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Blogging about giving up single use disposable plastic


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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.

 

Ah, ok.  Thanks!

 

I prefer glass for other reasons.  I just wondered about the recycling aspect.

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

 

I am assuming I haven't seen a mouse in the house since forever because of having 2 cats, but one of my cats is useless in this department.  She'll bring mice in, play with them a bit, and then get bored and then I'm left trying to catch the darn thing! 

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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.

 

 

We love Lush.  The shampoo bars last at least as long as a large bottle of shampoo, and during the summer they often have a mosquito repellent soap that I can send with the kid to camp.  No plastic, I bought the tins a while back and we keep them in our travel kits.  Right now I have a sugar cookie scented shampoo bar in my shower along with a locally made bar of soap, and use a washcloth rather than a poofy.

 

It is easier for me to avoid grocery plastic in the summer than it is in the fall/winter.  We lost our Bountiful Baskets for year round produce, but I can go to the farmer's market and put everything in my own bag or basket.  I take my egg carton and trade it in for a new dozen, bring containers to put my peppers and small items in.

 

It's all the every day plastic I have trouble with, though.  The recycle bin gets filled up quick as we go through groceries and such.  It's just hard to keep it out of the house.  I need to make more produce bags when I'm done with my current project.  That will help some.  And after we move I'll be able to buy in bulk again to reduce more.

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We love Lush. The shampoo bars last at least as long as a large bottle of shampoo, and during the summer they often have a mosquito repellent soap that I can send with the kid to camp. No plastic, I bought the tins a while back and we keep them in our travel kits. Right now I have a sugar cookie scented shampoo bar in my shower along with a locally made bar of soap, and use a washcloth rather than a poofy.

 

It is easier for me to avoid grocery plastic in the summer than it is in the fall/winter. We lost our Bountiful Baskets for year round produce, but I can go to the farmer's market and put everything in my own bag or basket. I take my egg carton and trade it in for a new dozen, bring containers to put my peppers and small items in.

 

It's all the every day plastic I have trouble with, though. The recycle bin gets filled up quick as we go through groceries and such. It's just hard to keep it out of the house. I need to make more produce bags when I'm done with my current project. That will help some. And after we move I'll be able to buy in bulk again to reduce more.

In Maryland, if you are licensed to sell eggs, you must always use a new carton. :( I get it; it's to prevent contamination (i.e., Salmonella), but you can't re-use cartons officially. (I have re-used cartons with my friends/family members, informally selling them eggs. But to be a licensed seller of eggs in MD, you can't re-use cartons. The next best thing is to use cardboard cartons instead of styrafoam. Styrafoam is a scourge.

 

P.S. My DD loves Lush.

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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.

We've been beguiled into thinking that plastic is all recyclable.  Much of it is not.  Only a very small percentage gets recycled.  And the plastic that is recyclable, as posted above, can only be downcycled.  And it never, ever goes away.  It never biodegrades.  It always stays plastic, unlike other renewable resources that break down.  Also, plastic comes from fossil fuels which are limited resources that once they are gone, they are gone!  It took billions of years to make those fossil fuels!  So it is just better to avoid it as much as humanly possible.  It is truly reckless that we have become so indifferent to this.  We've been seduced, brainwashed, etc.  We've got to wake up!!!!  We've got to problem solve and get noisy (but polite! Because 98% of us are just trying to get along and this issue has been forced on us by manufacturers).  There are solutions to this, but we've got to get cracking on it!

 

Ok, down from my (wooden) soap box!

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I wanted to say, although reduction of waste, especially plastic, is near and dear to my heart, and despite the fact that there exists many alternatives to plastic waste, I have found I cannot live even nearly as waste-free as I would like at this time. There is usually a trade-off that involves more money or more time, and in some cases, these trade-offs are too steep for the season of my life I'm in.

 

One good example is milk consumption. Although I personally do not drink milk, my family drinks it avidly. We clear nearly a gallon a day. In a perfect situation, I would happily patronize the creamery that delivers organic, pastured milk in glass, returnable jars. But this would be totally unaffordable, not to mention the question of the fuel used by delivery trucks driving from the creamery 50 minutes away, and back. Does it make sense? No, not really.

 

There's also the cooperation factor. I am the most trash-averse person in my family; if anyone cares at all besides me, it is only one of my kids. DH does not care about this issue at all and only cooperates with my kooky tree-hugging ways to mollify me. He thinks one person's silly reduction techniques is like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. If I was alone in the world, I could tailor many things to suit myself and would be very light upon the earth. Since divorcing my husband is not one of the better trash-reduction strategies I can think of, ðŸ˜, I must content myself with doing my tiny teaspoon as best I can. Some strategies take little money and only a miniscule bit of extra effort (shopping bags, for example), so everyone can start there at least.

 

A few of my principles that are easy and cost little or nothing:

 

NO balloons, ever, for any reason.

Refillable water bottle and beverage container as often as possible.

Reusable shopping bags for ALL types of shopping.

Avoid straws.

Purchase mindfully. Some things have few great alternatives (peanut butter, for instance), but many things are easily substituted.

