November 19, 2007

Week 22 Results: 10.2 oz of plastic

We’re getting a cat! Okay, I’ll get on with the weekly tally. But keep in mind, we’re getting a cat!

Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 5 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).
  • Cap & sprayer from a can of CHI Infra Texture Hair Spray. As I mentioned last week, I tried to make my own hairspray out of lemons and vodka, which didn’t work too well. I don’t need hairspray very often, but it would be nice to find an alternative.
  • 1 spray pump from a spray can that had become completely corroded. The can was metal and had rusted through. Now what can I do with the plastic sprayer?
  • 1 piece of clear packing tape.
  • 1 broken juicer top. This plastic juicer sat atop a glass jar that is now broken. I have another juicer, so I don’t need this one, although it could still be used atop any glass container. Anyone want it? I’ll send it to you!
  • 1 16-oz bottle and cap of Citre Shine style and shine gel (#3 plastic.) As I wrote in my Nov 13 post, #3 plastic is PVC, once of the most toxic plastics in existence. I’ll be sending this half-full bottle along with the next item on the list back to the company with a note.
  • 1 16-oz bottle and cap of LA Looks extra superhold styling gel (#3 plastic.) Both LA Looks and Citre Shine are made by the Henkel Corporation. I am sending both of these back to the company with a letter explaining the problems of PVC and requesting that they switch to a less toxic alternative. In my research today, I discovered that the company is putting some of its product in #1 PETE containers, but other bottles are still made from #3 PVC. More details on my findings below.
  • 1 12.43-oz bottle and cap of La Paila Dulce de Leche caramel sauce (#3 plastic.) I haven’t researched this one yet. If I find that the company is still selling these in PVC containers, I’ll send this back with a note. Otherwise, I’ll take it to the toxic waste dump the next time I go.
  • 1 3.75-oz bottle and cap of Sun Luck toasted sesame seeds (#3 plastic.) Same story as the caramel sauce. Have to find out if the company is still selling these in PVC.

And that’s all the old stuff. Now for the new plastic waste.

  • 1 wrapper from a block of Springhill Cheese Company white cheddar.
  • # 1 plastic cork from a bottle of Boissonneau Chateau Moulin de Ferrand Bordeaux Blanc. I have 3 bottles left. Once they’re gone, I’ll try to find only bottles with natural cork stoppers..

That’s it for the week.

I went on a field trip to Long’s Drugs today to find out whether Citre Shine and LA Looks styling gels are still sold in #3 PVC bottles or if the company had switched to less toxic plastic. I found some mixed results:

LA Looks: the smaller bottles, 500ml and lower, are in #1 PETE bottles; however, the larger 750ml pump bottles are still #3 PVC.

Citre Shine gel still comes in #3 PVC.

I found other brands of styling gel in #3 PVC bottles, including Long’s Mega Hold styling gel, Queen Helene megahold styling gel, Dep 550ml pump (the smaller size is in #1 PETE), and La Bella 22 oz.

In the aisle of African American hair products, I found that most of the styling gels and pomades are in #5 Polypropylene containers except for the activators (Long Aid, Smooth ‘n Shine, Worlds of Curls) which are in #6 polystyrene. Polystyrene is what Styrofoam is made from, but as used in these containers, it looks just like clear PETE or PVC.

So I guess the point is that if we are going to buy products in plastic containers, the least we can do is look at the number in the triangle at the bottom of the bottle to make sure we’re using the least toxic alternative. Choose products packaged in #1, #2, #4, and #5 containers and avoid those in #3, #6, and #7 (unless the #7 is biodegradable.)

And finally, as I mentioned above, we’re getting a cat! We finally mustered up the courage today to ask our landlord if we could have a cat, and he said yes. We’re hoping to have one of these cats that our friends found in their basement and have been fostering until they are adoptable. I’m wondering if they’ll actually be able to give any of them up when the time comes. If not, we’ll find another kitty to adopt.

I visited Pet Food Express today to find out what kinds of cat necessities can be purchased plastic-free. (For example, there’s a type of cat litter made of wheat that is flushable and comes in a paper bag.) I’ve requested a cat litter box on Freecycle. Any other suggestions?

