in quite large numbers because their stomachs are full of plastic and they can not digest real food their intestines are clogged and they basically starve

can not take in actual food

in terms of larger global issue

50% of oxygen in world

digesting plastic

serious issue

all of us humans as well

apart from the part

as these plastics go up

concentrated more

fat tissues

fish and birds

fish in particular are eaten by humans eventually

As the plastics are in the ocean they actually absorb, attach to outside things like

  • fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • heavy food metals

go into fish, birds, oil, concentrated up  the food chain

When you’re eating fish theres a good change there could be a concentration of chemicals that are making it into that fish. 

This is another issue looked at by researchers and why our governments on board and

  • international issue
  • oceanic plastic pollution
  • widespread

There’s basically a layer around the world

of plastics on land as well

most recently found in drinking water and bottled water!

Just this last week (recorded on March 17th 2018) study gone viral

done by a commissioned by a journalism organization

Professor Dr Sherry Mason


University of Fredonia 

top researchers

259 different samples of bottle water from 11 different brands purchased in 9 different countries

Found 93% of those 259 samples had plastics in them!

These micro plastics

  • bottles
  • caps

are made out of the caps.

  • data
  • plastics just from use of bottle
  • screw on off the cap

I was just thinking that might be a good segue into your website and book!

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Health

launched back in December

how to guide

decrease your plastic use

chapter 2

plastic free living approach

Pareto principle

80/20 rule that basically

says that about effects come from 80 of causes

get rid of 20% of the plastics in your life your impact is probably closer to the 80% because they are the core of the problem

Examples and Solutions!

It begins with a question of behavior and habit change

so easy now to find non plastic bags

or durable heavy duty plastic bags you can use over and over again! As compared to ones you only use once.

Cloth bags

You just bring them with you

  • fold up really small
  • organic cotton ones
  • super durable
  • wash them periodically

any bag should be washed periodically to eliminate bacteria

smaller bag

smaller mesh

producers like fruit and vegetables

cotton bags

  • flour
  • oatmeal
  • things like that


having them nearby and making it easier for yourself to use them

plastic water bottle

We truly believe at this point everybody should have a non plastic water bottle you cary with you


carabiner – click it to your backpack

fill it up where ever you go

going to school fill it there

Another one that is easy and should be standard issue in any plastic free kit


steel or ceramic

don’t have to take disposable cups are generally lined with plastic

mostly  paper cups lined with the plastic that can’t be recycled and end up landing into a landfill

Can I ask you about that? I always have a cup, but it has a plastic lid.

Can get some that have stainless steel word

plastic called polypropelene



more stable plastic

because its the cap it’s not in as in direct contact with the rest of the beverage. It’s not ideal but definitely much better then using a cup that has one of those plastic lids.

Usually made of plastic polystyrene


want to avoid


not a good chemical can leach styrene

get to be putting in your body

polystyrene not recycled as much 

You know what I realized when I was in NY a few years ago, people in NY in suits and stuff just don’t carry things. They don’t have backpacks, some do, but most people just don’t have things. 

You’re gonna see it more and more. It might be a bit difficult in the beginning but it just takes some planning.


go for take out

fork knife or spoon

gonna use them for a matter of minutes

most are not recycled

9% that go into the waste stream actually gets recycled 

replace utensils



combine spoon and fork to make a spork that folds

so easy

we use them all the time

glove compartment

don’t get taken away by security on planes

love them! 


people who use straws

made out of plastic

  • wood
  • bamboo
  • straws are an enormous problem in the world.

people are becoming aware of this.

Approximately 500,000 million straws each day 

  • just in the states
  • discarded in the US alone
  • put that in perspective

1.6 straws per person per day

175 billion every year

That doesn’t even include the straws on the little juice boxes


An easy way to avoid them

one have your own

Also, when you go into the restaurant or bar, they automatically give you one but if you indicate to the server before you don’t want a straw they’ll be happy.