Buy second-hand goods.

Fewer cleaning products/homemade cleaning products/refillable spray bottles.

Cloth napkins, cleaning cloths, kitchen towels (over paper towels).

 

There are others, but I'm outta time.

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We've been beguiled into thinking that plastic is all recyclable.  Much of it is not.  Only a very small percentage gets recycled.  And the plastic that is recyclable, as posted above, can only be downcycled.  And it never, ever goes away.  It never biodegrades.  It always stays plastic, unlike other renewable resources that break down.  Also, plastic comes from fossil fuels which are limited resources that once they are gone, they are gone!  It took billions of years to make those fossil fuels!  So it is just better to avoid it as much as humanly possible.  It is truly reckless that we have become so indifferent to this.  We've been seduced, brainwashed, etc.  We've got to wake up!!!!  We've got to problem solve and get noisy (but polite! Because 98% of us are just trying to get along and this issue has been forced on us by manufacturers).  There are solutions to this, but we've got to get cracking on it!

 

I agree that we must be mindful about fossil fuel consumption and strive to reduce disposable plastic waste. However, let us not forget that plastic also has advantages over glass containers - so it is not as simple as saying "all plastic is bad  and we have been brainwashed".

Plastic is flexible and lightweight, so items packaged in plastic can be stored more compactly and require less fuel to ship.

Plastic packages protect against humidity, contamination, spoiling better than paper.

Plastic does not break like glass does.

 

The good old times when the corner store only sold bulk goods also had issues with food safety, and food was not typically transported over long distances.

I don't think that eliminating plastic packaging is feasible. 

 

But we have a lot of room to improve recycling in the US. Back home in Germany, all packaging is collected separately, and manufacturers have to pay into a system for it to be recycled. This gives manufacturers an incentive to evaluate the amount and kind of packaging they use.

Edited by regentrude
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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.

 

Because I take only part of a bag of grapes, the number of bags per pound of grapes stays the same, but the number of bags per customer decreases. I believe that the bags are too large for many households and that a lot of the grapes are going to waste because of it, plastic issue aside. If half of us, who really only wanted ~half a bag of grapes anyway, used our cloth bags to remove our half from the plastic bags, twice as many people would be served with the same number of bags.

 

Of course, it would be better if the grapes were sold without any packaging (as that store already does green beans, cherry tomatoes in season, garlic, and a number of other items), and I've asked, but it'll take more people asking and/or obviously rejecting the plastic bags to get anywhere. I think making the bag the store's problem instead of accepting it myself is likely to help in this case, because this store location has zero waste certification (diverting 90+% of waste from the landfill). I don't think it'd help down at Food Lion.

 

 

Sparkly, WF prices can be outrageous on some things but very reasonable on others. I find them surprisingly cheap on local produce. It's the stuff that is expensive in other stores that's even more expensive there IME.

Edited by whitehawk
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When I said humanly possible about reducing plastic, I was thinking of individuals doing whatever they could.  I wasn't thinking about the manufacturers, etc.  I think they will change when 1) the demand for no plastic gets higher, 2) something cheaper becomes available, but that won't happen unless people change their attitudes and ways of doing things.  There is so much waste in plastic right now.  It is criminal. I agree that some plastic is good.  For instance, I am very glad there are disposable insulin needles.  I think plastic for medical purposes has really helped with keeping things safe and sterile.  My thought is, yes, let's use plastic there where it is really important.  We have to balance the limited fossil fuels and the insoluble pollution problem against necessity.  For the vast, vast number of things in the grocery store, it seems to me, it is not necessary.  The junky plastic for Christmas, the plastic Easter eggs, the junky plastic toys, etc, etc, etc.  My son got a new library card yesterday made of plastic.  I remember the days when they were made of hard cardboard with a little metal insert with a code on it.  There was absolutely no need to change!  Plastic is everywhere!!  And with food, we still have food borne illnesses even in our plastic era. Something or another is always being recalled!   In fact plastic itself has chemicals in it that some say are dangerous!!!  

 

I do hope that chemistry solves this problem.  There are people working right now to create biodegradable plastic or find a way to make our current plastic garbage into something that biodegrades.

 

I just went to a cheese specialty shop to see if I could find cheese just in wax, the old fashion way.  He said you'd probably have to go to Europe to find plastic wrap free cheese.  We humans have been eating cheese for thousands of years and we've only had plastic around for what, 60 years?  How did everybody cope in yesteryear???  I don't think they all died of food poisoning!

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I just went to a cheese specialty shop to see if I could find cheese just in wax, the old fashion way. He said you'd probably have to go to Europe to find plastic wrap free cheese. We humans have been eating cheese for thousands of years and we've only had plastic around for what, 60 years? How did everybody cope in yesteryear??? I don't think they all died of food poisoning!

