Thoughts on reducing plastics

I’m a big fan of reducing plastic consumption.

It started when I was in chemo and a friend gifted me a Klean Kanteen.

In the years since then, I’ve built up a healthy stainless steel water bottle collection, replaced all of my food storage containers with glass or stainless steel, eliminated disposables from the kitchen. The Kid’s lunchbox is stainless. I have reusable cloth shopping bags, including smaller bags for produce (when necessary) and bulk items.

As an aside, do you put things like one cucumber or a bunch of celery in a bag? I just toss them in the cart. They’re going to get washed when I get home anyway…

As a second aside, I have a rule with myself that if I forget the bags in the car, I have to go out and get them. It took exactly once forgetting them and going to fetch them before I remembered to bring them with me. After I empty them in the house, I hang them on the doorknob to take back out to the car the next time I go (or ask The Kid to go stick them in the car).

Back to the topic at hand.

Instead of buying white boards, I put a nice background (read: a sheet of colored paper) in a picture frame and use that. (Dry erase works well on glass.)

We do have a few plastic drawers and bins that we have right now were hand-me-downs or bought second-hand—someone else was getting rid of them and I picked them up. Or I’ve had them longer than I’ve been reducing plastics.

When The Kid was small, we didn’t buy him plastic toys. He had cloth, wood, stainless steel, and lots of pots and pans in the kitchen. Added bonus: no plastic meant no toys that played horrible songs. I’m aware of the irony of his long-standing favorite toy being LEGO. And he has a couple of Transformers. Otherwise, his toys remain wood (blocks, pencils, easel), cloth (stuffed animals), metal (trucks, cookie sheets mainly for traveling magnet activities), paper (books, paper for drawing).

Yes, the lids to the glass containers are still plastic. (The lids to the jars aren’t.) Yes, the dry erase markers are still plastic, as are The Kid’s markers. Yes yes yes there is still plastic here. I’m not claiming to be plastic-free (though I would love to be). When there are alternatives to those, I’ll be on ’em.

I saw a great little quote about plastics that I wanted to share:

Every time I get ready to buy plastic I think, “500 years.” As in, does my need for this item trump the 500 years it’ll take to decompose?” Saves me a lot $$, and saves the world just a little.

Many items have not-plastic alternatives. Many of the ones that don’t are cheap crap and are going to be lost, broken, or forgotten in a matter of days anyway.

Someone else somewhere along the line pointed out: every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists.

That’s every toy, straw, cup, bread wrapper, sandwich bag, marker, bubble wrap, car dashboard, food storage container, cutting board, broom handle, toothbrush, shampoo bottle, power strip, pushpin, vinyl cutout, produce sticker, drink bottle (soda, water, juice, milk), little plastic thing that holds the price tag on clothes, and on and on.

Yes, recycling is a good second choice, though most plastics that are put into recycling don’t get recycled. We produce more than there is a market for right now. That said, more and more stores have the shopping bag recycling bins. Those also take other bags, like bread bags, the wrap around a package of toilet paper, etc.

It’s all economics. If we stop buying cheap crap, they’ll stop selling cheap crap. If we buy more products made from/stored in/shipped in other materials, those will be more available.

And also: we don’t need most of what we buy. Buy less.


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