The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
August 25, 2010

Say No To Singles

My vision of a plastic-free, zero-waste world is not a singles club.  No, I’m not discriminating against uncoupled people.  But I am a bigot when it comes to the three categories of Singles products, all of which have been featured on the new Facebook Plastic Crap Wall of Shame lately.  The first two, I’ve written about extensively, and the third might surprise you.

1) Single-use Disposables

Think plastic drink cups and cup lids, plastic food containers, plastic straws, plastic packing materials and blister packs and clamshells.  Or other ridiculous disposable items, like plastic bags for umbrellas (Can you say “mold?”)

umbrella bagPhoto by Jennifer Lawlor.

or hefty bags for shoes.

shoe slickers

These are items that are used once and thrown away, or recycled in rare cases.

Several zero-waste bloggers have campaigns to reduce our consumption of single-use disposables. Lisa Borden’s Take Out Without Campaign urges people to bring their own reusble utensils, containers, mugs, and water bottles to take out and fast food restaurant and cafes.

Take Out Without

And Taina Uitto’s ReFuse challenge asks participants to upload photos of single-use plastic items they refused for inclusion in her ongoing slideshow.

ReFuse Challenge

2) Single-serving sizes

The smaller the size, the higher the packaging to product ratio. Examples include wine in individually packaged glasses, single-serve juice boxes, yogurt cups,

Le Froglet wine-in-glass

and some of the worst offenders: Individually-wrapped prunes, jelly beans…

Sunsweet individually wrapped prunes

Individually-wrapped jelly beans

and even individually packaged ice cubes! No kidding.

Ice Rocks

But how many of us think of the third category of singles?

3) Single-Purpose Items.

Across America, kitchen drawers are stuffed full of gadgets that serve one purpose and one purpose only, like saving a single piece of fruit or vegetable, for example. Linda Anderson, who writes the blog Citizen Green nominated these plastic produce savers for her monthly Stupid Plastic Crap post. Examples she cites are the tomato saver (holds one tomato) or the onion saver (holding one onion.)

tomato saver

This category also includes the avocado saver,

Avocado saver

the banana saver,

banana saver

and products like the plastic lettuce knife, which is unnecessary since lettuce can simply be torn with the hands, and the Butter Boy, a plastic gadget meant solely for buttering corn!

Butter BoyPhoto by Lisa Sharp, Retro Housewife Goes Green

Unclutter

Erin Dooland from the web site Unclutter writes a weekly segment called Unitasker Wednesday, in which she highlights the worst of single-purpose gadgets that not only waste resources but simply clutter up our lives. Among the gems she has found are the mayo knife spreader, the potato chip finger, the watermelon cooler, and my personal favorite, the Krustbuster: a hunk of plastic created specifically for taking the crust off slices of bread.  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?  If you must waste perfectly good food, at least do it with a KNIFE!

Krustbuster

BlogHer’s Melissa Ford has just posted a list of the Unitasking appliances in her home and how she decided which machines would stay and which would go.  While her list doesn’t include the cheap plastic crap I’ve described above, it does provide a process for deciding what items are truly useful and which ones are simply clutter.

What examples of unnecessary single-use, single-serving, or single-purpose items have you found? And is there another Singles category I’m missing? Now’s your turn to rant. Posting to the Plastic Crap Wall can make you feel better in the short-term, but following up with calls or letters to the companies that produce the stuff is even more important.

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52 Comments on "Say No To Singles"


Guest
Dryope
1 year 2 months ago

@Eve Just tossing out this idea- could one not just use a CLOTH bag for sticking the wet umbrella in? Just toss it in the dryer or hang it up when you get home. Carry multiples with you if you need to….

Guest

[…] Fake Plastic Fish […]

Guest
4 years 8 months ago

Yeah, I thought a bottle was a single serving. (kidding)

I love my single-purpose avocado slicer. But I also have eight 40-foot avocado trees and slice a lot of avocados.

The best way to protect your banana is to safely store it inside a peanut butter sandwich.

Guest
4 years 8 months ago

Who buys single servings of wine???

Guest
Amanda P.
4 years 8 months ago

Ok so I want to go more eco friendly and not buy this crap but that do I do with the crap I already own? It is pointless to throw it away and have it take up more landfill space. So you just committ to not buying any more? I purchased stainless steel water/juice bottles for my sons for school to stop needing to buy single serve juice boxes/pouches but they have already lost them and now I will have to purchase again. I also have gagdets I use occasionally that have accumlated over the years but again I see it pointless to toss them just to appear “greener” I think I will just committ to hang on to them and not purchase any more.

On another note – what do you all think the grocers do with the plastic bags they collect to “recycle” – I was under the impression you cannot recycle plastic grocery bags.

Guest
Plastic Crap Wall of Shame: An anti-trash page to rage and laugh about | green LA girl
4 years 8 months ago

[…] Californian’s urging all to say no not just to the bags but to all single-use items. “Say No To Singles,” urges Beth Terry, an anti-disposable plastic crusader who blogs at Fake Plastic […]

Guest
Lara S.
4 years 9 months ago

I thought the umbrella and the shoe bags were too much, but then I saw the Crustbuster. It’s a good thing that I’ve decided that in these situations where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, I’ll laugh!

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

pat, are you comparing individual cheese slices to the blocks of pre-sliced cheese you get? because they last a very long time. also, you could get your cheese sliced at the deli (and bring your own container if plausible) and dramatically reduce the amount of packaging waste, while having superior control over how much you get.

Guest
Pat
4 years 9 months ago

In this house we use very little cheese. If it weren’t for the individual wrapped cheese slices, we would waste much of the cheese brought in to the house and I refuse to waste food.