I agree with what you're saying here, but I want to point out that, in many places, it is due to regulations; the makers/vendors themselves cannot simply choose to do this differently. Just like I said upthread about selling eggs - yes, people have bought fresh eggs from their neighbors for hundreds of years without regulations regarding how the eggs had to be packaged. But local laws where I live put an astounding amount of regulations on something so naturally available as eggs. Not only do they have to be packaged in new materials (not reused), they must be uniform in size, shape and color, as if chickens were manufacturing plants. This is frustrating, but there was, at least originally, good intentions for consumer protection inherant in these laws.

 

I remember when I first got my chickens and I bought my first 25 lbs. of feed from the feed store. I thought I was going to then take that bag back to the feed store and have them pour another 25lbs. in there, sparing the trash of a feed bag. The vendors were baffled. The guy said, "I would just be opening up a bag, pouring it into your bag, and then throwing away the bag I opened." Well, dang! That's not what I intended! I thought they just had a big bulk-grain dispenser they would fill with my feed!

 

That *would* be a good idea, though. Except I guess I'm the only customer who has ever asked for this in living memory.

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I just went to a cheese specialty shop to see if I could find cheese just in wax, the old fashion way.  He said you'd probably have to go to Europe to find plastic wrap free cheese.  We humans have been eating cheese for thousands of years and we've only had plastic around for what, 60 years?  How did everybody cope in yesteryear???  I don't think they all died of food poisoning!

 

I think more did, and people did not have access to a varied diet.

People usually ate the stuff that was produced locally, and they spent a much larger fraction of their income on food.

Our food travels long distances to offer the variety that consumers want.

 

When I grew up, in winter we had cabbage, onions, apples and potatoes - because these things could be stored and preserved easily. That was all the produce available until the beginning of the new growth season. Offering a variety of foods requires food to be transported from the growing regions, which requires packaging. 

 

Now, of course in the US, we also have the obsession about germs. I think many American consumers (who are scrubbing their household with antibacterial cleaners) would freak out if they had paper wrapped cheese in wooden boxes. In Europe, people eat raw milk cheese and air cured bacon. In the US, that's illegal. 

Edited by regentrude
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We have had the no plastic bags law for 2 and a half years now, and now stores have circumvented it by offering bags (all bags are an extra 10 cents) of a thicker plastic than the law describes. Sigh.

 

We are looking at the no plastic single-serve water bottles idea at present. In my office, we would produce more rubbish providing disposable cups. 

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We are looking at the no plastic single-serve water bottles idea at present. In my office, we would produce more rubbish providing disposable cups. 

 

What kind of office - are you talking about the office staff, or offering water to the public?

 

People can use reusable cups in their work place to drink water. 

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Re; packaging and people dying of food poisoning

 

I think more did, and people did not have access to a varied diet.

People usually ate the stuff that was produced locally, and they spent a much larger fraction of their income on food.

Our food travels long distances to offer the variety that consumers want.

 

<snip>

 

Yes to this.

 

And, there is probably also a self-protection aspect to this.

 

If a supplier were to attempt minimal packaging such as was used "in the good old days" before plastic, and people became sick or died due to food-borne illness, there would be a great outcry against that supplier, unless it could be proven the lack of packaging had nothing to do with it.  Maybe not even then?  Lawsuits, etc.  The business could be ruined. 

 

So, better to err on the side of caution, right?   

 

From time to time I've read about churches who buy little sealed pouches of bread and wine for the Lord's Supper (communion) so people don't have to eat/drink something that others may have touched.  I can't even imagine the amount of waste such a thing would create if that became the norm.  As it is, we use tiny disposable cups for the wine.  But the bread is just a plate of cut-up pieces that people take as they pass by.  No guarantee that someone's finger didn't brush against another piece as they grabbed theirs.  That grosses some people out.   

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I don't know about the food poisoning thing in the past.  People really knew how to preserve food.  I've read some histories of food and I don't remember it being an especially dire problem.  Except there were problems with industrialization before they figured out how to do thing in a clean safer way.  But that happened before plastic!  Sometimes though the limited diet did lead to some dramatic malnutrition though.  I like have varied diets too.  Though I do like to shop locally and try to be more seasonal about food, I'm also ok with, say, buying bananas. Did you ever read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?  She makes a big thing about giving up bananas to be more local and then she keeps using olive oil.  I live in Virginia. There's no olives here!  I think trade is innate to human society and it has benefited us a lot.  

 

I admit that it is complicated.  And the regulations that are supposed to keep us healthy can get too paternalistic and burdensome (though initially a good thing.  You know, the whole meat yard packing stuff in that book The Jungle.)  Here in VA I buy eggs from my CSA and we recycle egg cartons. There doesn't seem to be a prohibition on reusing egg cartons.   MD is a more regulatory kind of state.  That is good and bad.  In VA we can't get the legislature to tax or ban plastic bags.  Sigh.

 

Marbel I have to laugh at your post.  I am Catholic.  I receive the Eucharist from the priest's fingers right on my tongue!  We also all sip from the same chalice!  Honestly, I don't think I have ever traced back getting sick from these things.  Of course people don't partake of the chalice if they are sick, or they shouldn't.  I don't.  Maybe they need to do a study, do Catholics get sick more often than Protestants?  I do think Americans have gotten too germaphobic.  It is funny how as healthcare and cleanliness has improved, we are more and more fearful of germs.  

