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November 28, 2012

Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

 

Every year I visit the San Francisco Green Festival and wander up and down the aisles of vendor booths, looking for interesting plastic-free products but always finding a ton of plastic packaging.  Organic foods packaged in plastic.  Natural drinks in plastic bottles.  Compostable products shrink-wrapped in plastic.  But this year, my jaw hit the floor when I stumbled across a booth I’d never have expected to see at the Green Festival:  Ziploc.

 

Why would a brand of plastic bags have a booth at the Green Festival?  Because they have partnered with Recyclebank to reward people who pledge to take back their Ziploc bags to grocery store recycle bins to be recycled.  Notice: Ziploc is not actually taking back the bags.  They are rewarding people who go to the Ziploc page on the Recyclebank website, enter a code from the Ziploc box, and promise to take the bags back to the store.

What happens to plastic bags that are returned to grocery store recycle bins?  Most of them are made into composite lumber for outdoor decking and furniture.  When I asked the rep at the Ziploc booth what they would be recycled into, she said, “Things like park benches.”  So, in other words, Ziploc will continue to use virgin plastic resin to create new bags, and the old ones will be downcycled into products that cannot be further recycled.

Of course, my knee jerk reaction was to freak out.  Immediately, I took a picture of the booth with my phone and uploaded it to an Eco Women Facebook group I belong to, along with the comment, “Ack! Zip Lock has a booth at the Green Festival!”  (I was so frazzled, I didn’t even spell the name correctly.)  I didn’t think I even needed to explain why this was making me crazy.  I figured that in this group, it would be obvious.  And at first, the comments were what I expected:

“oy”

“ick”

“ugh”

“yuck”

And one member, Jenn Savedge from The Green Parent, wrote, “This is exactly why I stopped going to the Green Festival. I just don’t get how plastic bags can be considered green.”

I figured we would all just agree on this point and that would be the end of it.  But the next comment stopped us in our smug little tracks.  Diane Hoffmaster, who blogs at Turning the Clock Back One Ecofriendly Step At A Time, wrote something surprising:

again, you have to look at it from the average person’s perspective. Buying in bulk and putting in individual ziploc bags that you reuse is more eco friendly than buying individual bags of goldfish. same with using their reusable snack containers. Also, the SCJ company is in the process of building 2 of the largest wind turbines in the US to power their facility. When they are done those turbines will provide 100% of the electrical power used at that location. All ziploc bags are BPA and dioxin free. I would encourage people to consider that MOST people are not as green as this group and even if a ‘traditional’ company isn’t 100% green that doesnt mean they should be stomped on for what they ARE doing to help.

Stephanie Moram from Good Girl Gone Green disagreed:

I am sorry but plastic is not environmentally friendly and has no business at a green festival. No kidding the average person is not as green as this group. But if the average person keeps thinking these companies are green they wont change.

Okay, but if plastic has no business at a Green Festival — a sentiment I heartily agree with — then why are there so many food products in plastic packaging being sold there?  Why pick on Ziploc when all the food companies are doing it?  Lisa Nelsen-Woods from Condo Blues made a great point:

Hi my name is Lisa and I use Ziplock bags in my freezer because it is small. I wash and reuse them because my Husband insists we have them since the day I moved in with him. They allow us to do green things like buy in bulk and reduce waste. We had the same box for a couple of years because we use containers more often but it would be a lie to say they aren’t a tool in our low waste high cooking from scratch arsenal.

Perhaps if people eschew all the “natural” and “organic” plastic-packaged food and instead use a few Ziploc bags to buy from bulk bins, and then if they wash and reuse them over and over instead of throwing them away, Ziplocs are a greener option.  But those are a lot of if’s.  So then, the question is, does the fact that Ziploc bags can be used in a less wasteful way mean they will be used that way?  Does it make them a green product worthy of having a booth at the Green Festival?  Do most Ziploc bags get washed and reused?  My husband Michael still uses plastic bags that he washes and hangs to dry over the sink.  And there area certainly frugal people who reuse them as a way to save money.  But I’ve seen many, many more people in my own circle of family and friends (and I’m not naming names), who simply toss them in the trash.

Hold on a minute…

Getting back to the actual Ziploc booth at the Green Festival… nowhere was there information about washing and reusing Ziploc bags in the first place.  The company was not there to tout their reuse (which would reduce sales of the product) but to encourage downcycling into secondary products (which does nothing to decrease sales of plastic bags.)  What’s more, reusing plastic isn’t the healthiest thing to do in the first place.  Plastics contain all kinds of additives–even if they are BPA-free– and these additives can leach out into foods the more the plastic is subjected to stress.  So is reusing Ziploc bags even a wise thing to do?

