December 3, 2007

Week 24 Results: 1.9 oz of plastic

Looks like this is my lightest week yet. But next week, the plastic weight might go up again in anticipation of the 6-month anniversary (semiversary?) of Fake Plastic Fish, which is two weeks away. There is still so much plastic in my house! I may just go through every closet, drawer, cupboard, and cubby and pull the plastic packaging off of anything I possibly can. I’d like to start out the next 6 months as cleanly as possible.

So, here’s this week’s tally:

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

  • 4 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).
  • 2 prescription bottle caps. See below.
  • Plastic bag containing a wall coat hook. Found it in the hardware drawer. Until now, never opened and used. I’m going to attach it to the side of the new bookcase I bought this weekend. More below.
  • Plastic bag from a pair of AquaJogger ankle cuffs. Okay, the plastic bag is just the tip of the plastic iceberg on this one. These ankle cuffs as well as the AquaJogger belt are made out of some kind of blue foam that helps you stay upright while doing water running in the pool. It’s actually kind of an amazing invention. But I have no idea what kind of plastic it’s made from. I almost don’t want to know. But okay, I’ll e-mail the company and ask.

Recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 2 prescription bottles (#5 plastic). I can recycle these at my office in Daly City. But first, I’m going to check and see if any veterinary offices can reuse them. Here in California, pharmacies cannot refill used prescription bottles by law. But I have heard that some vets will take them. It’s worth a shot. Reusing is always better than recycling.

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

  • 1 wrapper from a block of Spring Hill white cheddar.
  • 1 wrapper from a block of parmesan cheese.
  • 1 plastic cork from a bottle of Five Rivers Monterey County Chardonnay (2005). Won’t be buying this one again.
  • 1 plastic cap from a glass bottle of Straus organic milk.
  • 1 ziplock-type baggie that held the hardware for my new bookcase. Yes, I bought a new, locally-made wooden bookcase this weekend. We needed a solution for all the crap in our back hallway that is always precariously-balanced and threatening to collapse under its own weight. We’re in the process of kitten-proofing our house before the babies arrive! Tacking down loose cords. Getting stuff up off the floor. Trying to figure out what to do about the tempting fish tank (that holds real live fish, not fake plastic ones.) Any suggestions about areas to watch out for would be gratefully accepted!

That’s it for the week.

So, I had another “Duh!” moment this week. Plastic window envelopes contain plastic! While this should have been completely obvious, I’ve been tossing them into the recycling with the rest of the junk mail without a thought. Why? I don’t know. My brain just does that sometimes.

So I’ve started returning them from whence they came when they contain junk mail (and asking to be taken off the list.) And as for the few window envelopes that actually contain something I need, I’m going to reuse them for sending my own mail. Why not? Still, I frankly don’t understand the purpose of plastic windows. Plenty of window envelopes (like the ones from Working Assets) are made without any plastic, just an empty hole, and the mail seems to arrive in fine shape. Anyone know the purpose for the plastic window?

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8 Comments on "Week 24 Results: 1.9 oz of plastic"

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Plastic caps usually contain a small, narrow ring shaped lining made of rubber(or a soft plastic, I am really not sure).
The caps are not recyclable because the companies would have to spend alot of money (and resources)to seperate the lining and plastic of the cap as they are not made of the same type of materials/plastic. And to them, it is just not worth it.

You may have addressed this elsewhere in your blog, but why aren’t twist caps for most bottles recyclable? On close examination, they seem to be relatively simple plastic construction. You’d think somebody would solve this problem…

Envelopes with plastic windows are almost universally recyclable, so don’t anybody throw them in the trash. Here’s how it works: All of the mixed paper, junk mail, envelopes (windows and all) and other paper products (staples and all) are tossed into a big vat of hot water with a mild solvent in it and agitated (just like a humongous washing machine). The paper fibers separate from one another, making new paper pulp. Staples and other heavy foreign objects sink to the bottom and are strained out. Plastic envelope windows and other light-weight contaminants float to the top and are skimmed… Read more »
Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
> 1 plastic cork from a bottle of > Five Rivers Monterey County > Chardonnay (2005). I have got caught out with these before too. I wish there was mandatory labelling on the outside of the bottle so you knew what type of cork it was before buying! Re greaseproof paper: most commercial greaseproof paper is coated with quilon. A much healthier choice is silicone coated greaseproof paper. Either way, as far as I know, neither is recyclable/compostable. Wax paper is a completely different thing and if you use wax paper in baking the wax will melt and you will… Read more »

WOW – Can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I was just tossing those envelopes in the trash as well :S

Thanks for the heads-up on this!!!

Hi Beth Polythene Pam here. Thanks for looking at my site. In answer to your questions Greaseproof paper is a greased unbleached paper used in cooking and food storage. It used to be used before plastic. I’m afraid I have no idea what the grease used is except that is food grade. Try The link says don’t use wax paper in cooking but we have greaseproof lining paper we do use for cooking so perhaps they are not talking about quite the same thing. Try this link I have heard about baking soda as a hair wash but… Read more »

I was just thinking this same thing the other day Beth. I received a renewal notice from the Sierra Club with a plastic window but it included a note saying that the window was actually some biodegradable plant starch. Ok, I know that will never biodegrade in the landfill but at least it’s not plastic, right?

im guessing the plastic window is a security issue. i’ve often thought of that when putting my checks and bills into the mail of a windowless envelope thinking anyone can just stick their finger in the hole and see how much my check is written for and stuff. that’s my best guess.