Plastics Make It Possible

July 1, 2010 at 11:21 AM 10 comments

Remember that ad campaign? Apparently it’s still around and now has its own website under the same name.

Last weekend, we watched No Impact Man, a documentary about a man and his family who set out to live without any net impact on the environment for 365 days. I first heard about the documentary on Young House Love, and I’m glad it piqued my interest. It opened my eyes to all the waste we discard every day. Really, why does everything we buy have to be packaged in plastic? Why do we use those crummy produce bags at the grocery store instead of something reusable like this

This past weekend, we also bought new bins for separating our recycling. We used to half-heartedly recycle, because we were too lazy to find recycling bins that worked for us. Now that we separate out all our plastics/packaging (including aluminum, styrofoam, etc.) and paper, we discovered most of the rest of our trash is compostable. There’s a bin for compost in our trash area downstairs. However, the idea of having a can of nasty rotting food in my kitchen disgusted me – that is until I (somewhat slowly) made the connection that that’s what the kitchen trash is anyway. Because I don’t want to have to scrape out a trash can full of rotting food gunk everytime we take the bin down to the compost, I started researching options and found these bags which are biodegradable and compostable. They are made from cornstarch, vegetable oil and other renewable resources ,and they get good consumer reviews.

Additionally, we are looking into storing our leftovers in glass tupperware-like containers like these, because I don’t like the idea that chemicals are probably seeping into my food from the plastic. And unfortunately, while doing research yesterday, I found reports that canned goods are often contaminated with BPA in much higher levels than what was found a few years ago in Nalgene bottles and other plastics. For more information on that, click here to read an article from Consumer Reports, here for information from the Environmental Working Group, and/or here for an article from NPR.

It is interesting how this whole change in attitude began. I think it started with our car breaking down, so thank you, Nissan, for the manufacturer defect. Ironically, this is the description of the defect according to “The fuel pump terminal on the fuel-sending unit can develop a crack in the plastic molding. this can cause the terminal strip to corrode under some environmental conditions.” So for us, plastics made it possible for our eyes to be opened to change.

As a result of being carless for 22 days (we just got it back on Tuesday), we wound up buying bikes and learning the joy of biking around to dinners and errands nearby. Second, I want to thank whomever dumped too many recylables into our stairwell’s trash bin, which resulted in us getting two bad notices from the community. If we had gotten a third, our stairwell would have been in some trouble. From the looks of the recycling bins this morning, everyone has started to do a much better job with their recycling, including us. If we hadn’t gotten those warnings, we probably would not have gone to get separate recycling bins for our packaging and paper. I also want to thank Young House Love for mentioning No Impact Man. Finally, I want to thank No Impact Man, Colin Beaven, and his family for opening our eyes to all the useless waste we leave behind.

A tangent but still relevant part of the change in our perspective derived from our garden, which originally began because we wanted to beautify our building. Once the project took shape, we ended up planting fruits and vegetables instead of a garden full of flowers. Now you can find us working in our garden several times a day, and for us – John especially – it’s an effective stress reliever as well as a great joy in our day. I guess we never believed that we could grow edible fruit and vegetables on our own. Sure, we could have a token herb plant here or there, but who knew we would have upwards of 30 growing tomatoes on five little ol’ tomato plants or that we would have harvested four delicious strawberries from just two strawberry plants yesterday.

Moving forward, we want to make the following changes permanent, rather than a passing trend:

  • separate out all plastic/packaging and paper for recycling
  • reduce use of plastic, period
  • compost
  • use only reusable produce bags
  • minimize use of canned goods utilizing liners containing BPA (note: Muir Glen will be switching to metal packaging that doesn’t contain BPA)
  • bike to local restaurant/errands
  • expand our garden
  • buy milk and sodas in glass containers (in Germany you can return these for a deposit refund)
  • buy local when possible and use seasonal fruits and vegetables

I would also like to switch to mineral make up. Does anyone have any recommendations?


Entry filed under: Our Goings On. Tags: , , , , , , , .

It’s Grating On Me ‘Til Gabriel Blows His Horn

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stacie  |  July 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Great that you are trying to make so many changes! I wish the US was more recycle friendly like Germany. Anyway, I would suggest Bare Minerals Makeup. My mom talked me into switching several years ago and I love it. It is kind of expensive, but I don’t use a whole lot so it lasts for a long time!

    • 2. osarah  |  July 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

      Thanks, Stacie! I will check that out.

  • 3. CN Heidelberg  |  July 1, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    If you eat yogurt, you can also buy that here in glass containers – Landliebe brand at least does that, and there may be others. You get a return on them too.

    • 4. osarah  |  July 2, 2010 at 2:21 PM

      Perfect! I will look for that on our next Rewe trip. Thanks!

  • 5. MrsSJohnson  |  July 1, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    We compost and garden too- and the compost doesn’t stink as much as you think it would. I wish Wichita Falls offered more options for recycling- but we can recycle plastic bags/bottles and glass. That’s it. So weird…

    Applaud you on your garden! Jim would agree that it a stress reliever and could spend hours out there. It is the simple things in life that make us happy!

    • 6. osarah  |  July 2, 2010 at 2:23 PM

      Wow, no paper? That IS weird.

      And I do think about Jim often when we’re gardening. I know how much he likes it. I’d love to hear an update on how y’alls garden is coming along this year.

  • 7. recycling bin guy  |  July 1, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    I like the glass tupperwares. It’s really amazing how after you sort out all your recycling, there is generally very little left over.

    • 8. osarah  |  July 2, 2010 at 2:23 PM

      You’re right. It really is. Once we get a bin for our compost, we’re going to have next to no actual trash.

  • 9. Lilly  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    i have these great glass containers I use. They’re vintage pyrex refrigerator dishes. They actually have glass tops instead of plastic. They can be used in the oven as well as microwave. I love heating things up in them in the microwave because you can leave the tops on, since they’re glass, and the food will stay moist.
    You can find them on ebay just doing a search for vintage pyrex refrigerator dishes. They can be a little more pricy than you might want to spend, but they had some really cute designs and last forever. This particular line that I’m talking about were mostly made in the 50s. I think they’re totally worth it 🙂

    • 10. osarah  |  July 2, 2010 at 2:24 PM

      Thanks for the tip! I found out that Pyrex still makes storage containers with glass lids, so even if we don’t want to get the vintage style, we can still get 4 new containers for a decent price. 🙂

      (Although the vintage ones are super cute.)


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