Nancy Nathan Baldwin from Surviving and Thriving on Pennies pointed all the alternatives to plastic baggies:

Personally I them like a plague. I have avoided plastic by using glass or metal. Even my girls don’t have plastic in their lunches. Fabric bags, small mason jars and stainless steel containers. Everytime I see trash on the school grounds here, its 99% of the time ziplock bags. Makes me sick. I avoid them in the freezer by using large glass jars for things like produce and berries. My meat is wrapped in paper in 1lb sizes. I thaw one out and use 1/2 lb per meal. Put the other 1/2 lb in a glass jar in the fridge for the next meal. I can recycle the paper. I’m team Beth Terry or at least try my hardest. Its rubbing off on my kids now and I love it

And Danielle Richardet from It Starts With Me echoed Nancy’s point about Ziploc bag litter, saying:

I don’t think that plastic baggies are “green” even if they can be recycled. One thing that I can say is that from my perspective of doing many many beach cleanups, I pick up SO many zip-lock baggies on thebeach (shoot, go to a park after there’s been a picnic and you’ll be guaranteed to find a few.) I agree that some people may use them over and over again… but MOST people aren’t. Just look at the way kids throw them away when they’re finished with their lunches at school. Besides if they weren’t meant to be a disposable product they wouldn’t be sold in boxes of 100+.

Danielle sent me a bunch of photos of zip top bag litter (note that Ziploc is a trademark and all of these bags may not be actual Ziploc brand) she’s collected from the beach to prove her point.  I made them into a little slideshow:

 

So questions remain:

1) Will Ziploc’s campaign to educate consumers about recycling Ziploc bags at least help to reduce plastic pollution on the beach?

2) And is that enough to earn them the privilege of having their own booth at the Green Festival?  Or does their presence imply an endorsement of plastic bags from Green America?

3) Should big corporations (Ziploc is owned by SC Johnson) be endorsed and promoted by environmental organizations and green bloggers for the green steps they take even if their products have other negative environmental impacts or if they own other product lines that are environmentally destructive?  How can we reward companies for moving in the right direction and still push them to go further?  As Diane Hoffmaster pointed out, big corporations have a vastly larger reach than we green bloggers do.  ”I DO like to see companies like SCJ try because then they reach that 95 % of the population who wasn’t even bothering to try.”  She also pointed out other steps SC Johnson has taken to reduce its environmental impact.

This is a constant dilemma for me… wanting to show support for big companies’ green initiatives but at the same time wanting to support small, independent companies with my dollars and soap box (this blog.)  How do you think we can strike a balance?

 

 



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117 comments
Tracey TieF
Tracey TieF

Big companies, especially evil giants such as SC Johnson, don't need our support - they pay to create their own. I feel comfortable giving them a big boo hiss. 

I use ziplock bags for bringing dry goods home from my food coop and for camping. I keep washed & dried ziplocks with my camping gear. I use them because I get around on foot and by bike, and I can handle bringing glass jars and stainless steel containers for wet stuff, I can't manage without compact lightweight packaging, too.

There's a bulk food pantry that I barter with and I bring them labelled foil ziplocks and they refill them. I also struggle with big plastic 4L/gallon jugs - my supplier refills mine, and I put the hydrosols in glass gallon jugs here.

The fact that the majority of raw vegan super foods (maca, goji berry, cacao nuts, kale chips etc) come in plastic ziplock type, drives me bonkers. I do get infuriated when people seem to choose personal health over planetary health. I am working on the bulk food pantry and edging them towards compromises such as "biodegradable" zip locks and cellophane bags. I just bought these stick on metal ties to convert bags to re closables. 

So I do believe in positive compromises. I just don't think ziplock needs our support here on the cutting edge.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

SoniaGrothe
SoniaGrothe

Although, I say credit to those who find the bags useful and recycle them - you are making an effort and that is fantastic!  BUT, we need to expect more from manufacturers & corporations who are producing & profiting.

SoniaGrothe
SoniaGrothe

Recycling ziplocs sounds like a "watermelon" to me - only green on the outside.  Plastic is plastic and people attending a "green" festival expect more innovation than just re-using existing bags.

