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?
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.
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!
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’. 🙂 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. 🙂