Saturday, November 29, 2008
Now for the bad news: My relationship with Costco may be at an end. The night before starting this blog I went with the idea of seeing what I could get there (that I needed) without plastic. Not much as it turns out. Actually nothing, at least not this time. It is common knowledge that you can't leave a Costco without spending $100. Well this trip cost about $27 for four items: butter, half-and-half, a case of organic diced tomatoes, and Annie's Organic mac-n-cheese in a bulk box. They weren't all plastic free but I thought I did pretty well. The butter came with a thin plastic wrapping around 4 boxes and was $1.50 cheaper per box compared to the grocery store. The half-and-half has a plastic pour cap but also a fantastic price. The tomatoes are canned, so they have a plastic lining on the inside. I love cooking with canned tomatoes in the winter-- not sure what if anything I can do about that right now. The mac-n-cheese was 5 boxes of pasta with the pouches of dry cheese powder. I thought.
So the night before Thanksgiving I don't feel like cooking and get down the mac-n-cheese:
There's a strip of plastic tape holding the box closed. OK, I'll add that to my weekly tally. Then I get the box open:
AAIIIIEEE!! Those aren't the boxes! I should have looked more closely. The foil pouches have that orange cheese goo in them. Even though it is Annie's and organic, the cheese goo is not as good as powder. IMO if you are going for mac-n-cheese from a box, powder is the way to go.
Sigh. This is more plastic than I planned on.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Now I'm home checking e-mail and just heard this on the radio. In Valley Stream, Long Island-- 17 miles from my front door-- a man has lost his life. He was trampled to death by shoppers.
Today is Black Friday, and something has got to change. I don't know what else to say.
The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him. (Credit: New York Daily News)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
- Nestle Prepared Foods Company is recalling 879,565 pounds of frozen Lean Cuisine chicken meals that may contain small pieces of hard blue plastic. Yum, yum!
- Command Packaging, a leading U.S. manufacturer of plastic carry bags for retail stores and restaurants, announced it has been officially licensed by the California State Department of Conservation as an approved plastic film and bag recycling center. CEO Pete Grande: "Compared to all other packaging, these recyclables have the lowest carbon footprint, use less energy, reduced raw material and transportation costs." Seriously? Lowest carbon footprint campared to all other packaging? How about a step in the right direction towards responsible manufacturing?
- The U.S. Public Interest Research Group is urging parents to avoid buying soft plastic toys this holiday season because of a risk that the toys may contain toxic chemicals. Toys containing the chemicals, called phthalates, can no longer be manufactured or imported after February 2009, according to a product safety law that passed Congress over the summer. But U.S. PIRG says the Consumer Product Safety Commission is allowing the toy industry to circumvent the law. The agency wrote a letter last week telling manufacturers they can still sell their existing stocks of phthalate-containing toys even after the ban takes effect in February. Happy Holidays!
- Looks like Toronto is examining a bag fee similar to the one Mayor Bloomberg has proposed in NYC. The 5-cent fee proposal is an alternative to a proposal requiring a 10-cent discount for refusing plastic bags, which failed.
- And across the pond, four of UK's leading supermarket chains say they aim to halve the number of plastic bags distributed to customers by next spring. Last year the supermarkets agreed to voluntary annual 25% cuts in bag use in order to head off plastic bag charges. Bags are placed below the counter and customers are asked if they really want them. The result? One of the company heads says it is cheaper to not hand out the bags, and therefore is a good business decision.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- Wrapper for a hard sausage purchased from Costco. I think I can get sausage sans plastic at Fairway and specialty markets.
- Plastic wrapping (sadly, a LOT of it) from a curling iron purchase 3 weeks ago. I got a fancy tourmaline-coated iron that works really well. There were some similar used ones offered on Craigslist but they seemed dodgy. It also came with bubble wrap that I will re-use.
- Wrapping from a pre-cut hunk of parmesan cheese. I should be able to get parm. without plastic (and lots of other yummy yummy cheeses) from cheese mongers like Murray's or at Fairway.
- The aforementioned plastic water cup at the pizza place
- 5 bags of frozen kitchen scraps, left at Union Square's compost drop off point. I will try to re-use the bags in the future.
- An empty pocket tissue wrapper
- Kitchen plastic wrap from some bacon in my refrigerator
Now, about that kitchen plastic wrap. I've been thinking about it for a while. This particular box came from Costco about 3 years ago. It came in a double pack and I don't use it much, especially since I started reading plastic reduction blogs. Most is used to cover open containers and partially used food items in the refrigerator. Should I give it away now and find alternatives, or use it up and then find alternatives? I'm leaning toward the latter. Your comments and ideas are welcome.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
A few days ago the Take Back The Filter campaign announced its first success: beginning in January, Brita and Preserve will join forces to recycle Brita's pitcher filter cartridges. The filters can be dropped off at Whole Foods markets, or mailed to an address Brita will provide in January. So far they are only accepting pitcher filters, not refrigerator or faucet mount filters, and other large US filter manufacturers (such as Pur) don't recycle their products at all...yet.
While poking around Preserve's website, I made another exciting discovery. They aren't just recycling Brita filters! Starting in January they will take any clean plastic item made from #5 plastic for recycling. This is incredibly exciting. Many municipalities (including NYC), if they recycle plastic at all, will only accept bottles made from plastics #1 and #2. That leaves a lot of plastic out! Yogurt containers, medicine bottles, soft butter tubs, take out containers...lots of these are made from #5 plastic.
The program is called Gimme 5, and collection will also be done through Whole Foods, with a mail-in option. Please check out the website for full details!
While this news makes me very happy and excited, will it change my plastic reduction pledge? No. There is a reason why REDUCE is the first R in Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, and why recycling is last. We live in a "disposable" society, using resources that aren't disposable, on a planet that isn't replaceable. Recycling is great, but it takes a great deal of energy and resources to accomplish. Using less in the first place is the way to go.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Q: What plastic-related issues are most prevalent in the area where you live? Are you working on plastic bag bans? Bottled water campaigns? Finding plastic-free products in your area? I'd like to get a sense of the regional challenges that plastic activists face.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The recent Times article does bring up points that give me pause though:
Mr. Thrasher, the Brooklyn man battling the wad of bags under his sink, finds plastic bags ideal for, of all things, composting. He uses them to store food scraps in the freezer, then takes them once a week to his farmers’ market. With a paper bag, he said, “I’d worry it’d rot through.”
That is exactly what I do with my compost. I don't have a yard to make my own compost and an inside worm bin isn't an option right now, so it goes in the freezer and then to the community garden or Union Square. I suppose I could look for a big plastic tupperware when my under-sink pile is depleted.
On the other hand, this argument gets no traction with me:
There are, indeed, logistical issues that may make it impractical for many New Yorkers to bring their own reusable bags along when they shop. Most people walk or take the bus and subway, so they have no car trunk in which to carry a number of them. Because so many purchases are spur of the moment — as easy as spotting a storefront and remembering you need candles or toothpaste — sometimes the backpack, briefcase or humongous handbag that can store them are not handy.
How long do you have to live in New York before you learn to only shop for what you can carry, and have a bag big enough to stuff that spur of the moment purchase in? Come on. This is what we do.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
So what exactly is my reduced plastic pledge? I'm still figuring it out. For now, it is to further reduce my use of plastic of all types, particularly the use of single-use plastics. You can't really call them "disposable" when you know they will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years!
Cutting out all single-use plastics won't be possible, of course. They have become a seemingly inextricable part of modern life. But a lot of plastic is easy to avoid, as I've discovered since starting to read Beth's and other plastic reduction blogs. And there are more changes to make, a lot more.