Plastic-Free Challenge: Shopping in Arlington

Plastic-Free Challenge: Shopping in Arlington

What to do if everything is wrapped in plastic? Talk to the vendor.

Spring Valley Farms agreed to put its cider into a glass container if shoppers brought a container to be filled the following week.

Spring Valley Farms agreed to put its cider into a glass container if shoppers brought a container to be filled the following week. Photo by Eden Brown.


Ines Bousabaa of Arlington shopped for peaches and tomatoes at the Westover Farmers market using her own produce bags instead of plastic.


Ozfeca Catering, a Turkish food caterer, agreed to provide his food in a glass container next week if customers did not want to use plastic.


Anita Clagg, a lifetime Arlington resident, takes her own string bags, which she made during a period of recuperation, with her wherever she goes. She is a plastic-free shopper and frequents the Westover Farmer’s Market because she can avoid plastic. She agreed the big challenge in Arlington is buying meats without plastic wrapping. Clagg said the National Geographic magazine has a special issue on plastic which would leave readers convinced it is time to give up plastic.

EcoAction Arlington is challenging Arlingtonians to use less plastic. Each week, a challenge is issued from EcoAction Arlington. This week: show how you can shop without using plastic. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

EcoAction Arlington offers helpful suggestions on how to eschew plastic and asks residents to offer their own work-arounds. They suggest making one’s own nut butter and using grocery stores that allow customers to make it right there in store, instead of buying plastic jars of peanut butter. They ask Arlingtonians to purchase soap, shampoo, and conditioner in bars instead of plastic bottles.

The challenge has been in place since Aug. 21 and will run through Oct. 19, but awareness of plastic as a serious problem, such as the National Geographic magazine’s issue on plastic pollution, and the plastic straw free movement, has taken off recently.

Taking the plastic-free challenge is an education in and of itself: If you try to live life without plastic bags, plastic bottles, and plastic wrap, you start to realize how everything that used to come wrapped in cloth, waxed paper, or burlap, now comes in plastic. It will be up to consumers to lean on the industries that package their avocados, oranges, and bananas in plastic to change the way they market. Individuals can affect the decision-making when they stop purchasing anything in plastic.

EcoAction Arlington provides environmental education and volunteer opportunities to Arlington residents. Supported primarily by the Arlington County government under a grant from the Department of Environmental Services Solid Waste Division, the organization is also funded through government and foundation grants, as well as donations from individuals and organizations. For more information, see:

EcoAction Arlington is asking Arlingtonians to share pictures and ideas of plastic-free shopping on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and include the hashtag #PlasticFreeDMV, or if avoiding social media, send to