Reuse Now, Clean Up Less Trash Later

As part of Rodale’s Plastic-Free February, I have been looking for items that don’t contain plastic. Although I have not succeeded in avoiding plastic during the first two weeks of February, I have discovered some interesting products.

Grocery stores generate a lot of plastic. Nearly everything in a grocery store comes packed either in plastic (I should have taken a picture of the dolly loaded with crates wrapped with clear plastic) or in cardboard or metal lined with plastic. There are some companies that claim to be lining their cans with plastic free of bisphenol-A, but that claim is disputed.

The one place in the grocery store where a consumer has a choice to use plastic or not is the produce section. And for years, I’ve kept taking the occasional plastic bag, especially the gathered ones, because they can accommodate heads of romaine lettuce. So yes, I’m using plastic, but I’m also reusing it.

Beth Partin's photos, Belief Beyond Bags, green products, reusable bagsI think Belief Beyond Bags (3B Bags) has liberated me. The lettuce in this oversize produce bag is red-leaf lettuce, but romaine would fit in that bag. Each set of bags costs about five bucks and contains one oversize bag. I bought two sets, one for me and one for my husband since we still drive two vehicles (yet another enviro issue).

Two notes on the cardboard packaging stuck in my mind. First: “This product is suitable for packing and carrying produce. It is not suitable for long term storage of produce.” I translate that as, “Don’t store potatoes in this bag all winter.” I fully intend to keep lettuce in these bags in the veggie compartment of my fridge. Second: “Made of 100% nylon. Responsibly made in China.” I realized I didn’t know what nylon is made of, so I looked in the dictionary. Turns out it’s a polyamide, which is derived from ammonia.

So here I am replacing my plastic bags, made from petroleum, with nylon bags, which consist of polyamides, which are made from ammonia, which is a volatile organic compound. An amide is an inorganic compound. I don’t know what that means for the environment. Perhaps nylon production is a toxic process. In any case, it is better to use fewer bags in the course of a year. Perhaps I should have looked for bags made closer to home, but I was in Vitamin Cottage (a Colorado-based company) and there they were.

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Another item I was thrilled to find at Vitamin Cottage was this dental floss packaged in cardboard. I have never understood why floss cannot be bought in bulk, but since it can’t, I’ll use this one. It’s as sturdy as the King Sooper’s brand of dental floss, though not quite as sturdy as Glide Floss. It fits easily between my teeth, and it’s “Vegan Waxed!” I’m not sure why that warrants an exclamation point.

Gentle Floss is not completely plastic-free: The floss itself is kept in a plastic bag. But it uses less plastic than those hard plastic dental floss dispensers, and its plastic is recyclable. At 100 yards, it will last longer than a typical Glide Floss, thus making it more economical.Beth Partin's photos, Eco-Dent Gentle Floss, AirPouch EarthAware recycled film

I’m less thrilled by the AirPouch EarthAware packaging. I suppose I should be grateful that it is made from recycled film, but I still believe companies should eliminate plastic packaging wherever possible, even if the alternative is less convenient for the corporation or the consumer.

How is this restoration?

It’s future restoration. Right now, we need to recycle plastic and eliminate plastic packaging and clean up plastic waste wherever we find it, even in the middle of the Pacific. But our current efforts must be matched by reducing our own use of plastic so there will be much less plastic to clean up and recycle in the future. Even the AirPouch does that to some extent.