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Blogging about giving up single use disposable plastic


Faithr
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Hi all.  

 

I am blogging about giving up single use disposable plastic which is a huge pollution problem that the world has not really owned up to yet.  I am trying to do my little part to make people aware of the problem.  So beginning today and all through Lent, I am blogging about practical ways to avoid plastic.  Being the well meaning (usually) but ditzy soul that I am, it is kind of like giving-up-plastic-for-dummies!  That's the level that I function at, LOL.  Anyway, I am calling it "Slaying the Plastic Dragon."  If you are interested please visit my blog.  What i would love to do is to start a conversation about how to go about this and get tips, advice, etc on doing this frugally and practically, especially for busy families who really don't have time to spend to sleuth around and find alternatives.  A lot of this overlaps with zero waste people whose goal is to reduce their landfill contributions as much as possible.  Please post at my blog so all the info is in one place.

 

My blog link is below in my signature.

 

Thank you so much!

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No ideas for your blog, but this has just become law in Colombia, with regard to plastic bags in stores. I am not sure about the details, whether it only applies to large bags, or small bags, or all bags.  I have not run into this yet, but a few weeks ago Stepson and his wife were in a store on the other side of town and they had to buy a (non plastic) reusable bag. The store where I used to do most of our grocery shopping has a sign in front of the door now, about this. So far, I haven't run into it, in the store where I now do almost all of our grocery shopping, but I expect in the future they will implement this, when they run out of the plastic bags they already have. This is a new, National law, here in Colombia.  We reuse the plastic bags, to line wastebaskets, for the trash, etc., so it is not like we are throwing them out after one use, but yes, we do recognize the impact of plastic on the environment. GL with your blog!

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Yes, different places are trying different ways to combat the problem.  Some places outlaw them and others put a small fee on using them.  Both seem to be successful at reducing plastic bag use.  Unfortunately, here in my state of Virginia, we have not had much success in getting legislation through.  Congrats to Colombia for being smart!

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We will need to remember to take bags with us, when we go shopping.  That will lower "impulse" shopping when we do not have bags with us. We now have 2 reusable bags.  One they bought and one from the company Stepson works for.  But they are pretty small, so if we bought something large or a lot of little things, they wouldn't fit into the 2 bags we have at this time. 

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The remembering to bring the bags with you is hard! The best thing is to just keep some in your car. I bet as the law goes into effect there will be many opportunities to get more reusable bags. Here's a way to make reusable bags out of t-shirts. http://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/

I keep a reusable bag in my purse at all times. I haven't used a disposable plastic bag in I don't know how many years. It's not hard to get used to.

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I keep reusable bags in my car and a small foldable bag in my purse.

And if I forget my bags, I can always pick up a cardboard box at the store to carry my groceries to the car.

 

Now, the harder change is not using ziploc bags! Because sometimes my snack (nuts, apple slices) would not fit into my purse if I put them into a reusable glass container. I try, but admit to sometimes still using ziploc bags.

I am good about rinsing and reusing the larger ones (quart, gallon), but not so much about small ones.

 

OTOH, I found that many groceries now come in ziploc packages: rice, lentils, dried fruit. I rinse and save those to be reused.

Edited by regentrude
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for carrying snacks without ziplocs, we are using 4 oz glass jelly jars or the childrens wide mouth thermos containers if we don't reuse some container from the grocery store.

 

I have one small basket for small produce that I unload and reload to check out.

 

My next project for a long ride is to crochet a Euro style shopping bag. Its coates and clark color crochet book 113 p29, but instructions are online for this and many other designs at tipnut dot com

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I've gotten better with the bags.  I keep a bunch in the car.  Don't have a purse, but generally keeping them in the car works.  Although I do still sometimes get some at the store because I use them for cat litter and my gross bathroom personal trash.  Haven't found a better solution to that (and frankly don't want to so don't suggest it...no I am not going to scoop that right into the regular kitchen trash or outdoor trash which is far from the house). 

 

Can't find an alternative to plastic containers for DH's lunch.  They are reusable though.  Tried glass, but he burned himself and dropped soup on the floor at work.  So he wasn't so amused and asked me not to give him glass anymore.

 

Water bottles don't come up much.  I have some reusable ones that we use when needed.  Tried metal...hate those.  Won't try glass after seeing another kid drop it at choir (it smashed into a zillion shards when dropped on the floor and they weren't too amused there). 