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We try to keep bags and/or our Clever Crate in the trunk (mainly for frozen/cold food), but yes, I do use disposable bags for bagging up the cat litter and lining my household trashcans like in the bathroom. I guess people that don't use bags don't line their little trash cans?? I mean in all seriousness, if you don't get grocery bags what do you use?

Edited by heartlikealion
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We try to keep bags and/or our Clever Crate in the trunk (mainly for frozen/cold food), but yes, I do use disposable bags for bagging up the cat litter and lining my household trashcans like in the bathroom. I guess people that don't use bags don't line their little trash cans?? I mean in all seriousness, if you don't get grocery bags what do you use?

 

We get trash bags for the kitchen garbage but stopped lining the bathroom trash cans.  We have lidded cans that have an insert that's easy to wash out as needed.  Honestly though the cans don't get really nasty.  We don't have too much trash with bodily fluids on it.  One person in the house is menstruating but it's easy to wrap up a pad for disposal.   Gah can I be any more tmi-ish here?

 

Anyway, when we empty the cans, which is at least weekly but sometimes more often, such as when we are having company, they are easy to clean out.   If I'm really rushed, I will run a disinfectant wipe over the interior.  The contents go into the kitchen garbage which does have a bag.  So, we use one bag for the 3 trash cans in the house.  We don't generate a lot of trash generally.   

 

We don't have cats so litter cleanup is not an issue for us.  When we had a dog, we did keep bags for cleaning up after him.  If we didn't have plastic grocery bags, we'd have gone to the pet store and gotten bags there. 

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We get trash bags for the kitchen garbage but stopped lining the bathroom trash cans.  We have lidded cans that have an insert that's easy to wash out as needed.  Honestly though the cans don't get really nasty.  We don't have too much trash with bodily fluids on it.  One person in the house is menstruating but it's easy to wrap up a pad for disposal.   Gah can I be any more tmi-ish here?

 

Anyway, when we empty the cans, which is at least weekly but sometimes more often, such as when we are having company, they are easy to clean out.   If I'm really rushed, I will run a disinfectant wipe over the interior.  The contents go into the kitchen garbage which does have a bag.  So, we use one bag for the 3 trash cans in the house.  We don't generate a lot of trash generally.   

 

We don't have cats so litter cleanup is not an issue for us.  When we had a dog, we did keep bags for cleaning up after him.  If we didn't have plastic grocery bags, we'd have gone to the pet store and gotten bags there. 

 

I see. Well it's not as practical for me (or at least for my sanity I don't know if I could do it. One more thing to clean more often). We don't always buy diaper genie trash bags so sometimes I have to put dirty diapers/wipes in the bathroom trash. Then we might clean the shower drain and toss hair in there. Just stuff like that makes it better with a bag. My cat's litter box usually has its own bag liner as well because it seems to cut down on damage to the actual cat box and potential scratches/odors. I don't change her bag super often, though because I can just scoop til I'm ready to start all over.

 

We generate too much trash. We cannot recycle so I have to throw all bottles/cartons etc. into the can even if I don't bag them.

 

If we didn't get grocery bags from some of our shopping stores then yes, I would probably make more effort to go without the bags. I could try better to remember to take my canvas bags into Walmart to cut down on the number I come home with now.

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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.

 

There are small jars (made by the mason jar companies) and plastic lids which made a difference for me since I am out and about a lot as part of work.

 

These are the lids: http://www.target.com/p/ball-set-of-8-regular-mouth-plastic-storage-caps/-/A-14898082?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Kitchen+Shopping&adgroup=SC_Kitchen&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9032622&gclid=CKLY28TpvtICFdc7gQodaQ0O5A&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

These are the small size jars that come in handy: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-19695/Jars/Canning-Jars-4-oz?pricode=WZ495&gadtype=pla&id=S-19695&gclid=CKews9_pvtICFQwZgQod--oCqA&gclsrc=aw.ds

Edited by Liz CA
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We have the pay for plastic bag law here. To be honest the reusable bags many of the shops sell are plastic based as well and such poor quality that they have a fairly short life span.

 

Another massive plastic problem is synthetic clothing that's only designed to last one season. This is producing a huge amount of plastic pollution as well.

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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.

Have you seen the nude food containers? They are designed to be used for all situations without plastic wrap. We use them although I must admit sometimes I use plastic wrap as well for sandwiches.

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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.

 

I try to use the smallest bags necessary.  We have to pay for bags at the supermarket now (Scotland) and I take my own reusable ones.  For picking up after the dog, I buy small biodegradable bags - not zero plastic, but less than if I was using supermarket bags.  I'm assuming that you empty out your toilet paper from the RV regularly - would smaller bags work for that? Or newspaper?

Edited by Laura Corin
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I see. Well it's not as practical for me (or at least for my sanity I don't know if I could do it. One more thing to clean more often). We don't always buy diaper genie trash bags so sometimes I have to put dirty diapers/wipes in the bathroom trash. Then we might clean the shower drain and toss hair in there. Just stuff like that makes it better with a bag. My cat's litter box usually has its own bag liner as well because it seems to cut down on damage to the actual cat box and potential scratches/odors. I don't change her bag super often, though because I can just scoop til I'm ready to start all over.