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15 years ago

Don’t know how old the cat is now, but we taught our cat to do its thing on the toilet. Not an easy task, other cats didn’t take to it, but his stuff got flushed only after we added ours to hers.

Beth Terry
16 years ago

Thanks to everyone who left cat-care info! I feel like an expecting mother and can use all the help I can get at this point.

We are seriously considering taking two kittens instead of one. I think two cats will be happier together when we are not home than one cat alone.

Ellen in Connecticut
16 years ago

hair spray – I use the suds from washing my hands, and run my hands lightly over my hair. When my nephews were spiking their hair, they used gelatin in some way, or sugar syrup. For the die-hards, perhaps. Some East Indian women use baby oil to keep down the fly-aways.

terrible person
16 years ago

I just hope it won’t bite us too much. But then, I should remember what Harry Truman said: “If you can’t stand the teeth, stay away from the kitten!”

Green Bean
16 years ago

Ditto on what some of the other readers said. You cannot flush cat poop down the toilet and are even supposed to clean it up outside and put it in the regular trash. Here’s a link.

We like the wheat litter and are still going round and round on which cat food is the most green. Enjoy your new kitten!

16 years ago

Boy, lots of issues! I have worked at a cat’s only vet for 13 years and have 9 cats of my own (now that’s crazy). There are a couple of things I would like to add to the mix.
Litter: I buy premium choice cat litter at Pet Supplies plus, in a 40 lb paper bag, but they also sell it in bulk. I would be a little cautious with the wheat litter. I know a lot of cats don’t care for it. Ditto for the shredded newspaper. Cats like a substrate that mimicks what they would use in the wild, so ideally the closest to dirt you can get. (Maybe use dirt!) Oh, lots of cats are offended by the addition of baking soda too.
Food: Canned food does not harm a cat’s teeth, and is beneficial to them in many ways. A kitten especially should be offered plenty of canned food since they have sometimes have trouble eating dry and many times don’t drink enough.
Second: if you provide a homemade diet, be sure to find out about the additional minerals that cats must have, like taurine, and include them. Check with your vet for a recipe, but remember there is a lot of cooking involved. Cats are obligate carnivores, so don’t be tempted to feed a veggie diet.
I know of a couple of cats who have gotten really bad disease from raw food.
I think there are lots of good commercial diets out there, and I find quite a few available in paper bags.
By the way, why not get 2 kittens? They are usually better cats in the long run if they can run and play and roughhouse with someone their own size! Good company for each other while you are gone too.
Sorry for the cat lecture! Nothing gets people in your business faster than saying you are getting a pet (or having a baby!).

16 years ago

Here’s a few links to “green” pet supply products and stores:

In Oakland, both Pet Vet (Broadway near 51st) and Lisa’s Passion for Pets (17th and Madison) are locally-owned independent pet supply stores. Pet Vet provides sorta-affordable vet services one day a week, too.

Kittens are babies, so you’ll have to baby-proof the home (and think about it from the perspective of an extremely active, foolhardy climber and jumper who’s still a little…clumsy). They’re so much fun, but more work than you think! :)

Pets don’t actually take a lot of stuff. I use re-glued broken bowls for cat food, larger chipped bowls for water (one per cat–they won’t share). Litter box, cat carrier (very scary!!!), collar, cardboard scratcher (plus the side of the couch–sigh), and a scattering of toys. Catnip on special occasions. Instead of cat grass, they sneak nibbles of my arugula (curses!).

Even if you buy them a cat bed, they’ll find their own places (always the warmest in the house), so I don’t bother with one anymore.

More than anything, I guess, be open to the idea that your home is about to be the cat’s home, too. They’ll figure out how they want to live in that space, and if something they’re doing causes you a problem, figure out a way to redirect their behavior into something less annoying.

One example–my cats LOVE sleeping on my laptop. Now I always put lightweight uncomfortable things (mini-stapler, etc.) on top when I turn it off. No more cat-naps on the computer!

Congratulations, and good luck!