 

I only use ziploc for the freezer.  I reuse the ones that I pack stuff that isn't too gross into them such as vegetables. 

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Thanks for the reminders, Faithr. I'm a human on the earth too and want to do better for my part. When I was little there were always commercials on TV about Smokey the Bear, water pollution, litter, and later, recycling. I don't watch TV anymore but I'm pretty sure these types of commercials or public service messages are not being broadcast.

 

It seems to me that the respect for Earth has gotten very low, I mean besides corporate waste and pollution, just average people seem to no longer care. I don't like to think that it is that way but there is so much litter and trash along the roads. Even going for a walk in the park we see straws, paper and styrofoam cups, etc. strewn about.

 

I am interested in curbing our plastic use. Due to legalities, in most places in the U.S., if you purchased something from a store in a container in bulk, you cannot take the same container back to the place of purchase to have it refilled. Maybe some businesses allow it, but I don't think it is legal.  :cursing: 

Sorry to de-rail your thread.

 

 

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Thanks for the reminders, Faithr. I'm a human on the earth too and want to do better for my part. When I was little there were always commercials on TV about Smokey the Bear, water pollution, litter, and later, recycling. I don't watch TV anymore but I'm pretty sure these types of commercials or public service messages are not being broadcast.

 

It seems to me that the respect for Earth has gotten very low, I mean besides corporate waste and pollution, just average people seem to no longer care. I don't like to think that it is that way but there is so much litter and trash along the roads. Even going for a walk in the park we see straws, paper and styrofoam cups, etc. strewn about.

 

I am interested in curbing our plastic use. Due to legalities, in most places in the U.S., if you purchased something from a store in a container in bulk, you cannot take the same container back to the place of purchase to have it refilled. Maybe some businesses allow it, but I don't think it is legal.  :cursing: 

Sorry to de-rail your thread.

I know what you mean!  Why isn't there more of a grassroots groundswell?  I think because everything has become so polemical.  But also, it is overwhelming.  It truly is.  That is why I want to get really practical and try to make steady progress via baby steps, so that more people, like myself, are aware and realize they can take some action. Even if someone gives up plastic bags 90% of the time, that's helpful, you know.  Every little bit helps.

 

As for the bulk stuff.  I think you can bring your own bags and containers you can buy stuff in bulk (I mean things that are loose in barrels and the like).  But maybe that varies from state to state her in the U.S.  Not sure about other countries.  

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Shopping in bulk with your own clean container is legal in the US unless your state or local health inspector stops it. Stores with concerns about contamination can (and many do) use gravity-fed bins like this for dry goods.

 

I'm using Bea Johnson's shopping method (though I don't live in crunchy California and can't get as many things in bulk) and started subscribing to a pick-up compost service (after failing at composting at home). Fortunately, our city recycles quite a bit now, but even our recycling is reduced somewhat. We're now down to about a gallon of trash a week, except the kitty litter.

Edited by whitehawk
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Shopping in bulk with your own clean container is legal in the US unless your state or local health inspector stops it. Stores with concerns about contamination can (and many do) use gravity-fed bins like this for dry goods.

 

I'm using Bea Johnson's shopping method (though I don't live in crunchy California and can't get as many things in bulk) and started subscribing to a pick-up compost service (after failing at composting at home). Fortunately, our city recycles quite a bit now, but even our recycling is reduced somewhat. We're now down to about a gallon of trash a week, except the kitty litter.

I've found those types of bulk food dispensers in both Whole Foods and Harris Teeter.  WF has a much bigger selection of items though.  The Fresh Market, which is a newer store near me, has bulk coffee in big barrels.  They actually give you plain paper bags to use for the coffee which is very nice!  Harris Teeter has bread rolls you can buy in bulk and they also supply paper sacks.  

 

I have to check out Bea Johnson's method!!! Thanks!

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I love my Trader Joe's insulated grocery bags. They can fit so much into them and they weren't super expensive either. I use them for my shopping. It was a hard habit to get into, but now I make a point to bring my bags out to the car once I've emptied them and they're always in there in case of an impromptu trip. 