MelissaKio
MelissaKio

Ziplocks get holes in them eventually.

heidimel
heidimel

I try to carry a zip-top bag in my purse/bag so if I have leftovers somewhere, I can take them home without getting a questionable "to-go" container.  I wash and reuse most of my plastic bags at least 3 times.

jbrianagartner
jbrianagartner

I've never been to the Green Festival and to me personally it seems like a stretch. At our house when we do have to use a plastic bag I wash and reuse them (we have one of those small wooden racks to dry them on) but I would guess I am in the minority. Then again, maybe it's important to meet people where they are. If you stigmatize someone for using plastic bags as in "you'll never be green," then maybe you turn them off from the entire movement, making it seem elitist and subsequently they'll never have their "ah ha" moment.

Is there some sort of criteria business who exhibit at the Green Festival have to meet? 

Eileen05403
Eileen05403

While reusing and recycling may be better than single use I still don't think Ziplock should be at a Green festival and to add to the statement the vendors should also not be allowed to wrap their goods in plastic.  It's ridiculous.  Ugh... the money grab kills me.

Anne H
Anne H

While a Green Festival might not be the place you would expect to see Ziploc (I'm guessing since I've never been to one), I believe in baby steps for those who cannot take the giant leap. Today they're making windmills and encouraging recycling/down-cycling. Maybe these steps will encourage their competitors to do the same. Maybe they'll bring enough awareness that another 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people will start their own baby steps. Maybe tomorrow they'll take another step towards reducing or eliminating the plastic problem. I realize that's a lot of maybes, but I'm a hopeful person. 

 

When a baby learns to walk we applaud their stumbling first attempts as heroic efforts - usually accompanied with big smiles and baby talk (you know what I mean, go ahead and smile). They start out needing to hold the hands of someone who already walks well, someone to give them help and guidance and support. With each try and more encouragement they get better. They still stumble, fall and often get bumps and bruises, but they keep going until they can walk, jog and run. Is it really so different in learning anything else or making other changes in life?

 

Big companies have the R&D departments and more funding at their resources, so maybe they'll be the ones to solve the problem by coming up with the non-plastic, but safe product or find another solution we haven't even considered yet. Big corporations created the problem, let's let them pay the cost towards the solution. Sites like yours can help educate us all - I know I'm learning a lot (and thank you!). You're a beacon of light to guide the way; the "grown up hands" that give the support and guidance for both individuals and corporations.

 

I'm taking my own steps that might look like crazy giant leaps to some and baby steps to others. Each of us (individuals, corporations, towns and cities, municipalities, etc.) is in a different place in the journey, but at least we're on the same road and going in the right direction.

Gail Bennett
Gail Bennett

My name is Gail and my husband and I are both trying to live as green as possible.  Plastic drives me crazzy especially plastic that shows up on green products.  One of our problem has been elimnating plastic when it comes to freezing.  We buy what little meat we eat in bulk which we have to divde up. However I've just began reading your book and found that you can freeze stuff in glass.  When we became enlighted several years ago we immediately got rid of plastic storage containers switching to glass sets sold in stores.  We ended up with various shapes and sizes most unsackable because of lids. We  buy fresh, in tins or glass jars and save any jars with metal lids that resemble canning jars.  While making a huge crock pot of chili it occurred to me that I could use these canning jars to store my chili in the fridge instead of vaious sizes of pyrex or glsss containers.  Each jar holds at least two to three servings of chili depending on serving a cup or a bowl and it is easy to measure out. individual servings.  They take up much less space.  Once we got started we have used jars for spagatii sauce, beef stew and other things that we cook in bulk and use over the month. Another thing that we do on a weekly basis is set up soup jars..  We try to eat serving szes so if we cook extra veggies, have some left over from another dish,  or open  a can of veggies has more than two serving  we put the extra in the soup jar.  We also keep a jar for tomatoe based soup and one for meat base adding dripping, left over gravy or broth made from boiling turkey, chiken or meat bones if we have them or any extra scraps f meat. For tomato base soups we use partial jar of chili or spagatti sauce  left over that week.   At the end of the week we review what we have, add what is needed  and come up with at least two different really tasty soups.  Usually we have enough for several meals .storing what we don't eat immediatly in canning jars.  We make sure to add new stuff to the back of the cue and eat the older items first.  Its great we can look in the fridge and by counting jars can come up with the number of meals that we have for quick and easy dinners.  Since we do not need to overeat and I hate wasting food or reheating food more than once using jars has solved all of those problems for us.

