A To-Do List For Reducing Plastic.

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This Friday is World Ocean Day and to get the week going I thought I would start with a practical "what can I do post". Peter already discussed why plastic is a bad thing for the ocean. I will focus on what you can do to reduce your plastic waste and consumption. Let's face it...you and I my friend are both lazy. Potentially if you're reading this then you're an American, like I, and even lazier than the rest of the world. We need things easy and spelled out for us. So here is a list.

 

  1. No plastic grocery bags.  Obviously the easiest one and the one you already know about.  Ask for paper at the supermarket.  Better yet take your own bags.  I like the ECOBAG made from 100% recycled cotton (double bonus) for its durability and size.  Amazon has them for $8.99 a piece which is still a bet hefty.  Alternatively, most supermarket chains now offer reusable bags near thier checkouts.
  2. No plastic "poop" bags.  Biobag offers a lot of great products.  One of the best, if your a dog owner like me, is the 100% biodegradable dog waste bag.  You can pick up a pack of them at Amazon for $6.99.
  3. No plastic trash bags.  But what about my trash bags?  Biobag also offers a tall kitchen bag, so you are quickly running out of excuses.  They come in 3 gallon and 13 gallon size.  You can get them at Amazon here.
  4. No plastic produce bags.  How do keep my pound of bean sprouts, my pound of tomatoes, and lettuce separate?   Luckily Evert-Fresh makes a produce bag that is reusable, non-petroleum based, and may actually keep produce fresher longer.  I personally love the packaging with the women so happy to be holding a basket of nature's finest. You can buy them at Amazon here.* Note the comments of Beth Terry below
  5. No plastic silverware.  You work lunchroom is chock-o-block full of plastic utensils.  You could take your own for starters.  I know but you don't want to give up that spork?  I don't either.  Luckily, we don't have to.  Vargo makes a lovely field-rated titanium spork avialable at Amazon.  My only complaint you can't get a leather holster for it.  Additionally, you could get your company to switch to Biocorp's compostable cups, utensils, plates, etc.  The utensils are made up of cornstarch and surprisingly are amazing sturdy.  Biocorp makes it easy for you to order online.
  6. No plastic cup or cup lids.  I love coffee!  Sorry for the personal revelation but I really do.  The downside all those cups and plastic lids I generate from a Starbucks visit.  A Christmas or two ago my mother-in-law bought me an Oxo coffee mug.  Yes mother-in-laws can be nice and helpful.  This bad-boy is field rated (the mug not my mother-in-law although she is tough).  The Oxo Good Grips Travel Mug is the Pinzgauer of mugs.  Once the top is on the thing is 100% leakproof even after dropping it.  Hot beverages, like coffee, stay warm, like surface of the sun warm, for at least a 5-6 hours.  The price is steep, $18.99 at Amazon, but well worth the cost.
  7. No plastic water bottles.  You really don't want to be drinking out of plastic anyway.  Plastic leaches bisphenol A, a well known endocrine disrupter.  Your thinking I use a Nalgene so I'm good.  Only if you use one the "old school" opaque white pliable polycarbonate bottles.  Klean Kanteen, a great small company, makes a stainless steal alternative.  You can purchase them online and the company also supports the Breast Cancer Fund (double bonus).

Feel free to post other ideas, suggestions, and comments and I will add/alter the list.

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Point #6 is that polycarbonate water bottles leach the chemical. I re-use the 2-liter PETE (Recycle code #1) for bringing tapwater to my office, but some people think it leaches Antimony. But at 0.3-0.6ppb, it might be woo.

Aaaaaggghhh! My wife has one of those Nalgene water bottles - and she got in order to stay hydrated because she is PREGNANT WITH TWINS! And has now apparently been drinking bisphenol A with her water for the past five months!

I used the e-mail form at the Detox Nalgene site to send the company an e-mail, and I'm betting it was a little more strongly worded than your average e-mail sent through that site. Among other things I told them that if there was ANYTHING WHATSOEVER wrong with our babies when they're born next month, they'd be hearing from a lawyer....

for those less pretentious :) and with a New England home-base, Dunkin Donuts will also fill a reusable coffee mug and offer (albeit made of plastic) reusable cups - perfect for those of us who go through several iced coffees a day.

I guess if you don't have a DD near you, you'll have to settle for Starbucks.

(it's also my mission to make sure the word 'cruller' doesn't go extinct)

Psst... there's no URL for the link at #4. I clicked because I'd like to use non-petroleum-based bags for veggies.

Although, a lot of produce seems to mostly come pre-bagged, like baby carrots. And the loose greens and sprouts can be sketchier/taste funkier than the pre-bagged, and many stores don't even carry them unpackaged. But these bags would still help with things you can almost always find sold loose, like apples and tomatoes.

I've also seen corn-based plastic water bottles that claim not to leech any harmful chemicals. They may not be as sturdy as Nalgene, but they're probably lighter than stainless steel or aluminum if you're using them on walks or runs.

(Btw, in your first paragraph it should be "you're reading this," and "you're an American," if you care.)

What about reusable plastic containers, such as one might use to store some leftover food in the fridge until later or transport sandwiches (on home-baked bread, so no plastic wrapper to dispose of) into work? Surely they aren't as bad?

Good point AJS. I think the issue here is to reduce plastic consumption. The manufacturing of plastics requires petroleum products. I will try to find a good alternative.

I also recently got a Reisenthel bag which squishes compactly into its own zipper bag so I can carry it around with me.
Reusablebags.com
http://tinyurl.com/32thq5

Evert Fresh green bags ARE petroleum-based! They are made from a mixture of clay and polyethylene. I have confirmed this with the manufacturer. I would remove them from the list of items to purchase to reduce plastic consumption. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about these bags because the web site does not explicitly state that they are made from plastic. But they are!