 

We generate too much trash. We cannot recycle so I have to throw all bottles/cartons etc. into the can even if I don't bag them.

 

If we didn't get grocery bags from some of our shopping stores then yes, I would probably make more effort to go without the bags. I could try better to remember to take my canvas bags into Walmart to cut down on the number I come home with now.

 

It sounds like you are doing the best you can.  I'll beat myself up over things I could easily control but don't - for example, I often forget my grocery bags even though they're in the back seat of the car.  I don't think of it till my groceries are all on the conveyor belt and the light goes on (or my brain wakes up).  Too late to go get them then.   It annoys me that I forget them.  

 

But, stuff like you describe, yeah, it's not practical for you to do without a bag.  If I was getting rid of diapers, sure, I'd have a bag in there.  So I'd not beat myself up over that.  

 

I feel like we had this discussion a few months ago.  Someone said it was impractical to do without bags in some trash cans.  They were hard to clean because of size or shape or something.  People were getting a bit nasty over it.  What the heck.  Most people are doing the best they can. Certainly people who are posting on threads like this aren't clods who care nothing about the environment.   

Edited by marbel
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It sounds like you are doing the best you can. I'll beat myself up over things I could easily control but don't - for example, I often forget my grocery bags even though they're in the back seat of the car. I don't think of it till my groceries are all on the conveyor belt and the light goes on (or my brain wakes up). Too late to go get them then. It annoys me that I forget them.

 

 

I sometimes just put all my purchases back in the trolley and then put them into bags at my car.

 

At Aldi, you don't pack into bags at the checkout anyway, because they thrive on fast processing. You put everything back in the trolley, then pack at a table to one side, or at your car.

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I sometimes just put all my purchases back in the trolley and then put them into bags at my car.

 

At Aldi, you don't pack into bags at the checkout anyway, because they thrive on fast processing. You put everything back in the trolley, then pack at a table to one side, or at your car.

 

What's stupid is many stores here completely wig out if you want to do that. 

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On most days, I don't like feeling old, but I feel like in terms of living without plastic, it has its advantages because I can remember when we didn't use plastic.  I grew up with Depression/WWII parents who had to be frugal because we were a large family.  And there were no plastic bags in the grocery stores.  How did we deal with icky trashcans?  We washed them!  We saved every brown bag or piece of tin foil.  Messy stuff got put in a brown bag (maybe 2 if it threatened to leak through) and all wrapped, thrown in the trash.  We covered things with tin foil and that we used over and over.   If it got dirty, we rinsed it off!  We used them until they were falling apart.  

 

I remember my mother making us sandwiches and neatly folding wax paper into a little envelope to keep it fresh for school lunch.

 

Before tupperware, people saved old jars and kept leftovers in them.  Living plastic free is also more frugal!

 

It was one of our chores as kids to wash the trashcans.  This was a summer job.  We took them outside and hosed them down.  We had fun squirting each other with the hose as well.  I have fond memories of washing trashcans.  

 

I am editing this because I just remembered another use tool for dealing with icky stuff back in the day:  newspaper!  We lined things with newspaper.  We used newspaper all the time for everything!  Growing up we got a morning and an evening newspaper.  Now my family gets all our news on line!  So we don't have newspaper to use anymore, which is a shame.  it was a really useful thing!

 

In the name of frugality my mother used dish towels instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper.  She just couldn't justify the expense when she knew she'd being doing lots of laundry anyway.  She might as well throw in some some dish towels and napkins too.

 

My mother raised 10 children and she never once used a disposable diaper or baby wipe!  People did it.  Maybe people were just more clever and hardier back then.  Plastic and convenience has made us wimpy and squeamish - I include myself in this for though I did use cloth diapers, I also switched to pull ups when they got older and I loved my baby wipes!

 

I do agree that everyone can only do as much as they can.  Everyone is at a different place in life, both in terms of children and claims on time as well geographically where you might be limited in what you can practically do.  My concern is that it is very easy to be defensive about one's use of plastic (for ex. well, I have to use it because of such and such!) instead of maybe being more openminded about hunting for solutions.  I mean if one is really stuck with it, that can't be helped and as said above there is no use beating yourself up over it.  But it is so very easy to slip into complacency about this issue because, in the USA we have been raised to think our own little convenience is of upmost important lest we become too stressed, etc.  And it is sold to us day and night and pretty much an assumption built into our whole worldview.  I read about plastic several years ago in a really informative book called Plastic; A Toxic Love Story.  I tried to change my ways as much as I could but I soon backslid.  I am not strong about such things.  Convenience really is important to me!  So I have to keep it in mind deliberately and think long term and about my own children and what kind of earth they will inherit.  I recently got galvanized again because my parish is starting up an environmental ministry.