 

In our state, we get a discount for bringing our own bags and some stores really make a point to encourage it. One of the grocery stores I frequent, donates the money they discount to the food bank and they have a huge "thermometer" on the wall letting everyone know how close they are to the goal. 

 

It also helps that the supermarket that still offers plastic bags has changed the formula for the bags and they break if there's anything heavy or with a corner in the bag. So they're so frustrating to use, you do not want to forget your reusable ones!

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I am interested in curbing our plastic use. Due to legalities, in most places in the U.S., if you purchased something from a store in a container in bulk, you cannot take the same container back to the place of purchase to have it refilled. Maybe some businesses allow it, but I don't think it is legal. :cursing:

Sorry to de-rail your thread.

Huh? You can definitely take your own containers to refill. Dry goods of all kinds are easy to find in bulk, and natural foods stores have everything from shampoo to dish soap to olive oil to you name it in bulk. Bringing your own container is expected, though not mandatory.

 

Bring your container to the cashier to have it weighed before filling it so you don't pay for the container weight.

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Huh? You can definitely take your own containers to refill. Dry goods of all kinds are easy to find in bulk, and natural foods stores have everything from shampoo to dish soap to olive oil to you name it in bulk. Bringing your own container is expected, though not mandatory.

 

Bring your container to the cashier to have it weighed before filling it so you don't pay for the container weight.

It's not universal. A lot of places do not have this yet. I know of one store (sort of) convenient to me that allows customers to bring in a container, get the tare weight, and fill it with bulk goods. There are other stores that permit me to use my cloth cotten bags for produce or bulk goods, but they have no such thing for liquids.

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It's not universal. A lot of places do not have this yet. I know of one store (sort of) convenient to me that allows customers to bring in a container, get the tare weight, and fill it with bulk goods. There are other stores that permit me to use my cloth cotten bags for produce or bulk goods, but they have no such thing for liquids.

Wow, we've done this for over 20 years, everywhere we've lived. I'm surprised. :(

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Shopping in bulk with your own clean container is legal in the US unless your state or local health inspector stops it. Stores with concerns about contamination can (and many do) use gravity-fed bins like this for dry goods.

 

I'm using Bea Johnson's shopping method (though I don't live in crunchy California and can't get as many things in bulk) and started subscribing to a pick-up compost service (after failing at composting at home). Fortunately, our city recycles quite a bit now, but even our recycling is reduced somewhat. We're now down to about a gallon of trash a week, except the kitty litter.

 

Sounds lovely, but I think the 200 mile roundtrip to the nearest Whole Foods that sells groceries in bulk will nix the environmental gains for us.

 

How can one fail at composting? If it sits, it composts.

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Huh? You can definitely take your own containers to refill. Dry goods of all kinds are easy to find in bulk, and natural foods stores have everything from shampoo to dish soap to olive oil to you name it in bulk. 

 

Sorry, but "easy to find" does not apply everywhere. 

Even the Health Food store here (small town in conservative Midwest) does not sell grains in bulk - let alone toiletries.

None of the traditional supermarkets do either.

Edited by regentrude
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I wish more stores in the US would follow some European stores' example, and that of Aldi in the US. Without government intervention. In Italy, for example, either you bring your own or you pay for a biodegradable one at a price large enough for you to notice (15 cents I think). (It's probably a law, don't know). At Aldi, you bring your own or you don't get a bag, but you get the fastest checkout ever.

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Sorry, but "easy to find" does not apply everywhere.

Even the Health Food store here (small town in conservative Midwest) does not sell grains in bulk - let alone toiletries.

None of the traditional supermarkets do either.

I agree. If I drive out of my way I can get bulk grains, but nowhere can I get bulk toiletries that I know of. And you have to use their bag. I guess you could save it from visit to visit if you didn't break it in the interim.

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Shopping bags are easy peasy. The bag tax has really helped everyone here. Seriously, I know that most people don't like the idea of it, but it has radically changed the behavior of the stores and the shoppers. And for the half a dozen times a year I find myself without a bag, I just pony up the 5 cents.

 

Giving up every single thing packaged in plastic... my hat is off to anyone who manages that. Because... wow. I mean, I could absolutely feed myself that way... but in a world without berries, would I even want to?

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How can one fail at composting? If it sits, it composts.