 

 

Irina
Irina

I spent a fair bit of time reflecting on this post since you wrote about it Beth and was so happy to see how many different points of view came up. I agree with most of them, on both sides of the debate.

 

There are big tensions running between green intentions and green washing and handling these in the right way is important to be able to find some sort of solid ground to stand on. So I think these are the facts we can gather about Ziploc:

- they have identified environmental concern as a trend

- they have attempted to reach out to the community and tie their product in with the trend.

 

Evidently, some problems have come up:

- their bags are in no way environmental (though this may not be entirely obvious to them, I don't know...)

- people are not angered that they're trying to make it seem that they are.

 

In my opinion, there are different ways to address this, not just for Ziploc but for other similar companies as well. As people who are engaged in environmental living and constantly looking for sources of information, we (especially you Beth!) become very efficient sources of information as well. We should take these opportunities to applaud the companies for their efforts (it doesn't matter what their intentions are, we can get their attention this way) AND then politely, explain where the shortcomings still are.

This way, we can hopefully get some kind of dialogue going where both parties can walk away feeling that they have learned something. After all, no matter how much I do not support Ziploc as a company, I still don't think they're going to disappear overnight. However, I do believe that people on their end will be listening if we voice our concerns respectfully, rather than angrily (I am trying to do this better myself and it's sometimes nice to check with my boyfriend whether my messages are charged with any kind of negative undertones). In the end, it's still people listening on the other end. People work in large companies, and it's good to try to keep that kind mind.

Hopefully by doing that, these companies can acknowledge their shortcomings and work with environmental stakeholders to find solutions to problems instead of just business as usual.

 

Not sure if that made sense but in any case, I tried to put it all together somehow :)

My journey with Plastic
My journey with Plastic

I started trying to follow all your tricks soon  after I read Plastic Ocean by Capt. Charles Moore.

I have to say I was way ahead of you on the reuseable shopping bag by a few years, as well as the reuseable kleen Kanteen and coffee mug.  But your education on a variety of things is beyong my adopting yet.  I immediately stopped chewing gum!  My God!  I have adopted washing dishes, teeth, and hair with baking soda.  I now buy hard lotion in the neat little refillable tins.  I have been getting my vegies from a CSA for quite a few years, but this is seasonal here in Iowa and I would cause the woman who grows these vegetables considerable stress if I said I would not take any plastic bags.  I also shop farmer's market.  But it is impossible to get local chicken, bison, or elk that does not come in plastic.  Also, the hardest thing I find to do, is to eliminate the produce bag, because I am so used to storing my vegies in the frig in them.  I am slowing working on glass, but it is a long slog for me.  I bought 6-64 oz. mason jars ( they were wrapped in plastic when I found them, but I thought they are such a great size and they will be in my kitchen sitting there begging me to use them!  And they were a good price.)  So, I finally went to freeze my homemade turkey soup in them the other day and when I opened them I was assaulted by the stench of the plastic liner of the lid.  I could have cried.  So, is it possible to get metal lids without this plastic lining?  Are all cans lined with plastic?  Plastic is so ubiquitous.  How in the world do you manage?  I figure I can reduce my plastic use and keep working on it. But eliminate it entirely?  This seems like a Herculean task!

Connie Curtis
Connie Curtis

its just not sustainable anyway you try to sell it.. I wont use plastic because of chemicals beside the impact to the ocean and environment.. I havent gotten rid of everything but I have made a big impact in how much is in our house.. I am going to get your book very soon for more ideas

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

Oh..everyone should try and get their hands on this book...positively riveting:Green Illusions -  Ozzie Zehner

Beth...I think you will want to review this one.  Its a real eye opener on how companies greenwash, and advertising puts spin on their hidden agendas.I believe it came out in 2012. I got mine out of the library...but I will buy a copy.

NutItOut
NutItOut

When I go to a green festival I want it to show where I can strive to be. Not show destructive companies advertising they are doing a good job, with no proof, where we are just supposed to take their word for it. On top of that continue to say it is our responsibility to do something with THEIR trash. I want to see a modern way of living without trash. None of us are perfect, most of us far from it. Let it show the many options of what we can do, how far we can go with our green changes. Show companies dedicated to doing better in production, etc

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

What a fascinating thread this has turned out to be!  Turningclockbac is correct...these Green Festivals are probably thinking exactly the same thing....not everyone is willing to be an eco warrior...but they might be open to enacting one small change in their daily life. this would explain the diversity of "shades of green" promoted at Green festivals.  I can only hope though, that allowing  corporate sponsors at Green festivals does not open up the flood gates.

