If recycling means failure, there’s a whole lot of fail going around at my place. The recycling bag is like the cauldron of plenty. Empty it, wait a few days, and it’s full again. True, recycling is better than tossing, but it’s still not good that we generate this much.
Here’s an abridged list of what was in the recycle bag this week:
- Life cereal box, flattened
- Tom’s of Maine toothpaste box, flattened (why does it need a box when it has a tube inside?)
- Tresemme extra large conditioner plastic bottle (which took me over a year to use up and was bought pre-cosmetics safety freak out)
- Recycled toilet paper roll, flattened
- Plastic organic milk jug
- Oikos plastic yogurt tub
- Three aluminum cat food cans (rambunctious foster kitten ate a lot)
- One ripped plastic bag that can’t be reused and came from my parents
- This week’s grocery circulars, which I don’t look at anyway
- Voter mail, which I looked at for approximately .5 seconds
- Flattened cardboard mailing box
- Last Sunday’s Chronicle newspaper
Not horrible, but clearly we could be doing better. I sat down to think about how we could reduce our recycling output and came up with this list. It doesn’t address everything in our recycle bag, but it’s a start.
- Buy in bulk products that won’t go bad (or that you can use up before they go bad) like dish soap, laundry detergent, vinegar, kitty litter, recycled toilet paper. It’s cheaper and you’ll cut down significantly on packaging.
- Make packaging a consideration in choosing what to buy. If it has more than one layer of packaging, look for another option. Avoid single-serving anything.
- BYOC (bring your own container) whenever possible. Whole Foods sells shampoo, conditioner, and liquid soap in bulk, as well as milk in returnable glass jars, and a whole lot of bulk spices, grains, flours, and nuts.
- Use less. You don’t actually need that much dish soap/shampoo/toilet paper/whatever. The longer your supplies last, the less often you’ll need to buy replacements.
- Make more of your own food and cleaning supplies. Packaged food means, well, packaging. And making your own cleaners out of vinegar, baking soda, and lemons will cut down significantly on the number of plastic-bottled cleaning agents you buy.
- Buy less new stuff. Not only will you cut down on consumer demand that drives manufacturing, you’ll also be spared a new onslaught of styrofoam peanuts, plastic, and cardboard.
- Order less stuff online. Mailing anything larger than a letter requires boxes, padding, and tape. You can and should reuse packing supplies as much as possible, but reducing is always better.
- Reuse old newspapers as kitty litter bags. Or cancel the subscription, although I think good writers and interesting articles are worth supporting. Maybe subscribe online?
What do you think? Any other suggestions for cutting down on packaging waste?