Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Confessions of a plastic user

My name is Rob, and I am a plasti-holic. I recently did FPF's Plastic Gauntlet challenge,
and feel I failed miserably. I am no Fake Plastic Fish.
So here I am trying to write a post on responsible re-use of plastic waste. Some
of these are easy- I almost always have "Muggsly" (what? You don't name
your coffee mug?) in hand so coffee is not a problem- no paper cups with
plastic lids for me! I re-use plastic pop bottles for upside down
planters, and for bel cloches to protect plants from the cold. I have
started saving dog food cans- Yes they have BPA in their plastic
linings- I freeze water in them to make luminarias. I save ziplock bags and
wash them out (not as gross as it sounds) when I wash dishes in the
dishwasher. Just turn them inside out and stick them in- this was handy
when I was feeding Romeo natural pet food stew from the pet food pantry.
But I have since quit doing that since they won't come up with a
reasonable way to allow customers to bring in their own containers. That
and the last few times I was there they were out of the ziplock bags and
I just don't do deli plastic clamshells. So I returned to canned dog
food. I still make Romeo's ice cream treats, which he loves. And there
is plastic involved with that as well- I use plastic ice trays, which
make cylindrical shaped ice cubes, and I store them in a ziplock- one of
Romi's old dog food ones as a matter of fact.
I have quit feeling guilty about plastic vegetable bags so much as I
reuse them over and over, until they finally come to the end of their
life as Romeo's poop bags. I know not perfect but better. I reuse breads
bags over and over again as bags to put produce in, store things in,
etc. etc. They end their life in the same way as the produce bags.
Of course it wouldn't bother me if no bags were involved with buying
produce- Sometimes I get away with it- for examples when at Trader
Joe's, that bastion of plastic wrapping, I buy organic bananas or
potatoes singular. That way no plastic bag gets involved- and their
checkers are more than happy to just place them in the bag! Nothing
makes me angrier than a checker assumes I forgot the plastic wrap and
puts the item in a plastic bag for me! BTW anyone notice the plastic is gone from the
tips of the organic bananas at Trader Joe's?
I know there is room for improvement; I do recycle all my #1 AND #2 pete
containers. #5 would be nice if we had a Whole Foods store in the area
that 1- Was local and 2- Participated in the Preserve "Gimme Five"
program. But it doesn't appear that will happen soon. I would buy in
bulk but there again no stores in the area to do that- except for the
local health food store. I would buy milk in glass bottles but the only
store that offered it closed. And I just don't know what's better:
plastic milk jugs or paper-board boxes?
That brings me to pop- I don't drink a great deal of pop- not a Coke
addict. But I prefer bottles over cans. But cans don't bother me much as
they are recyclable. In fact it is cheaper for the soda companies to
make cans from recycled aluminum than new aluminum. Apparently the BPA
in the can is not a problem either. Who the hell knows where it goes? It
would be nice to have one of those new-fangled soda machines that Beth
uses, but I don't drink enough pop to warrant it. Dry Cleaning is not
much of an issue with me since I don't own much that needs dry cleaning.
And most of what I do own is okay to hand wash.
Yes I know recycling and re-using aren't perfect answers- but for now,
they work for me. And so does washing bags, reusing soda bottles,
Re-using dog food and tomato cans for luminarias.
You'll notice I don't mention Plastic shopping bags- I don't use them much. I
use reusable shopping bags or try to make an effort to use them - I do pretty well. Those I do get occasionally usually go back to the store for recycling.
1- Make bell cloches and planters out of plastic bottles.
2- Make Luminas out of cans and "solig lanterns" out of Crystal Light
3- Save plastic planters to use for next year. OR donate them to
something like Sustainable Burien to pot strawberry plants in them to
give them away! (I had wished they at least used Tully's coffee cups or
something similar but hey I am shy and didn't scream Bloody murder).
4-Sell and buy used- That way no new plastic is made for the item,
including packaging.
5. I do a lot of dehydrating. To keep from using plastic bags (for my
vacuum sealer the bags come on a roll, so even if I used them I only use
what is needed) I us mason jars and my vacuum sealer has an attachment to
vacuum pack the jars. Thanks to Chile for turning me on to the
Mason Jar attachment for my food sealer!
6- Buy products that are sent responsibly- I have bought a number of
products that are sent with packaging in mind- Thanks to Beth, I have
Skoy clothes, which are fantastic and Lunchbots and Tiffens for lunches.
All these products came sent very smart with little or no plastic
involved. The Skoy clothes are fantastic! They dry well and never get
moldy which is one of the things I have against sponges! And the
lunchbots and tiffens are great to they allow me to bring food to work
for lunches with no baggies. Even my lawnmower ( a Nueton Rechargeable)
was sent with impressive packaging- No Styrofoam, minimal use of plastic
bags (for small parts etc- and then they combine the parts in one bag
rather than a bag for each part) In place of styrofoam they used cardboard.
7- Never stop trying new ideas- whether it is something simple as using
toilet paper tubes and six pack holders for starting pots, or making
cloth out of shopping bags. I am open to trying new things.

So what say you? What hints do you have for reducing plastic waste?


mudnessa said...

I am participating in fake plastic fish's plastic challenge and came to take a look at your blog and I am so going outside right now to reuse the soda bottles I have in the recycle pile as upside down planters. Just yesterday I was reading about making your own out of 5 gallon buckets but I don't have any 5 gallon buckets and I was trying to think of what I could use instead of a bucket. Bottles are perfect are you having success with them?

Robj98168 said...

Mudnessa- Some success. peppers don't seem to like hanging upside down, but tomatoes do okay in them. I wished I would have planted different types like window box romas or tumblers or robin tomatoes. Those varieties seem to be more at home in planters.