NutItOut
NutItOut

Allowing them means Coca Cola can be there too. After all, they do more than Ziploc. Some of their bottles are downcycled into plastic fibre, etc.. etc.. Hell, lets just let all businesses in that claim to do something. even if they are the contributors to the problem.

Therese
Therese

I've never been to the Green Festival, but this type of greenwashing is exactly what I'd expect from a "green" festival that gives out giant books and flyers with corporate (and local and small business) coupons. The bigger question is whether the main statement is even true, that ziplock bags can be usefully recycled by placing them in the bins at supermarkets meant for the store's own bags. I seem to recall articles from when the California law to mandate large grocery and pharmacies to provide a bin to return plastic bags stating that the extreme amount of mixing of plastic types that are typically recovered from these bins makes it extremely difficult to use. That may be why the only reference I can find right now is "For example, recycled bags are melded with wood shavings to make weather-resistant lumber products." from the calrecycle.ca.gov, which is also the Ziplock spokesperson's main talking point.

Marlena Bond
Marlena Bond

I don't understand how a festival is green if they use plastic packaged food, plastic trash can liners, and plastic sample cups and utensils...it's a joke. Same with 'organic' open air markets with their rolls of plastic produce bags, styrofoam shells and cups, etc. The managers and organizers of these events are complete hypocrites!! And what about all the flyers that are handed out at festivals that are produced from endangered rain forest trees...we are sending mixed messages to younger generations by not thinking 'green' initiatives through so they actually make sense.

Concrete Gardener
Concrete Gardener

Here in Cape Town, where we get charged for plastic bags, at check out people always want to add the tiny free plastic bags to be generous and help out.  If I think it's a moment where I can be heard, I explain why I don't want any plastic bags as courteously as I can. But I wish the plastic bags weren't there in the first place to make it a personal decision. 

 

Coming back to our topic, there's really no evidence that ziploc is they're "Green" in any way, shape or form. But I think your stance, Beth and others in progressive parts of the U.S., depends on your context. Personally I think it's ok for you to call ziploc out on this, because it's where you're at in being the change and making the change. It doesn't make you strident, the tone of the argument can be polite and firm- ziploc shouldn't be at an environmental conference. 

 

Here in SA, recycling would likely be a step forward (?!) for many-most people. So my starting point, and who I take issue with, is going to be different. 

kimboo
kimboo

@jbrianagartner I agree. Everyone has to start somewhere and we should encourage everyone, wherever they are in the process.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @jbrianagartner I am not advocating stigmatizing anyone for their choice of whether to use Ziploc bags or not.  But there are lots of products you or I might use that are not necessarily green and that we wouldn't expect to see at a green festival.  I might indulge in the occasional M&M from a candy dispenser as I'm walking down the street, but I wouldn't feel stigmatized because M&M isn't at the Green Festival. 

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

 @Eileen05403 Its easy to bash corporations---I know I sometimes do it. However, behind the rules and regulations of selling food in public areas, there are health code laws. I think the issue is also to find ways for venders selling  food products that are legal and safe.  Plastic wrap, clamshell styro boxes, and bags currently are the norms for shipping and selling at much lower prices. If we can negate the corporations, then we all need to overhaul THE FDA laws requiring publicly sold foods to be handled and wrapped in certain ways.  And what of wet items...creams, liquids, and all that which are sold?  Not every consumer is willing to carry their own containers and wraps to a store.  Not ever food seller is brave enough to skirt all the food loaws in place.  We are a litigious society...just one stale, raw, or poisoned product  serves the lawyers & media much fodder  , and the companies  being sued, great harm.  There are different shades of "green" and all vendors as well as all customers at a Green festival come in all kinds of Green.  I don't have one neat and tidy solution, but having given this topic a great deal opf thought, I can say, I cannot criticise anyone for trying just a little bit more, no matter how pale a "green" they might be.

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

I agree with you that we should use these types of situations as a springboard for discussion, and have a civil dialogue with companies such as Ziploc. They may be green-washing, or they may be realizing that sooner or later, change has to occur at the corporate level. We'll never know until we start the conversation.

NutItOut
NutItOut

I don't think there is any way to applaud this. Companies are to be applauded where their efforts are greener but in this situation it is not the case, or the place.

