Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hopeful Things

Here are a few things that have me feeling hopeful lately. OK, so we aren't reversing global warming, or even making a dent in the mountains of plastic crap and packaging being shoved in our faces every day, but these small things tell me the message is getting through.

Crate & Barrel
featured re-usable polyester produce bags in their most recent catalog. Whoa. A major American retailer offering produce bags, not just the hippy food co-op stores? That is kind of a big effing deal. I would provide you with a link, but they SOLD OUT and are no longer featured on the website. In an online chat with a Crate & Barrel representative, I was told a larger quantity was on order that will be available in November. Said the rep: "We had no idea they'd be so popular." Woot!

Want to get your own produce bags before November? Here are a few sources:
- in NYC, the 4th Street Food Coop and Brooklyn Coop have them. I'm not sure about other places.
- Try these sellers on Etsy
- EcoBags
- Reusablebags.com (they have the same bags that were offered by Crate & Barrel)
- Make your own. Butterick has a pattern that includes several shopping bags including a produce bag, and there are also free patterns online, like this one.

Target's Home Organic Sheet Sets are packaged with very little plastic. I purchased a set recently when one of my old sheets got too soft and started to shred. And I was happy to find these sheets packaged in a little case made of the same fabric as a sheets, with a glossy paper cuff around it. The paper does have a plastic coating, but in comparison to the thick plastic bags that all the other sheets came in, this is a huge improvement. Now, why aren't ALL the sheets packaged similarly?

While window shopping in Grand Central on my lunch hour, I spotted these ceramic mugs at Tea & Honey...and they weren't packaged in a thick plastic box, as at other places. Hooray! They are called "I am NOT a paper cup" TM. They're double walled ceramic with a silicone lid; replacement silicone lids are also available. My favorite travel mug is ceramic and it is very chipped (it used to have a handle, long ago) and well used. It came from Starbucks. I've tried and tried to scratch the logo off but it won't budge, so I just suffer the shaming at indie coffee shops. I love ceramic because it doesn't impart flavor to my coffee, it insulates well, and cleans easily. And it just feels right, like a proper mug. When it breaks, I'm happy to know where to get a new one. If you can't get to Tea & Honey at Grand Central, plenty of other retailers offer it, some with more plastic packaging with others: MoMa Design Store, Target, ThinkGeek...do an online search.

Last week I refilled a bottle of liquid dish soap for the first time, at 4th Street Food Co-op. It took this long because roommates kept buying new bottles. I was using bar soap to wash dishes for a while, but found that it made the dishes slippery and easy to drop. Perhaps a different bar soap would work better. Or, I can just keep refilling my bottle at the food co-op. I'm encouraged to find more stores offering bulk items and liquid bulk items, such as soaps, oils and vinegars in particular. Liquid bulk items are a new thing for NYC.

Have you seen hopeful signs that the message about single use plastics is getting through to individuals, retailers and manufacturers? Let me know!


JenDavis said...

saw a link to your blog on fake plastic fish :-) Wholefoods in Union Square now offers bulk liquid laundry detergent. You just get your container weighed at customer service first and then fill it up.

Juli said...

Thanks for letting me know, Jen! I'm psyched that liquid bulk items are coming to NYC.

happyd said...

The reusable produce bags are so cute!!

.. but question, aren't synthetic materials like polyester made from plastic?

Love your site!!

Juli said...

HappyD- Synthetic materials like polyester are often derived from petroleum- but a durable, re-usable petroleum product is still much better than a single use petroleum product.

The produce bags I use are made from cotton.