 

I do think to try to reduce waste and avoid plastic as much as possible (and you really can't avoid it that much, just some of easier things like grocery bags and disposable cups - but truly it is everywhere!) is being countercultural and that is always hard.  It takes perseverance.  Like homeschooling!  I am the kind of person that fluctuates all day long.  One minute I am despairing over some dumb thing I did and the next I am rallying and determined.  I am a roller coaster in my interior life!  So I have to fight that too.   I just keep telling myself this is a process, it is a gradual change of habits, taking baby steps.  I do feel that I currently am in a position to go more whole hog than others might be, just because my kids are older and I live in an area where there are lots of options if I seek them out.

 

Anyway, ladies, I thank you for this great conversation!

Edited by Faithr
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I sometimes just put all my purchases back in the trolley and then put them into bags at my car.

 

At Aldi, you don't pack into bags at the checkout anyway, because they thrive on fast processing. You put everything back in the trolley, then pack at a table to one side, or at your car.

 

I never forget to take my bags into Aldi.  I shop there a lot.  But it's conditioned - Aldi requires a quarter and bags, always has.  It's extremely inconvenient to do any shopping at Aldi without either - unless I'm buying only a very few things and don't need a cart, and/or am willing to pay for a bag.   Over time, I will remember bags at other stores.  But it's not automatic yet because it's not required.  

 

But stores here don't let much unbagged stuff go out.  I guess it's a security thing.  If I buy a gallon of milk or cider vinegar, or a 5# bag of potatoes, and don't want it bagged, they insist on putting a "paid for" sticker on it.   That slows things down too.  

 

Don't get me wrong, I think reusable bags is the best idea.  Even if people want plastic bags sometimes, for home use, most people end up with too many, in my experience at least.  That's why most stores now have a bin for recycling plastic bags.   It's also not difficult.  It can be difficult to remember to do it, especially for people who have been shopping for many years and taking bags is still a "new" thing.   It is hard to build new habits.  It's worth doing, but that doesn't make it any easier for everyone.  And it doesn't help when people are condescending or nasty about it. (Laura I am not talking about you, or really about any poster here.  There has been nastiness on past threads. And I've seen such condescension

from store clerks about it too, which seems like a poor business practice.)

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You must be older than me.  This doesn't describe my experiences growing up. Even my grandmother did not do that when I was a child.  She'll be 90 in 2 weeks.  I don't know for sure what she did as a kid.  Probably they didn't have a lot of that stuff.  I do recall her saving stuff like bread bags to reuse them for various things.  But then my grandmother loved paper plates and used them all the time.  That's not something I'd use if I could help it! 

 

I could of course just put icky personal products straight into the can.  But then yeah I have to wash it.  Which of course I could, but then I'd need to bleach out the sink.  It's a matter of convenience.  And I don't like having to wash that in my kitchen sink.  Which is the only place I could wash it.  I still could.  I just don't want to.  Not making excuses at all.  It IS a matter of not wanting to do that.  Paper bags might work as a can liner.  I'd be willing to do that, but I have no clue where to get a decent amount of paper bags that size.  They are hard to find. 

 

 

On most days, I don't like feeling old, but I feel like in terms of living without plastic, it has its advantages because I can remember when we didn't use plastic.  I grew up with Depression/WWII parents who had to be frugal because we were a large family.  And there were no plastic bags in the grocery stores.  How did we deal with icky trashcans?  We washed them!  We saved every brown bag or piece of tin foil.  Messy stuff got put in a brown bag (maybe 2 if it threatened to leak through) and all wrapped, thrown in the trash.  We covered things with tin foil and that we used over and over.   If it got dirty, we rinsed it off!  We used them until they were falling apart.  

 

I remember my mother making us sandwiches and neatly folding wax paper into a little envelope to keep it fresh for school lunch.

 

Before tupperware, people saved old jars and kept leftovers in them.  Living plastic free is also more frugal!

 

It was one of our chores as kids to wash the trashcans.  This was a summer job.  We took them outside and hosed them down.  We had fun squirting each other with the hose as well.  I have fond memories of washing trashcans.  

 

I am editing this because I just remembered another use tool for dealing with icky stuff back in the day:  newspaper!  We lined things with newspaper.  We used newspaper all the time for everything!  Growing up we got a morning and an evening newspaper.  Now my family gets all our news on line!  So we don't have newspaper to use anymore, which is a shame.  it was a really useful thing!

 

In the name of frugality my mother used dish towels instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper.  She just couldn't justify the expense when she knew she'd being doing lots of laundry anyway.  She might as well throw in some some dish towels and napkins too.

 

My mother raised 10 children and she never once used a disposable diaper or baby wipe!  People did it.  Maybe people were just more clever and hardier back then.  Plastic and convenience has made us wimpy and squeamish - I include myself in this for though I did use cloth diapers, I also switched to pull ups when they got older and I loved my baby wipes!