This is Ziploc at a green festival. Technically it should be Recyclebank there.

Ziploc have in no way done anything "green". They do business as usual. Here just plastered their name with a company that devises ways to deal with trash, and probably paid a sum for the privilege . Their product is unlikely to be recycled. There is no indication that it will or whether there will be a progress report or follow up. It is just asking people to agree online to "recycle" so they can get discounts on new stuff whether they do so or not.

We all know consumerism is the biggest problem. Buy. buy, buy.

So not only is it saying you can buy more but the bags will only be recycled if the customer does something about it.

This just makes the mindless masses go to the store and say "Oh, I saw Ziploc at the green show, I should get some of those. It's the green thing to do." Some will even take some bags back to the store so they can get "their Ziploc discount" whether they need the product or not.

Clever advertising. I'm not angry with Ziploc. These companies will do these tricks wherever they can.

I think I can be angry at the organizers who allow them to be at a green festival. Sounds like money again.

 

 

Irina
Irina

 @My journey with Plastic I'd love to know the answer to this as well! After reading through a bunch of the comments below I was thinking about saving my glass containers and using them to freeze stuff but all the lids are plastic-lined. And it seems silly to go out and buy some trendy (albeit beautiful) mason jars, when I have tons of glass containers in my recycling bin already. :-/

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @urbanwoodswalker I do have that book.  In fact, I interviewed Ozzie about plastic for my own book.  We had a nice breakfast chat back in 2011, and I was excited when the book finally came out.  I have skimmed it, but I haven't had time to really sit down with it.  I lent it to a friend, who said that he found some of the data to be incorrect or out of date.  My friend is a solar power advocate, so he didn't care for the book, but I loved the emphasis on reducing consumption.

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

 @urbanwoodswalker Thanks for letting us know about this book. It does sound like a must-read for environmentalists. Unfortunately, our library system doesn't have it yet and I do like to test-drive the books before I buy them (I have to really love a book to buy it now--one of my new steps to curb the acquisitions in our house...we are all bookworms!), so I will scout around a bit.

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

I think we all have to be more constructive about these issues, and not be so quick  to generalize.    There is good and bad to everything...Yin and Yang so to speak. Ask any Central American, African,  living in an impoverished rural region with little to no resources what he prefers to drink...tainted water, or a plastic bottle of Coke.  Its Coke.  In 3rd world countries...plastics have helped in some ways...but of course they destroy in easily understood other ways too.    I really feel we need to get the public more involved with the corporations....we need to let them know we are willing to help them come up with real solutions....and see them as not strictly "bad" or "good"     Unfortunately often corporations keep doing what they do unless we call them out. we need to get louder, bigger, and much more political.  Now, as to the SF Green Festival...I still think they could cordon off the corporations in a separate grouping...maybe even a separate room.... Beth...have you found a contact person at that Green festival we all could individually contact?    They need to hear all OUR constructive criticisms.

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

 @urbanwoodswalker I love this concept of many "shades of green." I think that one of the biggest obstacles for the environmental movement today is the resistance and hostility from those who aren't green (yet?) being "told" what to do and how to live--a sort of moral superiority in "I'm greener than you are!" You're right that there are indeed many shades of green, and even if I think of myself as "deeply green" (forest green?), I still have room for improvement. You just gave me a great idea to explore for a post, so thank you!

NutItOut
NutItOut

Apologies for the sarcasm

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

Depends on where YOU LIVE  In the Chicago Illinois area, all large grocery chain stores, as well as all Targets have bins for plastic film/bag recycling.  the mixed plastics are baled and most likely shipped via returning cargo ships BACK TO china.   These ships are the very same to bring back those huge containers of Chinese imported 'goods" we "all" seem to clamor for in this country.   The ships used to go back home empty...after dumping their loads in our harbors...but now they are refilled with all kinds of materials that will be recycled.  Where does China get all the raw  materials to keep producing so much stuff for export?  we ship back steel, iron, metals, computers, plastics, and so much more.   But get this...China is starting to deny entry of garbage ships .  They turned away 10 ships of England's garbage and England, who doe no recycling on the Island of Great Britain, was shocked, as they had no where to dump all the unwanted trash!  I'd say..England...learn to start being more careful with your consumption, and recycle at home!The mixed plastics are cleaned and melted ...they pelletised for selling to resin makers for not only for synthetic lumber, but playground equipment. According to the American Plastic Bag Association.The plastic bag/film Industry is pairing with the recycling industry to create more avenues for reUSE...but of course, unless there is profit...they don't do it.   I went for at least a year doubting that the film collection bins were honest attempts...I thought the stores just did it to create a good will with consumers...but in reality just tossed them all out in the back in the dumpsters.   but since Trader Joe's and Whole foods  is doing it along with so many others in our area...I just have to believe they are making honest attempts for all those mixed films and bags.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

