Monday, August 2, 2021

Plastics Update

After studying the pile of plastic waste that I collected in only 10 days (see this post), I am still at loss how to avoid many of the sources of single-use plastic. I have found that at least one local store still takes some bags, and will recycle what I can, but as I remain skeptical that much will actually get recycled, I have identified a few places where I can make a little extra effort and reduce my use of single-use bags in the first place (note: I do try to re-use whatever I can, as many times as I can. In the end, they are still plastic waste).

1. I will make more fabric produce bags, and shop where I can use them. I made a LOT of these a couple of years ago and gave them out at Christmas. In the end, I didn't have enough left for myself. They're a little fussy to make and I've been lazy, and never got around to making more. Time to fix that! (BTW, the fabric is another case of re-using something that would otherwise be waste, a set of worn-out sheer curtains I knew there was some reason I never threw away).

2. I will dodge fruit that only comes in clamshell plastic. This will hurt a little--I know of no other way to get fresh blueberries, when my own bush isn't producing (which it does for about 1 month a year). I will probably keep buying frozen berries out of season, though of course they come in single-use plastic bags.

3. No plastic meat trays. Again, this is a half-satisfactory trade-off, as even the meats from the butcher counter are wrapped in plastic before I get them. If the trays are truly recycled, they may be a better option than plastic wrap, but again, I'm dubious about how much plastic really gets recycled in a meaningful way.

4. I have already stopped buying liquid shampoo and conditioner, though there is a lot around here to use up. Sometimes (like for trips to the gym) it's more convenient, so I'll use the liquid for that until it's gone. This one is easy--I'm very happy with my shampoo bars (from Trader Joe's, and I hope they don't discontinue them), but am open to suggestions for the best place to get conditioner bars.

5. Finally, I'm also shifting away from plastic bags and plastic wrap for food storage in my own kitchen. I have a lifetime supply of storage containers, and plenty of room in my fridge, so this is easy. I will keep on using plastic wrap when I repackage meats for the freezer, but that's really about the only place it seems necessary.

Of course, "grow your own" is a great way to avoid packaging, at least during the growing season!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
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  1. Good work. A number of thoughts.

    I shared on my twin's facebook page a nice diagram of the stepladder to sustainability - you can't do it in giant steps.

    Oddbox did something on their blog about plastic and food; basically wasted food is more of a climate and environmental issue than plastic waste, so don't beat yourself up if your plastic is stopping food being wasted because it's gone off.

    I succumbed to a facebook ad to buy a set of stretchy bowl covers (in assorted sizes) to help get rid of the need for clingfilm over your food in the fridge (saran-wrap?). They're great, and also go over anything regular shaped like half-melons...

    Someone in our town has just opened up a 'dry goods and cleaning stuff-come and fill your own jars/bags' shop. Entrepreneurs abound. I must check this out.

    Otherwise... good progress. I have done nothing new with mine except check the supermarket delivery man is now accepting bags again. Must get them ready for tomorrow morning. That includes all the cereal packet inners etc.

    1. I need to check again for the bag recycling—it’s at a store I don’t shop at much. And yes, I saw the ladder, and that’s kind of what I’m trying to do. Realistically, if i can make one of the above a part of my life, plus the little changes where I just think twice before grabbing the plastic wrap, I’ll be doing well for now. Also thinking about how to use less plastic—or use it more lightly so it can be reused more—when prepping food for backpacking.

  2. Hi Rebecca - it's doing what we each individually can to utilise everything sensibly. We are so profligate ... it's been worse in this pandemic year - people are so disrespectful of other people's neighbourhoods, leave things that cost behind, etc etc ... people??!!??!! Thanks for this and for Jemima's comment - cheers Hilary

    1. Yes, the pandemic has made it much worse—everything disposable, no reusable bags, etc. Glad to see those bans lifted, since they kind of missed the point for the virus anyway.


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