 

I managed to kill off two bins of worms (one via overfeeding because they weren't enough to handle our scraps, one via neglect) and never got the right balance in the yard bin to get things to break down in a timely way (so that we could use it and not have it overflowing).

:/

But now it's carted off to an industrial facility each week, so we can include even bones and other food scraps that are not recommended for home composting.

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Has anyone found a good substitute for thin plastic produce bags for lettuce and other greens? I've given up most plastics but this is one area where I have not found a decent alternative. 

 

And I agree about packaging--so much comes in plastic, it's nearly impossible to avoid.

 

Amy

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I managed to kill off two bins of worms (one via overfeeding because they weren't enough to handle our scraps, one via neglect) and never got the right balance in the yard bin to get things to break down in a timely way (so that we could use it and not have it overflowing).

:/

But now it's carted off to an industrial facility each week, so we can include even bones and other food scraps that are not recommended for home composting.

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I managed to kill off two bins of worms (one via overfeeding because they weren't enough to handle our scraps, one via neglect) and never got the right balance in the yard bin to get things to break down in a timely way (so that we could use it and not have it overflowing).

:/

But now it's carted off to an industrial facility each week, so we can include even bones and other food scraps that are not recommended for home composting.

If you are able to put the food waste (excepting bones etc) into contact with the soil, nature will take its course without intervention.
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Giving up every single thing packaged in plastic... my hat is off to anyone who manages that. Because... wow. I mean, I could absolutely feed myself that way... but in a world without berries, would I even want to?

 

In the interest of sanity, I've decided not to count things that I can return to the farmer for reuse. Here, that includes egg cartons, plus the plastic clamshells for strawberries, mushrooms and hydroponic lettuce. I'm trying to grown my own cauliflower, because that's always in plastic wrap here; usually we've been doing without. My Whole Foods is cool with people taking grapes out of the plastic bags and putting them in our own cloth bags (I asked)--preferable because then we get the right amount, anyway. I think some other zero-wasters may have similar work-arounds.

 

But yeah, some people can get farther than others, just depending on where they live. I don't think  we'll ever be a family that does a quart jar for trash for the year and calls it good--especially with visitors. Seeing progress feels good, though. If we didn't have the cat, we could go... oh, probably two months without putting the trash at the curb. And that's not from any really drastic changes.

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Giving up every single thing packaged in plastic... my hat is off to anyone who manages that. Because... wow. I mean, I could absolutely feed myself that way... but in a world without berries, would I even want to?

 

There are so few things not packaged that this would be nearly impossible.  Even produce.  In fact I went out tonight to get produce.  Not one thing wasn't packaged.

 

And yeah sure we have Whole Foods, but ya know I don't want to spend my WHOLE PAYCHECK to go there.  Not to mention they've been accused of, and admitted to, price gauging. 

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I don't think it is possible to give up every single thing, at least not right now.  But I think if people started to speak out it could help.  The amount of unnecessary plastic is mind boggling!  I think we all just do what we can in the period of life where we are.  But it would be good to talk to store managers, write letters, attend community meetings, whatever one can do, to make the problem more well known.   

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Twenty days a month, I live in my RV because I work out of town. Those plastic bags I get from WalMart I reuse to put toilet paper in. My RV is a smaller one and toilet paper tends to not flush well. Reused plastic bags also work well as poop bags when walking the dog. So, please let me keep my plastic bags. All others can do away with theirs. Thank you for listening.

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Twenty days a month, I live in my RV because I work out of town. Those plastic bags I get from WalMart I reuse to put toilet paper in. My RV is a smaller one and toilet paper tends to not flush well. Reused plastic bags also work well as poop bags when walking the dog. So, please let me keep my plastic bags. All others can do away with theirs. Thank you for listening.

At least you are reusing them for very good reasons.  However, they will never biodegrade.  They are on this earth for a long, long time.  They photodegrade which means they'll break down into tiny particles of plastic.  I think as a society we need to use problem solving skills.  I do think people are trying to come up with plastic that does actually biodegrade.  So hopefully that will come to something and then we won't be in binds like this where we feel forced to pollute and be damned future generations!  We've got to poop scoop!  LOL.

 

I have no idea if these figures are exaggerated, but I've seen things like around the globe we use 1 trillion plastic bags a year.  Even if that is an exaggeration, our plastic bag usage is out of control.  They've only become popular in my life time!!! I"m 56 and I remember when these weird plastic bags started showing up at grocery stores! How did we deal with stuff without them?  We must have been able to cope somehow!

