topher

One of the great scourges of the earth is plastic. It’s toxic, it lasts decades if not centuries, and it’s hard to deal with. And we make LOTS of it. What to do?

Recycling

For a long time we didn’t do anything, and I felt guilty about it. I’d look at my neighbor’s blue recycling tubs out by the street and think “I really need to get some of those”. But I’m lazy. So lazy. I’d have to find out where to get them, then drive downtown and hunt for the place, etc.

Last fall I actually prayed that God would give me the impetus to get it done. About a week later there was a HUGE wind storm, you may remember it. In the morning there was a blue recycling tub on our lawn, and another in the street in front of our house. I knew they belonged to someone, so I put them both out by the street. This wasn’t trash day, and no-one else had theirs out, so I assumed the owners would come get them. No such luck. I called the recycling place, and they said I should keep them. And thus began our recycling.

The first thing I noticed right off is that we cut our trash in half. Since we were paying by the bag, there’s a savings right there. The second thing I noticed is that my kids are now rabid about recycling. They check everything, everywhere we go. If we’re looking at plastic deck chairs at Lowe’s they check and let us know. If we’re getting drinks at a restaurant, they check. They like helping to get labels off things before we put them in the bin. It’s good stuff.

Trash

My wife looked at our trash under the sink, now with no plastic in it, and thought it strange that we used plastic bags for it. Long ago we started asking for our groceries in paper instead of plastic, simply to reduce the amount we consume. So she started using the paper bags in the trash can. At first I was concerned about leakage etc. But something else my brilliant wife has been doing for a long time is putting kitty litter in the bottom of the trash. It absorbs smell, soaks up fluids in convenient clumps, and makes the trash can bottom heavy so it doesn’t tip over as easily. Brilliant!

A drag on this though, is that I was taking those paper bags and putting them in big plastic City bags. The city offers trash bins though, and this week we got ours. They’re cheaper than the plastic bags, and don’t require liners, so we just drop the paper bags right in there. Saving money AND the earth. Yee haw!

Consumption

Recyclability now plays a strong part in our purchases. Given a choice between two products, we’ll choose the one in the recyclable package, even if it costs a little more. Here are some examples:

  • Eggs: Family Fare has eggs in cardboard cartons, most places use foam. We get them from FF.
  • Butter: My wife prefers Olive Oil based “butter”, and Olivia is one of the only ones in a recyclable container.
  • Fresh Veggies: This one isn’t really a comparison so much as a note, as far as I can tell all stores plastic veggie bags are recyclable.
  • Frozen Veggies: Meijer is one of the only brands we’ve found that packages their frozen veggies in recyclable plastic bags.
  • Toilet Paper: This applies to paper towels too. They all come in vast amounts of plastic. Meijer recently started carrying the Small Steps brand of paper products, and they’ very good. Scott also has some “earth friendly” toilet paper, but it’s wrapped in un-recyclable plastic! Small steps is about a buck more, but worth it.
  • Eating out: My wife prefers take-out to eating in a restaurant, so we started paying attention to who gives food in recyclable containers. It’s NOT Russ’. πŸ™‚ Applebees is very good about it. Taco Bell wraps most things in paper, and half their plastic can be recycled. Just watch for it.
  • Chips: There aren’t really any chips sold in recyclable containers. When we really want some, we get pringles, there’s more cardboard than plastic. But this means we’re eating less chips, which is good.

I’ve gone on about this enough I think. It’s been quite a journey, and we’re enjoying it, both the money savings and the feeling of doing something good for the earth. The higher cost of some things is offset by the lower cost of trash disposal.

If you read all the way to the end of this, let me know. πŸ™‚

10 thoughts on “Plastics

  1. Read it through… sounds like what we do as well. IKEA packages their stuff quite ‘greenly’ — no packing peanuts, usually only 1 tool & a suggestion to use a hand screwdriver (instead of drill, etc.) — as I’m sure you’re all aware of in the DeRosia household!

  2. Yes read it all the way to the end. You could do one step further and start composting. This would be really great with all the worms in you yard. Of course that is an alternative to letting the girls have chickens. I am proud of you for the recycling effort. Wish I had started years earlier too.

  3. Love the story of how you got your recycling bins!

    It’s always good to hear about what other people do as far as earth-friendliness. I didn’t see a single thing in your post that is prohibitive for the common man (either timewise or costwise).

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I started recycling again when Jason and I married. The problem we have is that I have to drive it to town when we have enough, our trash company doesn’t pick up recycle. I am inspired to see contact the company and see how much their big trash barrels are so we don’t have to buy bags any more.

  5. We’ve recycled for years. It definitely does cut down on trash. I’m interested to know that for you the trash bins are cheaper. I’ve called on it a couple times and it seems like the bags are cheaper for us (or maybe I miscalculated). I probably ought to check on that again.

  6. I have read this post in its entirety. I feel like I’m ending a book report by saying that, haha. Tim and I are probably leaving the biggest footprint ever. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but we’ve never really done anything about it. I have been thinking a lot more about conserving water, though. When we have a house someday, I want to collect rain water. I suppose it’s more of a money-saving issue, though. Good post, good stuff to chew on.

  7. Made it to the end. Good efforts. Wonder if you would do a post about your motivations for “going green.”

    We have tried some things (re-usable shopping bags, recycling), but I am always clear that I do it to reduce waste and take care of / steward the earth. Not because of climate change. Or Al Gore.

  8. Great post on how you are changing. Now you should think about composting. We started doing it last year. Used the compost in our gardens this year and we’ve really reduced our trash. Pretty cool stuff.

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