Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rambling: Plastic Wars

I posted previously about the movie Bag It!, and its unprecedented success in getting us to try to cut down on the use of plastic, especially single use disposable plastic.

Boy, we use a lot of plastic:
  • Even when we use the butcher's counter, where we avoid those foam trays, the chicken for this weekend's fried chicken was dumped in a plastic bag before being wrapped in butcher's paper. Theoretical solution: Ask for no plastic bag, and have something waterproof in the car to put the chicken in when it leaks through the paper before making it home?
  • Packs of unhealthy little tiny doughnuts come wrapped in plastic. This is sad; I like unhealthy little tiny doughnuts. Looks like I need to find a real live bakery. With paper bags. Or can we bring our own washable container to a bakery?
  • Many candy bars are wrapped in plastic these days, aren't they? Lindt and the other alarmingly priced ones still seems to be wrapped in paper and foil, but I seem to recall that Reese's and many others are now in plastic. And I think that Lindt chocolate balls have some plastic in the wrapping.
  • Oil (fried chicken!) is usually packaged in plastic bottles. Looks like we have another reason to buy the expensive organic stuff in the glass bottles. 
  • Darn near everything - CDs, DVDs, cables, everything packaged in, well, packaging seems to have an outer coating of plastic. I understand the value - it keeps the item or its prettier packaging from getting shopworn. Or it keeps it from getting tampered with. I get it. But now I'm opposed to it anyway.
  • Mailorder clothes come in plastic bags. Are there any companies that don't wrap them that way?
  • A lot of Chinese food comes in lidded plastic containers instead of those paper boxes. They do have the boxes for rice - I wonder if we can request paper boxes for the other food?
We did make a nice discovery in the plastic bag avoidance realm, though. While I love Chico bags, I'm always annoyed by the short handles. (Yes, I realize that plastic grocery bags also have short handles, so this is not a legitimate complaint about using Chico bags for a replacement. I never said I was logical.) We just discovered that Chico is making a sling bag that can be carried mailbag style. As a bonus, it's also made almost entirely of recycled materials.

Yes, I'm as bad as an ex-smoker right now. I'm calling that OK as long as I don't go scolding other people.


  1. One of my sisters is a doctor and spent some time working for Public Health. They did some tests and found that there is more nutritional value in a crisp packet than in the crisps themselves!

  2. My husband and I are trying to be better to the environment. We're recycling now, and we didn't before. Our part of NC isn't the most recycling-friendly place. The law just changed though, and they made it mandatory to recycle certain things. Which is awesome! They dropped off the recycling box, and have people to come pick it up. Our garbage has gone from a few bags a week to one or two.

  3. oh I like that new Chico bag - thanks for the link!

  4. I found some bags at Old Navy (around Christmas time) that roll up into little balls (similar to the chico bag) supposed to have been from recycled materials, but they have great handles and I sling them over my shoulder. I love my long straps... it's so much easier for making only one trip from the car than plastic EVER was. They are so sturdy too.
    Anyhow, I was shopping (window/dreaming counts, right??) on Amazon.com the other day and found a couple other companies that are a little less pricey than the chico bags, roll up tiny for convenience AND have long handles to toss over the shoulder. Oh, and even a couple use recycled plastic materials to make the bags (but are totally not plastics).
    One plastic you didn't mention that is my little (big) pet peeve- the plastic sheets of "paper" between slices of cheese when I order cheese at the deli in the supermarket. EVERY time, I have to ask for no plastic sheets and EVERY time I have to explain that I don't want to add to the plastic geysers in the oceans (among other reasons). And yes, you can always bring your own containers to the bakery- you might get a weird look or a couple questions, but they will always accommodate a customer. Same goes for the Chinese food (however I do tend to re-use the soup containers for my homemade chicken stock).

  5. Hey, ID! Yeah, I can believe that. :) The foil ones, especially, should have minerals, right?

    Howdy, Kyna! Yep, I've gotten so used to curbside recycling that it's hard to imagine having to haul things to the recycling center - my mother still has to haul hers.

    Hey, Frida! It's a really nice bag. I'm tempted to get a couple more.

    Yo, Michelle! This particular Chico bag also has the long strap. I love long straps.

    Oh, yeah - are those little glassine-or-whatever-they're-called sheets plastic? I rarely buy deli cheese, but I buy sliced turkey, and they usually wrap a few of those sheets around it.

    I still get a confused look at the grocery when I want to put my food in my own bag, and the Safeway isn't set up for it - there's no place to put your bag. The organic food stores all seem to have self-bagging set up much better.