Mar 30 2011

I don’t need no stinkin’ plastic liners [day 307]

I quit using plastic garbage bags, or any type of plastic lining in my trash cans.  Why?  I just don’t see why we need to place trash in plastic bags, taking much longer for it to decompose in a landfill.  I thought back to my kids earlier diaper days and the Diaper Genie.  I had one and used it for about a week, but I never understood why it was a good idea to turn dirty diapers into plastic sausage links.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I have, what most people consider, a very small trash can and recycling bin in my house.  They’re so small they fit under the sink cabinet.  They’re both plastic bins, making them easy to wash and they don’t leak.  Also, the small size makes them easy for my kids to empty into the outdoor containers.

I ran out of plastic liners a few months ago.  I decided to try going linerless.  It felt a little weird at first, but soon I started to wonder why I ever used plastic liners in the first place.  They really don’t do anything other than make the trash less biodegradable.  If I have some wet trash, typically food, I can place that in another piece of trash like a plastic wrapper from another piece of food.  This new system has been good.  No issues to report.  Buying things to purposely throw away is making less and less sense to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned in this process and a few tips I’ve picked up in researching this topic.

Biodegradable garbage bags. These bags cost a bit more, but if you absolutely need a trash liner, this is a good way to go.

Repurpose shopping bags. Instead of buying bags, reuse the ones you get from shopping.  They’re usually not big, but just consider it a motivation to cut down on the amount of trash you produce.  Use these for the ‘wet trash’ only when needed.

Learn what can and can’t be recycled. You would be surprised at the list of what can and can’t go into the recycling bin.  Pizza boxes?  No, because they have grease on them.  Styrofoam?  Yes, they started recycling this a couple of years ago.  I’ve found that most waste can be recycled.  We fill up our recycle bin way before the trash bin.

Separate your trash into bins. Some people have a compost-type bin for food trash, separate from the regular trash.  I have a separate bin for plastic caps so I can take them to Aveda for recycling.  I don’t do composting yet, but the change in our grocery shopping habits yield way less waste and trash.

Consider composting. I’m still considering it.  :)

Repurpose you trash.  If you need a liner for something, use a bread wrapper or potato chip bag.  You’re not adding anything to the trash and you’re not spending money buying fancy plastic liners to make your trash more attractive for the garbage truck.

Use plastic washable containers. Get rid of the metal trash cans, use small plastic ones, then you won’t need liners.

If you’re not sure about this, try it for a week.  You can always go back to using liners.  If nothing else, you’re saving money on trash.

 


Jan 27 2011

surrounded by plastic [day 247]

Today, just a small collection of odd photos.  These remind me of a joke told by Steven Wright a long time ago.  He says he owns two rare photos, one of Norman Rockwell beating a child and one of Whodini locking his keys in his car.

Photo #1: Protecting the plastic

Seriously?  We need to wrap the plastic recycling bins in plastic sheets, and then place that wastefulness in a box?  What exactly is the purpose of the plastic wrap?  Maybe they did that so we would have something to place in our new recycling bins.

Photo #2: Surrounded

This is an old photo, taken in a motel room on our way to Mexico.  Did I really need a Starbucks latte that bad?  I have my own travel cups, but instead of bringing one I wasted a waxed paper cup, a plastic lid, a cardboard hugger thing and a plastic keep-your-coffee-from-spilling stick.  My roommate had a plastic bag sitting behind the coffee, and all of this sitting next to a plastic sign saying “save our planet”.  It’s a sign to place on the bed if you don’t want them to wash the sheets.  I wanted to place it on the bed, but we were only there one night, and I’m guessing the next guest would appreciate them being washed.

Photo #3: Sustainable styrofoam?

Wow.  What were these marketing people thinking?  Sustainably grown coffee, a beautiful story of how they’re helping the environment, all neatly packaged in a styrofoam cup.  My friend took this photo while traveling on an airplane.  Not like there’s a lot of choices at 32,000 feet above the earth.

These photos are just a few reminders of our disposable society.  How long will it be before our planet looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie?  No, I don’t mean the fun futuristic ones where we all own spaceships, wear silver clothing and have intergalactic space travel.  I mean the ones where people are trying to survive because there’s nothing left.  Yes, this might sound extreme, but is it?


Oct 17 2010

flying by the seat of our pants [day 143]

I had an interesting conversation with a guy I met recently in our church group.  Curt lived in Hawaii for a long time, after living in Amarillo, Texas.  We were discussing the “green issues”, possibly prompted from my lack of paper plates and plastic utensils while entertaining a large group of people.  He said when living in Amarillo, he didn’t think much about recycling, as it was never a priority since there’s so much room for landfills.  In Hawaii, that’s not the case.  Space is limited and people living there need to generate the smallest amount of trash possible.

As a society, it seems like we fly by the seat of our pants with things like this, then when it becomes a huge problem, only then to we create awareness and try to fix it.  (Halloween costume?  Check.)  Another guy in our group, Marc, was asking how we can be proactive to the problem of homelessness, which was our main reason for meeting.  Keyword: proactive.  What does it look like to be proactive in environmental and humanitarian issues?  If I answered that in one blog post, it would take me all year to write it.  I’ll take a different approach.

Why am I talking about this today?

Lots of reasons.   Continue reading


Aug 21 2010

paper vs. plastic paper [day 85]

Paper plates.  Can you call them that anymore?  Most of them are made from paper with plastic coatings, foam or plastic.  I choose not to use them most of the time, but going camping, I figured that’s not a bad idea.  I thought back to my girl scout days and remembered a camping trip where I had a canteen and some little metal dishes in a nylon mesh bag.  We didn’t use a bunch of disposable stuff, we ate and washed our dishes.  I don’t remember it being much of a hassle.

So off to the grocery store for food.  Just for the record, I did not buy the paper plates, as that’s not on my challenge list of acceptable things to buy.   I know they make environmentally friendly paper plates, but I didn’t see any.  I thought I would just select a small pack of paper plates with no plastic coating, lining, prints or any other special features.  My thoughts?  Simple paper shouldn’t be too bad for landfills.

So here are my choices, well, I can’t call it that, it was one choice.  A 300 count pack of paper plates.  No small packs, just the jumbo size.  We got it, figuring I could bring the extras to work or use them for art projects or something.

Paper plates are not evil. I’m blogging this for a couple of reasons, not because I have disposable plate issues.  So what are the reasons?  This is shopping in general, not just paper plates.  😉

  • The paradox of choice: we have a selection of many types, but do we have a good selection?  Is there another place to shop that might have better choices?
  • Is there an alternative to what we are buying? This might not be necessary in many cases, but it’s a good thought process.  My choice is not to use paper plates because I want to minimize my use of disposable paper, plastic and foam products.  At home, I have all mismatched dishes.  I have a lot so I can entertain and still have many plates and bowls, and if one breaks, I simply buy more at the thrift store.
  • Am I willing to go without? Sometimes no, but sometimes yes.  By thinking about it, I can make better use of my money and find creative ways to not need as much stuff.

Want to know the kicker here?  A raccoon, probably the one that ate our loaf of bread, got into the paper plates and approximately 150 of them were all over the camp site.  Raccoons are evil.  😉