If you are in the habit and practices and bars and well

so often you don’t use it but to just stir your ice cubes and drink directly from the glass anyway and then it just goes straight into the landfill

stainless steel straws

get little brush, the ones we sell come with a brush.

They’re very easy to clean

  • bamboo
  • how long will it last
  • cared for
  • cleaned regularly

can last for months and years

super durable

glass straws give life time guarantees so if it does break you can get a free one

don’t want to be smashing it against a stone wall but they are very durable even for children.

I don’t understand it, the grocery bags are more convenient they’re so much stronger and the plastic bags you have to use so many. My friend Dacia has started making those mesh ones that she uses. I’ve seen on Facebook some foldable material people are putting things in. 

options out there now easy to come by

There’s a new choice that eliminates the use of plastic wrap

saran plastic

awful plastic

unstable plastic

chemical BPA

another class of chemicals that are endocrine obstructors


55% of plastic



plastic wraps are very very pliable and flexible

When you put one of those wraps on a hot dish and you have condensation falling back into the food. One replacement is  usually an organic cotton coated in beeswax

spread on top of a bowl with warmth of your hands it will stick to the bowl

  • fish
  • meat or cheese
  • snacks
  • lunches
  • easy to carry

want to clean with cold water

if you use them with hot water they take off the bees wax

Using them for years, clean with soapy water

One of our staples

love them once the use them and incorporate them into daily life.

We should talk about how this relates how this relates to our garden.


Theres a section in our book about how to keep plastic out of the garden.

garden tools

  • non plastic tools
  • shovels
  • hoes


it depends on the scale of the garden

It’s pretty hard to avoid it coming in those plastic bags

much more heavy duty quite thick to use them for garbage etc.

order soil in bulk

The pots and planters you get small seedlings in that becomes a bit harder

accumulated a lot of those

The planters

are usually made out of polly properalyne

can be recycled and reused

small trays

small seedlings


can be come very brittle not that recyclable

One way to avoid those is to create your own seedlings using a soil blocker

Soil Blockers

Soil blockers are the cookie cutter of gardening

eliminate the need for a tray or plastic container

  • thin
  • wear and tear
  • crumble

cheap polyethylene

talks about

easily tear


Let me explain it a little better becasue I remember when she talked about it I was like what are you talking about. You plant a big tray of dirt, and then you take the blocker like a cookie cutter, it’s not until you plant the seedling, it takes the dirt out, so you never need that plastic container.

soil blocker

creates cubes of

final layer of soil on the top

leaves a whole where you put  the seed in

put a layer

in all the compartments that you have made

We do have friends we live in a rural area who have used them with great success

I think the other benefit is the roots grow straight down because there is no cup.

I did want to ask you about that, Anastaisa Cole Plakias talks a lot about the importance of making a profit, there’s probably someone interested in the business side because I have a lot of green future growers and people who are intersted in buildng a profiable business as compared to a non-profit.

core element there

meet a need that you yourself to need

scratching your own itch

something your passionate about

In terms of gardening there are all sorts of things there especially a master gardener.



build it in the way where you’re trying find a little niche

find if there is something out there already based on what you want to do

Find an angle or aspect that hasn’t been dealt with before or in a way that hasn’t been out there before or a twist on an old idea

one example

what we do looking for new products

not new

given them a new twist

ice cube tray

made out of plastic or silicone

back in the 60s they were made out of aluminum

metal tray and a mold you put in that cuts them really cleanly.

It’s kind of like the soil blocker now that you say that! 

popsicle mold

made ones out of stainless steel as well

Things like that, going back in time

mason jar

it’s been around for ages and ages, an old tool but giving it a new twists

eco jars 

specializes in lids for drinking

  • making coffee
  • filtering coffee

new ways to use mason jar

little ideas can go a really long little way

broad health issues, decrease pollution in lives

Garden area and food production in general

research in small square farming all over the world

In the area we live there are many small organic farms by Millennials who are kind of fed up with food system.



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Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy – launched on December 12th, 2017 and is available wherever books are sold.

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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