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June 16, 2009

Basilbias- Week Number One

 

plasticwk1sm

Recyclable Items

To Go Cup and Top (#1)

My bestest friend surprised me with this (or rather, with the iced tea it contained) at work one morning. I normally fend off disposable cups with my thermos, but I drank from this one because it was given to me out of love.

Soy Yogurt Container (#5)

There is a long story about these on my blog, but suffice it to say I think I can cut them out.

Two Windowed Envelopes

The worst part is, one was from my “green” mutual fund.

Rice Milk Container

I’m not giving these up. I use rice milk for way too many things, and besides, TetraPaks, for all that they’re not truly recyclable, have a very minimal amount of plastic and use way less energy in shipping and storage.

Smoothie Cup and Top (#1)

See salad container below.

Non-recyclable Items

 

Salad Container (#6)

From Smart Alec’s, one of the only places near my work that has more than a single vegan option on the menu. I will not be getting their salads anymore though, and smoothies are of course not essential.

Ginger Crème Cookie Package and Tray (#6)

Consider these gone. I try to avoid anything that is overly packaged (as broken cookies taste just as good) but I bought these in a moment of desperation, as there were no other vegan cookie options…

Tofu Bag

Here to stay, as tofu is vital to my survival. I figure a bag is better than a tub at any rate.

Brown Rice Vinegar Cap

I don’t think anyone makes organic seasoned rice vinegar with a metal cap, but I’ll look into it.

Dental Floss Container

I’m proud of this one, cuz it took a lot of flossing, and I have not, historically, been a regular flosser. Maybe there’s dental floss that doesn’t come in plastic though?

Newspaper Bag

I get these once a week because I feel too sorry for the Chronicle to cancel my subscription altogether. I donate them to the dog-walking cause, so at least they’re used twice before being landfilled.

Two Nectarine Stickers

The plastic kind that tear the skin off when you try to remove them.

Tea Bag Wrapper

I drink looseleaf tea at home, but we went out to breakfast, and apparently Peet’s feels the need to individually wrap their teabags in that plasticy foil stuff.

“Organically-Grown” Produce Tape

From the Berkeley Bowl. I won’t be dissuaded from buying a certain vegetable because it’s been taped, but I have been trying to shop at the farmer’s market more to avoid silly packaging like this.

Coconut Sorbet Lid

Again, the only vegan option came with a plastic lid, but I don’t like ice cream-type products much anyway, so I don’t need to buy another one of these.

Seal from Top of Mustard Jar

I don’t know why they couldn’t just use a lid that pops up when its tampered with. But I like this brand because the jars are the perfect size and shape for spices, so I’ll probably be buying more of these.

Netting Scraps from Produce Bag Sewing

I made reusable produce bags finally, out of some mesh I got at the Depot for Creative Reuse. I was very excited about them, though I did have to throw out a few scraps.

Cereal Bag

Bob’s Red Mill seems to always package up their products, which would fit so nicely in the bulk section. I like their ten grain cereal best, but I’ve also been buying bulk cereal more often lately.

Three Spice Bags

From reorganizing my spice cabinet. I buy most spices in bulk now.

Five Straws (three not pictured)

Two from the aforementioned smoothie and iced tea, the others from a bike pub crawl (which may be why I forgot to take them…) I would like to say that I will try to order my drinks without a straw in the future, but I know that I will probably forget/feel too silly saying it.

Total number of items: 30

Total weight of plastic stash: about 7 ounces (give or take a few straws)

I live in Oakland and work in Berkeley, where there are tons of options that let you live a less plastic-intensive (and all-around more eco-friendly) lifestyle. Since I moved to California, I’ve slowly weaned myself off plastic bags, processed foods, and buying brand new items in most cases. I always take packaging into account when shopping, I buy (and actually remember to send back) Preserve toothbrushes*, I bring my lunch to work most days (where I wash and reuse the plastic cutlery,)** I make a lot of food from scratch, I carry a stainless steel thermos for tea, etc etc. And I live with roommates who, to their credit, put up with my probably annoying household purchase directives.

As I expected, however, I still generated a fair amount of plastic trash. Now that I’m actually keeping track of it though, I think it won’t be too difficult to pare down my list considerably.


*It seems that they could easily do one better than this, and make a recycled-but-permanent handle with recycled, replaceable tips. Because the handle doesn’t wear out, just the bristles…This is what I think about when I’m brushing my teeth, anyway.

**Such a great word, especially when you get to apply it ironically to things like sporks that in no way deserve its haughtiness…And yes, I know that even though we have an endless supply of plastic utensils at work, I should really just bring my own truly reusable kind. One day soon, I will remember.

Read all posts by: Basilbias



 

5 comments
Ivan Longland
Ivan Longland

I live in Thailand, the litter scourge here is plastic bags and drinking straws, they are everywhere!! Take a rucksack shopping, It's easier to carry and NO PLASTIC BAGS!!

basilbias
basilbias

I will definitely look for Eco-Dent next time I buy floss (which might be awhile-I already had a rather large plastic container of Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil floss, which, for all its new ageiness, doesn't even say if the actual floss is biodegradable.)And, although I generally avoid shopping at Whole Foods, I will try to stop by tomorrow!

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Lisa. I just saw the film Food Inc last night at the Elmwood Theater and am more committed than ever to reduce my consumption of animal products. I don't eat much meat as it is, but eggs and dairy are another story.Did you know you can buy bulk tofu from Berkeley Bowl in your own container? I do it all the time. Let me know if you want me to describe where to find it.I second Maggie on the Eco-Dent floss. The floss itself is not biodegradable, but the box is. Whole Foods.And speaking of Whole Foods, the organization I belong to, Green Sangha (http://www.greensangha.org) will be the recipient of Oakland Whole Foods's charitable donations this coming Thursday. We'll have a table there with our Rethinking Plastics display and I'll be encouraging shoppers to use the bulk bins with their own bags and containers. Maybe you could stop by if you're in the area. Our table will be there all day -- from open to close -- but I may only be there in the morning, depending on if I can take off from work or not.Anyway, I love your analysis. Sounds like you're really taking advantage of the resources we have here in the Bay Area. I wish everyone would!

me
me

Eco-dent also makes a replaceable head toothbrush: called Terradent. They argue that replacing the head is less energy intensive than mailing the toothbrushes back and forth for recycling. I don't understand why a combination of the two wouldn't be better.

Maggie
Maggie

wow, I'm really impressed!dental floss is one of those things you just have to suck up and buy. there is one brand called EcoDent that sells floss in a paper box. I got mine at Whole Foods.