 

Anyway, even if people don't feel they can give up plastic bags now completely, we can try to reduce our consumption of them and we can vow to not use plastic water bottles and coffee cups.  Water bottles are another thing, a major pollutant that has sprung up in my life time.  How did we cope before?  Was everyone walking around dehydrated?  I don't remember that!  

 

I just think everyone just has to have a positive can-do attitude and do what they can in their own current situation.  For some, like me, who is older and has more time to concentrate on this, I can probably give up a lot.  I wouldn't have been able to when I had lots of littles at home, I don't think.  I was too overwhelmed and frankly it wasn't even on my radar!  And some people are just going to be able to take baby steps. But it is all good!!!  As long as we are all moving in the right direction!  We can help each other along.  

 

Sorry if I sound preachy!  Born again environmentalists are so annoying.  LOL.  

 

Today I blogged about coffee and tea!  Things we use to drink that never involved plastic until a few years ago.

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I managed to kill off two bins of worms (one via overfeeding because they weren't enough to handle our scraps, one via neglect) and never got the right balance in the yard bin to get things to break down in a timely way (so that we could use it and not have it overflowing).

 

Interesting. I make a pile. No bin. I assume worms get in somehow from somewhere. It composts.

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 My Whole Foods is cool with people taking grapes out of the plastic bags and putting them in our own cloth bags (I asked)--preferable because then we get the right amount, anyway. I think some other zero-wasters may have similar work-arounds.

 

But that is not really zero waste - because the bag is still waste. It does not really matter whether it ends in the consumer's trash or in the store's trash; repackaging the grapes does not avoid the use of this plastic bag. It just makes the consumer feel good that it's not in their garbage.

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But that is not really zero waste - because the bag is still waste. It does not really matter whether it ends in the consumer's trash or in the store's trash; repackaging the grapes does not avoid the use of this plastic bag. It just makes the consumer feel good that it's not in their garbage.

Good point!  However, if lots of people started doing this and the store noticed, that might spark interest in changing how grapes get packaged.  I think any little bit of consciousness raising we can do is helpful.

 

Btw, I am not a gardener at all.   I've tried over the years and I just am too ADD about it.  So composting to me was entirely daunting.  Also I am afraid of rats.  We had a big rat problem in our old neighborhood due to bird seed.  I was afraid having a compost bin would create the same problem.  However, there are solutions.  People can look for community composting.  I have a friend that does that.  I have a different solution.  I use a composting service.  I think these are springing up in answer to a need.  Here's what I use (of course it is local to me!http://www.veterancompost.com/

Edited by Faithr
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It doesn't attract mice or other wild critters?

 

No. At least not that I notice. There are of course mice, squirrels, possums, groundhogs etc living in the woods anyway- but I have not seen them congregating by my compost pile, nor have I seen evidence of something living in the pile. If the possum comes by and eats the apple cores, I have no problem with that.

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Btw, I am not a gardener at all.   I've tried over the years and I just am too ADD about it.  So composting to me was entirely daunting.  Also I am afraid of rats.  We had a big rat problem in our old neighborhood due to bird seed.  I was afraid having a compost bin would create the same problem.  However, there are solutions.  People can look for community composting.  I have a friend that does that.  I have a different solution.  I use a composting service.  I think these are springing up in answer to a need.  Here's what I use (of course it is local to me!http://www.veterancompost.com/

 

What a cool idea. 

 

We don't compost because we have a tiny yard and definitely DO NOT want to attract mice.  I've never seen a rat around here, but mice can be quite pesky.

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Btw, I am not a gardener at all.   I've tried over the years and I just am too ADD about it.  So composting to me was entirely daunting.  Also I am afraid of rats.  We had a big rat problem in our old neighborhood due to bird seed.  I was afraid having a compost bin would create the same problem. 

 

Oh, I am not a gardener either! One can compost without being a  gardener. I have no actual use for the copious amounts of compost I  create, but it settles  - and some can go on the herbs or the landscaping beds.

Sorry to hear about the rats - we never had any problem with critters. Maybe they smell the cat?

We have no bin, just a pile (or actually, several piles) at the edge of our property.

