Thursday, 21 October 2010

Plastic is (not) fantastic

I have an uneasy relationship with plastic. Things that used to be in glass bottles now are in plastic. Glass bottles may have plastic lids. You cant escape it. Things rarely come in boxes anymore. Just more bloody plastic bags. I am quite proud of how little we throw away--just one black bin bag every 3-4 weeks.  I want to be a really committed environmentalist and say “if it comes in a plastic that cant be recycled then I wont buy it.” But I cant. Or rather I don’t want to. These are a list of all the plastic we have to throw away. This is the sum total of what goes into our bin.

Plastic bags that contained:
Rice (we buy white and brown)
Nuts (we buy cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
Bulgur wheat
Pasta (we buy several shapes)
Dried fruit (coconut, apricots, cranberries)
Frozen veg (peas, corn and edamame)
Frozen fruit (in winter when we cant get fresh and freeze ourselves we buy frozen cherries, blackberries and raspberries for smoothies)
Recycled toilet paper
Small bags of sugar snap peas or tenderstem broccoli
Bag o spinach leaves for smoothies
Rice cakes
Oat cakes
The bag my organic cotton balls come in

Things that have an annoying non recyclable bit of plastic on an otherwise recyclable product:
That plastic seal on hummus
That plastic seal and lid on bottles of Tabasco sauce
Plastic wrapper on SunMaid raisins--the plastic container is surprisingly useful and we reuse as many as we can and recycle the rest. But not the label which peels off to be able to open it
The screw on lid of tetra packs (juice and oat milk)
The lid on 2 brands of spices (including the fairtrade spices)
The lids on our shampoo bottles

Things that have crinkly wrappers:
Nakd bars (these are raw bars made from nuts and dried fruit like dates and raisins and come in flavours like gingerbread and pecan pie)

Things that come in plastic tubes:
Sun dried tomatoes (not oil packed)

Things that look like foil but really arent and things with that fake foil lining:
Tear off lids to yogurt pots
Bags surrounding tea bags
Hemp seed bag
Flax seed bag
Powdered vegetable stock canister
Engevita nutritional yeast cheese substitute canister
Cocoa powder canister
(these last 3 all have plastic lids that have a number 4--and we cant recycle 3 and 4 locally)
The inner wrapper of my favourite chocolate bar--70% cocoa with chillies

That is what fills our bin every month. These are the only things we throw away. Everything else is recycled, composted or an alternative is bought. I would like to be a better person and decide not to buy these items, but I am weak. Many of these would reduce the amount of food we could eat. Many like the Nakd bars are a wholesome alternative to candy bars and buying them supports a small company in Wales. I just try to look for alternatives where ever possible. Some people are lucky enough to have BULK BINS and they can scoop out many of these things into their own container. We do not so we must make do. I will go out of my way to buy a particular brand if they only pack in a box without a plastic inner liner. So far risotto rice and polenta are the 2 that fit this qualification. Buying produce at the market/green grocer means I can buy loose without a plastic bag. I continue to seek out alternatives.

Are you overflowing with plastic packaging? Is there an alternative? Can you do without it? If you are aware of packaging it might make you buy it less if it is just for a treat. What can you recycle? This is the contents of my bin. Whats in yours?

1 comment:

  1. Oh God! You know it is almost impossible to buy anything that doesn't have plastic in it. Even clothing now comes with plastic tags!