 

I do agree that everyone can only do as much as they can.  Everyone is at a different place in life, both in terms of children and claims on time as well geographically where you might be limited in what you can practically do.  My concern is that it is very easy to be defensive about one's use of plastic (for ex. well, I have to use it because of such and such!) instead of maybe being more openminded about hunting for solutions.  I mean if one is really stuck with it, that can't be helped and as said above there is no use beating yourself up over it.  But it is so very easy to slip into complacency about this issue because, in the USA we have been raised to think our own little convenience is of upmost important lest we become too stressed, etc.  And it is sold to us day and night and pretty much an assumption built into our whole worldview.  I read about plastic several years ago in a really informative book called Plastic; A Toxic Love Story.  I tried to change my ways as much as I could but I soon backslid.  I am not strong about such things.  Convenience really is important to me!  So I have to keep it in mind deliberately and think long term and about my own children and what kind of earth they will inherit.  I recently got galvanized again because my parish is starting up an environmental ministry.

 

I do think to try to reduce waste and avoid plastic as much as possible (and you really can't avoid it that much, just some of easier things like grocery bags and disposable cups - but truly it is everywhere!) is being countercultural and that is always hard.  It takes perseverance.  Like homeschooling!  I am the kind of person that fluctuates all day long.  One minute I am despairing over some dumb thing I did and the next I am rallying and determined.  I am a roller coaster in my interior life!  So I have to fight that too.   I just keep telling myself this is a process, it is a gradual change of habits, taking baby steps.  I do feel that I currently am in a position to go more whole hog than others might be, just because my kids are older and I live in an area where there are lots of options if I seek them out.

 

Anyway, ladies, I thank you for this great conversation!

 

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That's quite odd. It's no business of theirs.

 

Even if you say had a pack of soda or a box too large to bag, they put a sticker on it.  A bright colored sticker that says you paid for it.  I guess they assume no bag means you might have stolen stuff.  No clue.

 

I have seen these sort of cart bags for sale.  Where you put stuff into the bag that is the shape of the cart.  Then I guess you could put it all back in at the end.  I've just never seen anyone using them.  Ever.  I'm not sure why.  I think they'd be too heavy to use as a bag, but that might be one way to get the stuff out of the store without all the bags.  Then you could bag stuff at the car.

I like doing my own bagging. 

 

I also miss that most stores don't offer paper.  I take paper when it's offered/available.  I don't mind paper.  For one thing those bags can fit more in them and the shape is better. 

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On most days, I don't like feeling old, but I feel like in terms of living without plastic, it has its advantages because I can remember when we didn't use plastic.  I grew up with Depression/WWII parents who had to be frugal because we were a large family.  And there were no plastic bags in the grocery stores.  How did we deal with icky trashcans?  We washed them!  We saved every brown bag or piece of tin foil.  Messy stuff got put in a brown bag (maybe 2 if it threatened to leak through) and all wrapped, thrown in the trash.  We covered things with tin foil and that we used over and over.   If it got dirty, we rinsed it off!  We used them until they were falling apart.  

I remember my mother making us sandwiches and neatly folding wax paper into a little envelope to keep it fresh for school lunch.

Before tupperware, people saved old jars and kept leftovers in them.  

I am editing this because I just remembered another use tool for dealing with icky stuff back in the day:  newspaper!  We lined things with newspaper.  We used newspaper all the time for everything!  

In the name of frugality my mother used dish towels instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper.  

My mother raised 10 children and she never once used a disposable diaper or baby wipe!  People did it. 

 

I am not old, but I grew up in communist East Germany where there were no plastic bags or paper towels or brown paper bags or . They.did.not.exist.

Produce was loose or packed in paper bags - BUT I also had never seen blueberries, raspberries or kiwis in a store until I was 23, and the quality of produce shipped loose in large boxes was often questionable. 

School sandwiches were wrapped in paper. All beverages were in glass bottles. Carrying these up the hill or many flights of stairs was not fun. (Tap water was not recommended for drinking)

Kitchen trashcan was lined with newspaper. Outside trashcans were metal and gross and you could not actually wash them; the largest part of the trash was the ashes from the coal stoves. No fond memories there.

I recall cloth diapers boiling on the stove in the kitchen. No disposable wipes of any kind existed.

 

I don't want to go back. 

Edited by regentrude
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I've been good about bringing my reusable bags to grocery shop every week.

 

Yesterday, I had the funniest cashier at Walmart. I have a motley collection of bags that I've picked up over the years - none of them match and they are all different sizes. She wanted to put them on the little bag carousel before she started scanning. She handed me back about every 3rd bag with a muttered, "I don't like this one." or "Not gonna use this one." I was trying not to die laughing. Fortunately, I had enough bags that passed her inspection. 

 

I'm going to avoid her lane in the future. 

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I do miss newspaper for it's usefulness to line stuff, etc.  We no longer get the newspaper. 

 

We no longer get the paper either. Because it was SO much paper! Huge piles, and most of it was completely useless. Yes, paper can be recycled, but not having the paper is more environmentally friendly.

I guess I could easily pick up a bunch of free newspapers to satisfy my need for lining things, stuffing wet shoes for drying out and similar purposes.

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We no longer get the paper either. Because it was SO much paper! Huge piles, and most of it was completely useless. Yes, paper can be recycled, but not having the paper is more environmentally friendly.