Edited by regentrude
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I went back and read your blog posts. I haven't had the chance until today.  

 

We converted to reusable bags several years ago.  I have all kinds and sizes.  Some stores will run a special and give a way a bag,  a booth at the fair will give away a bag.  I find them at yard sales (usually have some promo advertisement on them).  All these fit the bill (free or super cheap and reusable).   Also Tractor Supply has some big sturdy and sometimes cute bags for cheap too.  I just fold them all up and stick in 1 bag.

 

Water bottles -- years ago when ds was playing baseball I got tired of buying and throwing away water bottles or Gatorade bottles.  I bought some big Nalgene bottles.  Yes they are plastic but glass was not allowed at baseball.  But I look at it as the 1 (well several, each family member has 1 and some have 2) versus the bazillion we would have thrown way over the last 10  or so years. 

 

Travel cups -- we have several kinds of travel cups (for hot and cold). We try to always take our cups or water bottles when we leave the house

 

Coffee -- I have old school coffee maker so buy the tubs.  Most plastic but I try to reuse them.

 

Dish soap & shampoo -- I hadn't thought of that one

 

 

 

 

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For the dish soap the Dr. Bronner's works really well.  I also read somewhere about soap nuts?  Maybe I'll try them out too.

 

Shampoo is a toughie.  There are shampoo bars.  We have a hoity-toity store here called Lush.  I've never been but my 15 yo loves it.  She goes with her girlfriends to window shop.  Apparently, they have shampoo bars.  These bars are supposed to last a long time!  I also googled around and found a homeschooling family in my state who makes soaps as a business.  They have some too.  I found out they are coming to a craft fair next month, so I am going to attend and see about their shampoos.  And also check out other craft stuff that is non-plastic.

 

Another thing is toothpaste which is now all in plastic, even Tom's.  I bought some tooth powder from Country Gent and I've been using it for the last couple of days.  It done come with a think plastic seal.  But my teeth are nice and shiny!  However, I don't really want to have order all this stuff because of shipping, etc.  I'm looking for local vendors.  I know people make their own tooth powder, but I don't think I'm there yet!

 

Deodorant is another place where we unconsciously buy plastic.  

 

You can tell my children are all older.  I have nothing to do any more, they school themselves.  So this is the thing I am going to pour energy into.  I think it is worthwhile.  I'll do the sleuthing so you all don't have to!  Of course, some of you are way ahead of me in this regard.  I welcome any advice.

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I try to use less but am realistic.  Fortunately, more of the things I buy are now recyclable.  For example, the tv dinner tray, butter container, most of my pill bottles, etc. etc/  I have to use a special toothpaste.  I am not going to be looking for shampoos that might have ingredients people in my house are allergic to save on plastic.  I don't use reusable grocery bags because I have been told not to because they are less safe than paper bags or plastic bags- both of which I either reuse (for dog and cat waste) or recycle since I am on strong immune suppressants.

 

I recycle paper, steel and aluminum, plastics #1 and #2. I recycling extra plastic bags and foam too.  

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It doesn't attract mice or other wild critters?

 

I love the idea of composting and I did it enthusiastically for a year. However, I noticed that I also exponentially increased the field mice population in my yard. I'm not so keen on having the critters make their way into my home. My dh has declared war on the mice.

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Has anyone found a good substitute for thin plastic produce bags for lettuce and other greens? I've given up most plastics but this is one area where I have not found a decent alternative. 

 

And I agree about packaging--so much comes in plastic, it's nearly impossible to avoid.

 

Amy

 

You need string bags, like Mr. Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise used. (Beatrix Potter, the Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher)

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So how is getting a glass jar different than getting a plastic jar in terms of recycling? If you would put either of these in the recycling bin?

 

Just wondering!

Glass is a "pure" recycler, while plastic is not. A glass jar can make another glass jar can make another glass jar, indefintiely. Plastic can only be "downcycled"; a food-grade plastic cannot be made into another food-grade plastic. It can be made into composite playground equipment, say, or a plastic waste barrel.

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I love the idea of composting and I did it enthusiastically for a year. However, I noticed that I also exponentially increased the field mice population in my yard. I'm not so keen on having the critters make their way into my home. My dh has declared war on the mice.

Cats. 😻. The cuddly pet that also earns his keep.

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