Saturday, April 25, 2009

No More Plastic Bags II

We've decided to try and eliminate as many plastic bags from our life as is possible.

The first step toward doing this was to reduce the amount of waste we throw out. Why? Because what goes into the dumpster has to be in a plastic bag. So, we're recycling cans, bottles, medication bottles, yogurt and other food containers, glass, paper and cardboard. We compost food wastes. We are using pine stove pellets for cat litter, which, after the removal of the "nuggets" (which we do immediately in any case) can be composted.

The next logical step is reduce the amount of plastic we bring home. Toward this end I extended my "reduce plastic" campaign beyond just carrying cloth shopping bags. I traded my dinky "lady's purse" for a sturdy messenger-style bag. It holds tons of stuff, like the gift I bought for a friend which went into the bag without the plastic store bag.

At the grocers I used cotton mesh bags with drawstring tops to hold my produce. The clerk was a bit confused initially, but immediately said, "What a good idea!" when she realized what they were. I came out of the grocers with very little plastic compared to what I usually have. Some foods you can't get unwrapped but if you are careful you can minimize the amount of plastic you carry away.

I already buy as much of our food as possible at the local bulk store, but for the first time this week I took my own containers. (I didn't know it before but they give a 5% discount if you bring your own container. Bonus!) The rice and oatmeal I bought at the grocer's last time came packaged in heavy plastic "zipper-style" bags. I washed these good bags and took them to the bulk store to be refilled. I took containers for the dried vegetable flakes, onions and dried cranberries. The small plastic bucket I bought prunes in a while ago was refilled with the much nicer bulk food store prunes. Chocolates went in a zip-lock bag I'd brought, which was washed and will be reused. Pecans the same. I bought $35.00 worth of food (two large cloth bags full) and came out with only one new plastic bag, because their nutritional yeast comes pre-bagged.

Soon it will be fruit stand time, and my net bags and cloth bags will go along with me to the fruit stand. No reeling off a dozen plastic bags for my produce this season.

And it made a visible difference. I was surprised that, even with Zak here it was three days before I had one small bag of garbage of non-recyclables to take to the dumpster. We often have had a bag a day to take down. My goal is one small bag per week.

1 comment:

newwaytowrite said...

We asked our regular grocery store when they were going to eliminate plastic bags.
Apparently their "plastic" bags are corn based and biodegradable.

We take our own bags to the store. Have done so pretty much for as long as we have been out here. Sometimes we have forgotten them but not so much anymore. Tired of fighting with all the plastic bags.

Hope some warmth comes your way, soon!