 @urbanwoodswalker  @Eileen05403 Fortunately, at the San Francisco Green Festival, the food that is served to the public comes in compostable foodware and gets composted after the event.  But that's because San Francisco has the composting infrastructure in place, and businesses are actually required to compost... it's not optional.  Still, I bring my own containers and mug to avoid anything disposable.  

 

I'm not criticizing anymore for trying to be a bit more green, but the SF Green Festival is supposed to showcase what is possible, and to promote Ziploc shows a lack of vision, in my opinion.

Eileen05403
Eileen05403

 @urbanwoodswalker

 So true.  It's easy for me to say that without offering a solution.  I do carry my own containers and I do get weird looks and people get annoyed.  Even at our local farmers market I have to stop them and say... oh wait can you put that in this little muslin bag instead of the plastic one please, and when I brought "the little muslin bag" to the grocery store I confused the cashier... really? Hi this is a bag.  It's just like the plastic ones only it's made from material.  Yes I realize the scales are tiered to the plastic ones, I will the pay the difference it's only a few pennies... thanks.  No I don't want a plastic bag for the muslin bag thank you. :)  I have been working on getting my family more "Green" for about 3 years and we still have a long, long, way to go.  I also agree that the FDA needs a major overhaul.

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

 @My journey with Plastic Exactly.  If you have something at home...its not "green" to toss it out and buy something else new.  Because EVERYTHING takes energy and resources to manufacture, ship, etc.  Use your glass mason jars.  Use what you have.  Don't feel bad or guilty about it. Listen...consumerism has a great deal to do with all this ecological mess. 

 

As for the mason jars....I am old enough to remember those non plastic lined jar lids.  They corroded, and leeched toxic metals too after a while.  Canning tomatoes, pickles, etc...would corrode the inner tops.  Glass lids are excellent... but hard to come by.Here is a green solution...maybe a canning jar company should start manufacturing a non- plastic / non- corrosive replacement lid.   If enough consumers ask for it loudly...someone will do it.  The best were the old glass fitted lids. You would just get replacement rubber gaskets.  Don't know if these are still available... as I don't can.  My grandmother did on her farm back in  the 1950s.

 

 

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

 @BethTerry

We live in a such a fast paced world...no doubt something is "out of date" as its published....but this book was published in 2012...LOL.  Its a big book--- .  Pick a  chapter ...its all rich and you can read out of sequence...and the main ideas might shock some.   The author is brilliant...I hope to hear him speak someday...perhaps a Ted talk or something.Probably the most import book I have ever read.    Yes...I mean that. Puts EVERYTHING into perspective.

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

 @Joyfully Green Our library is part of a massive ranging inter library loan system...and if they do not have a book, they can order it ...they just let me know via internet.  In fact...I order most of my books through the internet now...only going to the library to pick up the "hold" orders.   Did you know that you can also ask a library to buy a book (or DVD, CD)  for their shelves?  On 2 occasions, I went over to the librarian in charge of ordering and told her why a certain item should be purchased...and she did it...even notifying when it came in so I could take it out!Librarians are very willing to order books on enviromentalism and green topics. 

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

 @Joyfully Green You are welcome Joyfully GreenPlease post a link to your blog when you write it.    I think the possibly of infusing green into society happens in many ways..a teeny tiny trickle is better then nothing.  I hardly think shaming or guilting  people into going greener is the most successful move...actually it can backfire. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

Thanks.  I was getting a little worried.  :-)  But I definitely get your point.  There has to be a line drawn somewhere.

NutItOut
NutItOut

 @urbanwoodswalker Ziploc or any other company's support of a recycling co. is not so green as they would have people believe. It is like a person giving a regular donation to charity and getting a badge to say they support. For example if you donate $100 a year to animal welfare you can wear a badge saying "I'm helping the animals" but reality is $100 does not go very far. If you are one of many average people doing the same it will but if you are in the business of intensive farming them, actually causing distress in the first place, your help is only a marketing ploy like the above company.