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

This is an awesome post, and I honestly never thought about a lot of this stuff! The only thing I have is the onion saver, which I bought a looong time ago. It’s true though, this stuff is totally unnecessary and just clutters up our kitchens!

As for the individually wrapped jelly beans…Wha…?

Guest
Ben F
4 years 9 months ago

While having items that are unnecessary is a bad thing from a plastic and clutter standpoint, I’m not sure that being “single-purpose” is in-and-of-itself a bad thing. Having it be made out of plastic is another issue.

But as we’re hearing, certain people love their banana keepers/protectors. And for example I have a lunch bag that is largely plastic (it was a hand-me-down) and single-purpose – it carries food to work and really has no other use; does that mean I should not have kept it? What about the ice cube trays in my freezer? They’re unavoidably (nearly) plastic and they only freeze ice. But their single-purpose existence doesn’t seem like a reason to exclude them from my kitchen items. A lawn mower only cuts grass, etc, etc, etc.

The issue seems more about reducing plastic use (and clutter) by avoiding items that don’t serve a valid purpose and/or duplicate a task that can already be performed by thing already existing in your kitchen/home/yard/car/office. Just standing up for the “little guy” (i.e., #25. Fandango’s banana protector).

Guest
Jen
4 years 9 months ago

Ok, I’m with you on this, except that I LOVE my avocado keeper. I mean, if previously I was using plastic wrap to save my avocado from the brown death, then what’s wrong with the avocado keeper? Should I throw out half an avocado every time I use half, or use an awesome gadget?

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

(I read this after just putting a slice of pizza into a “pizza keeper” tupperware container, which I bought secondhand because we seem to always have leftover pizza.) as I said on the plastic crap wall, I like the concept of the vegetable savers, since they replace disposable plastic bags, but you can just as easily use a flat plate or flat bottomed glass container. I have to say that I’m pretty sure I hadn’t thought of that until I saw these products though. they’re also not very useful because vegetables tend to vary greatly in size. and the bread crust cutter is only neat because it pinches the sides of the sandwich together to keep the contents inside (kind of like a panini), which you could accomplish with a square container that’s the right size for the bread, like a tin or glass jar, but my all means, eat the crust, too! you could use it to make bread crumbs or croutons, or mix into meatloaf. I have to admit I also bought one of those green lettuce knives (at a yard sale), we do “taco night” a lot and it seemed useful (not that the chopped lettuce ever lasts long enough in the fridge to brown, and you can rip off only the leaves you need from the head of lettuce instead of cutting it). I have this horrible attraction to green plastic kitchenware, especially if it’s vintage. I think if you cook or bake a lot there are some single purpose items that are just wonderful timesavers or much more functional than other methods, like egg yolk/white separators (made from stainless steel), which I would get behind all the way. you just have to balance out the concept of usefulness with the likelihood of actual use. “useful” extraneous crap that doesn’t get used is pretty much the opposite of useful.

oh and I’m sure you’ve mentioned individually wrapped toothpicks at some point.

twyla, I know kids are stubborn, but if you expose her to (and get her used to) some real fruit juice, she might realize that kool aid tastes like garbage and not really be too upset if you told her she’d never have it again. I see what you’re saying about the packaging (is it lined with plastic or is it only made of paper?), is making your own fruit juice out of the question? you could get an electric fruit/vegetable juicer (another single purpose item to take up space!), and a manual orange juicer with a lever arm works wonderfully (if you peel the orange first, you can eat the leftover orange. and you could peel it with a single purpose orange peeler!).

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

The Krustbuster brings back the childhood trauma my mom put me through by making me eat my bread crusts. She told me they would make my hair curly because I wanted curly hair like my best friend. It was a LIE. I feel cheated.

If she wanted me to eat my bread crusts then she should have smeared the peanut butter and jelly to the end of the slice of bread! No Krustbuster needed.

I want to add the EZ Egg Cracker. My husband hates it. You need a tool to crack an egg open?

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Single folks of the world unite against this discrimination! – What??? Oh. Never mind.
Just a few comments from the king of kitchen gadgets- the bread crust remover— R U Kidding me? Takes too much energy to use your knife???
And that Watermelon Cooler- probably the most ridiculous thing I have seen in some time.
As far as the avocado holder or tomato holder- we have this thing called a half pint jelly jar if your fruit needs a cozy. And the Banana Holder— well I am sorry but that thing looks like obscene fun. I could think of a couple of nasty things to do with it. But that is me.

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Were the single-use toothbrushes (for travel!) on your facebook page or did I see them somewhere else? Because your regular toothbrush is too burdensome to carry with you….

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Did anyone see that article on greenbiz or inhabitant recently highlighting 10 examples of excessive packaging? Almost all of them were centered around individually packed / single use items…

Guest
Stacie
4 years 9 months ago

Great post Beth! Drives me nuts that so many gorgeous, organically grown produce items are then wrapped in plastic or stored in plastic. We must rethink this and vote NO with our dollars.

Thanks!

Guest
Pheas
4 years 9 months ago

@Billie, I do exactly the same with my egg slicer! It’s also good for olives.

Guest
Eve
4 years 9 months ago

The only item I’d attempt o defend is the umbrella bag. Coming inside with a dripping umbrella just adds to the #1 cause of injury at work or shopping – slips/trips/falls. (Yeah, we don’t know how to walk). The umbrella keeps those tricky drips from getting on the floor and sending us into a literal tailspin. BUT – I reuse mine – after it’s dried out and I’m safe at home, of course. I simply tie it in a knot around the umbrella handle and have it with me for another soggy day. I think I’ve had the same bag for a year now!