16 years ago

How do you folks who use shredded newspaper as kitty litter dispose of it? I foster kittens and go through pounds and pounds and pounds of litter each month. I dispose of soiled litter by wrapping it in newspaper & putting it in a newspaper-lined plastic bin. I used to use flushable litters (Wheatsworth, World’s Best K Litter, etc.) but apparently it harms wildlife (saw a notice re this at a vet’s office) so I went back to nonflushable stuff.

terrible person
16 years ago

That seems like a good idea, to use newspaper as cat box filler. We certainly have enough newspaper around, with what I bring home from work, or pick up for free. I quite like the idea of having the cat go on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, or the SF Bay Guardian.

As for food, it would be cool if our fish wouldn’t just survive, but reproduce, so we could feed them to the cat. I wonder if we have any mice around.

har mar
16 years ago

yay you’re on your way to becoming a crazy cat lady (im allowed to already call you a crazy anti-bag lady, yes?).

as for the hair stuff…boyfriend buys the african american pomade Murrays and he’s used it for years and years and years. for one…it comes in a tin. for two…it’s cheap…like $2 a tin. and tin will last him months. he LOVES it. since it comes in a tin (and no excess packaging of any kind) maybe it’s an option for you?

when can i come play with your crazy anti-plastic kitten?

PS we forgot about the costco cards while you were here!

PPS..i was in oakland this weekend to go to the golden lotus for lunch. wow. so GOOD! i will most likely be there every weekend for lunch. you MUST try it.

16 years ago

I’m not a fan of flushing cat litter if you can avoid it – the more solids are in your sewage, the more chlorine the treatment plant has to use.

We used Swheat Stuff, the wheat chaff cat litter, for several years and I’m a big fan. Unfortunately, the last year we’ve had a persistent asian meal moth infestation that we finally figured out was related to the cat litter, so now we’re using plain clay litter.

The Swheat Stuff can be composted (in a separate bin from the compost you’re going to use on the food garden) and composts into a great soil additive. However, if the compost pile is damp it will smell like cat pee, and if it is dry it takes much much longer to compost. We couldn’t find a spot in our yard far enough away from the neighbors, so we gave up on that after 2 years :(

Our coop sold bulk cat food, so you may be able to find it at Rainbow that way.

16 years ago

No eco-advice, but congratulations on getting a cat! Be forewarned that kittens are very high-engery; it’ll be a lot like having a toddler in the house – you’ll have to do some babyproofing. If you can’t get one of the kittens, a full-grown cat makes a wonderful pet, too – easier, too (in my experience)

16 years ago

Congratulations on the kitty! That’s wonderful!

We used a cat litter made of recycled newspapers (Yesterday’s News) when we had a kitty… it worked great! You could scoop out the poopies and flush them, as the litter didn’t really stick to them.

Also, I have known many who simply used shredded newspaper for litter. Spread a little baking soda in the bottom, top with shredded newspaper, and walla… kitty litter box, with no packaging, and using (from the source of disposal) a piece of waste. Perhaps one of your neighbors would be willing to save their newspapers for you… or there is one at work or something.

As far as cat food, you could TRY feeding raw, but some cats are picky and won’t eat it. It would certainly have the lowest impact, as it’s not processed and then shipped, and if you found the right butcher you could avoid the plastic wrapping…

Or you could try cooking their food (same as above, but invovles cooking, and may have a better acceptance by cat.) A pressure cooker makes this easier… and quicker (stick a whole chicken in with some sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples, and cook for an hour… makes a LOT of food).

If you do feed kibble, make sure you feed a really high quality kibble like Felidae, Innova, Merrick, etc (you can find these at feed stores and specialty pet accessory stores)… higher quality kibbles have less filler. Your can will need to eat LESS of a higher quality kibble, which will mean less bags bought and thrown away, and less money spent, too.

Have fun! Cats are great!

Deb G
16 years ago

Congratulations on getting a cat! They are so much fun, just hide your yarn stash….

I love the cat litter you mentioned-works great. Might want to do some research on flushing cat litter-I think there are some issues there.

Cat food (and dog) is something I’m struggling with because it mostly comes in plastic bags to maintain the freshness. The only way to get around that is go with canned food (plastic lined containers?) which isn’t as good for their teeth or to make homemade. I haven’t gotten organized enough for that yet!