A friend of mine has worked for the animal farm industry for years. Cattle, sheep and pigs. He has experienced both free-range and intensive farms, obviously preferring to work on the free-range. His short stints on intensive farms have been when money is short rather than choice and he's tried his best to encourage change especially where he's seen obvious short comings. One of the worst offenders for intensive pig farming he's worked for actually donates yearly to our animal protection society. The very people in charge of animal welfare are collecting bonuses instead of blowing the whistle. He couldn't stand working for this place when he witnessed this but the many foreign workers getting a job there don't care.

Another friend has worked in shipping for many years, as has my father. The dumping of waste from ships has long been the "standard procedure". The number of ships carrying raw materials, oil and waste has increased dramatically over the last 20-30 years. The problem with waste ships is they are almost certainly going to "leak". Most of them do this intentionally and it's all hush hush. Some waste ships are already just going out dumping and going back as for their waste that's what they have always done - no accountability. We are seeing more and more ships being refused a landing because the type of waste they are transporting needs to be accounted for (this is a good thing but not an end solution). It needs a drop zone and fewer countries want to take more rubbish.

The thing is, it is called OUR waste, rather than the company who made it. WE throw it away and so WE pay for the shipping and recycling (if any) expenses. No company producing plastic is being forced to pay anything.

So a company can say they are being green by teaming up with a recycling company? They should at the very least be made to do this anyway. At least some accountability of the tonnage they produce should be in place.

The answer in the short term is to use less. So production becomes less. Then insist on some accountability. With reduced sales and more expenses the market will change. The companies affected will find something else to make profit out of if they can't work another scam.

Becoming "friends" with a recycling company does not entitle Ziploc to be at a green festival. They are a company that causes environmental concern.

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

Again, my appologies...I cannot figure out HOW to keep all my paragraphs from running all  together---- this is driving me CRAZY

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

This is an excellent article about food storage in the various kinds of glass canning jars...I am learning a lot this morning!  I hope its helpful to all of you too.  http:www.pickyourown.org/canningjars.htmExcuse me for getting carried away on this...the thread is off course with all this talk of glass jars...I promise to stop now!  :-)

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

This is good:  try History of Weck canning jars from Kaufman Mercantilethere is some interesting info about the glass topped jars...which are used more in Europe than here.  they have not been deemed "safe" by our own FDA ONLY because they have not been tested.  I go with these...and the rubber seems to be real. 

urbanwoodswalker
urbanwoodswalker

Oh here are a few links... I wanted to share along with my last comments above:

 

Please google history of the canning jar.  wikipedia has a great article...but Livefyre doesn't allow me to "paste" the link here.  thousands of people used to die from food poisoning....the canning jar...with all its various patents really saved the day.  What you might actually want to use is the "Kilner jar....you can google that and come up with loads on Amazon.  the "Kilner" style is sold everywhere (glass lid, and metal wire handle that seals it). However, ":rubber" nowadays is synthetic...and a form of petroleum based plastic.  Just like most of our shoes...the soles are "synthetic" rubber.  Even on dress shoes!  Pretty much all rubber nowadays is 100%  plastic.Anyways...they say the Kilner style is not as safe as the ball jar seal IF you can / store wet foods.  Its very easy to bash products...but learning the history of how these patents came to be is important, and can help you make wise consumer choices.

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

 @urbanwoodswalker Thanks. I also left you a long reply at my blog--not sure if you get notified by Typepad when there's a response for you (I guess I should look into installing the livefyre system!), but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your thoughtful response.

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

 @urbanwoodswalker Yes, we have that county-wide library system as well, and I do the same thing with ordering books to put on hold and picking them up. I meant that our whole county system doesn't have the book in its database yet (at any of the libraries). I guess it is very new? But that is a good suggestion about having the librarian order the book for their shelves--thanks!

Joyfully Green
Joyfully Green

 @urbanwoodswalker I agree with you that this discussion is fascinating, which probably explains why I just wrote a longer-than-usual post about it. Thank you again urbanwoodswalker, and Beth Terry for launching the topic, and everybody else who is taking part in this dialogue. It keeps giving me brand-new ideas! If we can take these discussions and put them to good use beyond this forum, then that is truly an amazing result. As you requested, urbanwoodswalker, here is the link to my post: http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2012/12/the-many-shades-of-green.html 

Of course, I welcome ongoing discussion there as well!

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