I guess I could easily pick up a bunch of free newspapers to satisfy my need for lining things, stuffing wet shoes for drying out and similar purposes.

 

Yeah we found we'd read about 10% or less. 

 

I haven't seen free newspapers in a long time now that you mention that. 

 

My BIL sends newspapers.  Which annoys me to no end.  NO END.  That's another discussion.

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I am suspicious of the chemicals leached from plastic, but other than that I find it massively useful with a houseful of small children.  Tupperware is as good as glass for storing things, and lasts longer as no one drops it on the tile floor and breaks it.

 

Yep

 

I like glass better in terms of material.  But it's not terribly practical.  It gets dropped and smashes.  It also gets very hot when you microwave it.  My husband once dropped soup in a glass bowl at work.  He asked that I never send him glass again.  So he uses plastic. There is no other option. 

 

People mention those plastic holders for the glass water bottles.  I saw one girl drop it and it smashed into a zillion pieces all over the floor which is a hell of a lot more problematic than just cleaning up a puddle of liquid.  Those holders do not prevent the glass from breaking.  At all. 

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It's funny that you mentioned wax paper sandwiches, Faithr.  :)  That's just what we did last week when we went on our field trips.  One place was rural and one was a zoo, and I really didn't want bits of plastic floating around.  Not to mention, the wax paper makes an outstanding placemat to put the rest of the lunch on. 

 

Now that I have no young children in the house I'm finding we can slowly do away with some of our plastic items like plates and cups, but the usefulness of others is hard to question. 

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I haven't seen free newspapers in a long time now that you mention that. 

 

Some papers provide free copies for college students. I can go by the university library and pick up a free copy of the paper from the closest big city.

 

And in some cities, there are these boxes on the street that have free papers about entertainment or dining or real estate.

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We no longer get the paper either. Because it was SO much paper! Huge piles, and most of it was completely useless. Yes, paper can be recycled, but not having the paper is more environmentally friendly.

I guess I could easily pick up a bunch of free newspapers to satisfy my need for lining things, stuffing wet shoes for drying out and similar purposes.

We have a wood stove, so paper gets used for lighting the fire. My mum likes paper news, so we buy it on Saturday and Sunday.

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It's funny that you mentioned wax paper sandwiches, Faithr.  :)  That's just what we did last week when we went on our field trips.  One place was rural and one was a zoo, and I really didn't want bits of plastic floating around.  Not to mention, the wax paper makes an outstanding placemat to put the rest of the lunch on. 

 

Most wax paper uses petroleum based paraffin wax.

Not exactly environmentally friendly, and it cannot be recycled.

 

There is a slightly better alternative that uses soy based wax. 

Edited by regentrude
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Most wax paper uses petroleum based paraffin wax.

Not exactly environmentally friendly, and it cannot be recycled.

 

If an animal eats it, it will not do them harm.  It's also biodegradable and comes in three basic forms: petroleum, soy, or vegetable wax based.  The petroleum based is hard to break down, but the other two are not.  If You Care is soy based.

 

Wasteful, yes, to create a new placemat every time, but since the other things on it were a bottle of iced tea, an apple, homemade sugar cookies and a fresh pretzel, I think I'm going to go with it's better than plastic.

 

 

ETA: Honestly, I'm just glad I got my kid to eat something resembling a child's lunch.  He doesn't eat sandwiches as a norm, so buying little kaiser rolls was an incentive.  Eating a sandwich is a BIG deal here.

 

I do have about 10 different bento boxes, all plastic. :P  Usually they're filled with something like cold grilled chicken, tortellini w/pesto, and an orange, or rice, braised beef, apple slices and a piece of cheese.  I just didn't want to have to work on keeping it cold or putting together something first thing in the morning because we didn't get home the night before until 9pm.  So I made my kid eat a sandwich. Twice. and I used paper that would not kill the animals we were looking at.  And I think I made up for it by not buying pasta on the way home but made my own for dinner instead - one less bag of plastic to come into my house.  Little choices, little trade offs.

Edited by HomeAgain
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If an animal eats it, it will not do them harm.  It's also biodegradable and comes in three basic forms: petroleum, soy, or vegetable wax based.  The petroleum based is hard to break down, but the other two are not.  If You Care is soy based.

Wasteful, yes, to create a new placemat every time, but since the other things on it were a bottle of iced tea, an apple, homemade sugar cookies and a fresh pretzel, I think I'm going to go with it's better than plastic.

 

Oh, my comment was not meant as a criticism of *you*. Just wanted to mention it for people who want to avoid plastic because it is based on fossil fuel - they need to make sure to select a plant based wax paper.

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What a great idea!  MightyNest has some little stainless steel (I think with silicone lids) food containers that I've eyed wistfully, but they're very pricey.  That's a much more affordable option.  Thanks for mentioning this!

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Ziplocks are my issue.  I just can't seem to get rid of them.  I've replaced my other storage with mason jars of various sizes or other glass.  But, sometimes glass isn't practical.  I'm thinking of sandwiches in lunchbox type thing.  Suggestions appreciated

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