June 16, 2009

Basilbias- Week Number One


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 Crà¨me 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.

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