1.11.2008

Shouting from my soapbox: Too much plastic

As many of you know, I get very excited about "issues" and like to rant and wave my arms around. Well, here's another one (after the too much perfume one, which was such a big deal to me I started a blog about the evils of perfume/fragrance). This one is plastic. Do you have any idea how much plastic you use and throw away? I was completely appalled when I honestly assessed the amount of plastic waste in our household. And don't tell me it's okay because you put it in the recycle bin. THAT'S EVEN WORSE THAN USING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!! Check out this video about what happens to plastic set out in your recycle bin. (Don't bore me with details about how this news report concerns British plastic -- you can be SURE that the US of A sends tons and tons and tons of recylcing to China.) My friend Lauri sent me the name of a very interesting site: FakePlasticFish. That's where the video is. It's worth spending some time there and educating yourself.
Recycling is a thing of the past. Recycling is part of the problem now. Using shit that gets thrown away is not okay. It's time to examine our trash!! Do you want to help or do you want to continue thinking that you're a good doobee because you gather up all your plastic bags and take them back to the grocery store??? Arghh. In the '60's we shouted "If you're not part of the solution, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!" It was true then and it's true now. Here's an excellent first step: sign the Think Outside the Bottle pledge, that will help. It's important to remember that changes can be tiny, you don't have to solve the entire problem by yourself today. Here are three suggestions: take canvas bags with you everywhere, never let anyone send you home with plastic bags; get a glass bottle with a lid that you can refill with water, never buy bottled water; and pay attention to the things you're buying: how much plastic are you going to have to throw away because of your purchases.
Okay. We can do this. I feel another self-righteous blog coming on.

5 comments:

melissa lion said...

May I comment from the cheapskate's point of view? I am so cheap. When we bought our house in Portland and I started having to pay for garbage and water, I was shocked by our misuse. Can you believe, our first month here, we were putting out two garbage cans? When I got the first garbage bill and it was for twice what we had expected (two cans, twice as much) I went out and bought cloth napkins, these cool rags from Trader Joe's that absorb three times their weight and we started using our dishtowels. We're off paper towels and recycle what we can -- thank god beer comes in glass bottles.

Also, most grocery stores offer a few cents back when you use your own bags. I reuse the brown paper bags we got when we first moved here. I don't have canvas ones, but the paper bags still work fine. And they were free. At New Seasons, they always forget to give me my discount, but I stand there and wait for it because I want my thirty cents!

New Seasons also has a guide in their seafood section for each fish and how sustainably it was caught.

Remember too that Americans throw out 30% of the food we buy. How scary! Eating at home and eating everything in your fridge each week is a good start. By Sunday we're having a Spanish tortilla with the remnants of veggies and whatever I can find. Pasta and soup are also great 'kitchen sink' meals.

My two cents. Oh, and now we're down to half a can.

melissa lion said...

Oh, two more cheap tips -- the bulk food aisle is your friend, and there's less packaging. And cooking things from scratch is also so much cheaper and better for the environment. Alice Waters's new cookbook, Art of Simple food has a great recipe for homemade noodles, and Cooks Illustrated is a great resource for all food, including the pizza dough we make on a weekly basis. So much better than buying it and spending money on ingredients I already have. If you think you don't have time for this, just time yourself going out over and over and over for food, vs being at home and making it from what you have. It's about the same. And food from home tastes better, is better for you and is CHEAPER!

I'll step off my soap box now. Thank you for letting me use your blog this way. Or, delete this if you think it's too much.

XOML

Cathy Mullins said...

Melissa,
Not only is it NOT too much, I think it might NOT BE ENOUGH! Thanks for joining in the shout. The more the merrier.
I will get Alice Water's book -- I was meaning to anyway from all you've written about it.

By the way, speaking of bulk, back in the '70's there were coops (not the apartment kind, the food kind) where you could bring your own containers and fill them with beans, mayo, almond butter, etc., re-using the containers over and over. There might be something like that in Portland -- it's a certainty there's nothing like that here. omg.

Lauri said...

It's almost overwhelming to open the refrigerator door or look in the pantry, and see how much of our food is packaged in plastic! Yogurt, milk, cheese; what to do?? I agree, use canvas bags and i will make small cotton ones to use for vegies, but what about the dairy foods?? Any ideas?? Co-ops where you can refill your own glass jars are an option in some parts of the country for some things , but not all. And that's just foodstuffs! Take a good look around your homes!
Let's start paying attention to our plastic waste!

Slayde said...

Consuming out of plastic containers is also a health hazard, it turns out. Certain plastics (#3, and #7) are known to leach the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen and causes hormone disruption and other related problems. Another reason to avoid plastic water bottles, for one thing.