Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stop using plastics today

“It’s safe to say that plastics with the resin code 3-7 are not recyclable and should be avoided by consumers,” says Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste.

#1 and #2 plastics can be downcycled into such things as picnic tables and decks. Preserve turns #5 yogurt cups into toothbrushes and razors. Basically, there is no domestic market for #3-#7 plastics or for plastic wrap. Equally important: DC and VA are burning garbage to create energy, which means that plastics (and batteries) are being burned and are polluting. Here are ten things one could do to stop using plastics, end the plastics market, and create new sustainable markets:

1) Avoid using plastic wrap.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator in bowls covered with a saucer or plate. Alternatively, use Pyrex glass storage containers, which are very sturdy and union made. For sandwiches, you can even make your own reusable sandwich bags.

2) Avoid plastic silverware, plates, and salad containers at lunch.
I'm the worst offender on this front. I have been trying for months to get around to doing this. My goal this semester is to bring some silverware (or bamboo To-Go Ware) to work. Also, I should just bring my lunch, since there are no bring-your-own plate options where I work (wish there were!). The House of Representatives' office buildings have corn silverware, which they have composted. You have to commercially compost corn silverware and other compostable products.

3) Avoid plastic yogurt containers.
See previous post on 12/31 on making your own yogurt (in a glass container). It's super easy.

4) Avoid plastic water bottles.
Yes, it is good to reuse plastic water bottles. However, it seems even better to get a stainless steel water bottle (such as Kleen Kanteen) or glass water bottle (such as Lifefactory discussed on another website).

5) Bring your own mug to the cafe.
Of course, great cafes have ceramic mugs. If your great cafe doesn't, you can avoid the plastic "adult sippy cup" lid by bringing your own mug. A few years back, I bought myself a ceramic travel mug with a lid.

6) Bring your own vegetable bags to the grocery store.
You can bring your previously used bags or purchase some reusable bags.

7) Buy in bulk.
Many coops (like Takoma Park-Silver Spring Coop) and other grocery stores (Yes! Market) have bulk bins with grains, dried fruit, spices, etc. Maybe you can bring in pre-weighed glass jars and containers, rather than using plastic bags?

8) Buy milk in glass bottles.
South Mountain Creamery delivers milk in glass bottles to your door in the District. P&C Market at Lincoln Park on the Hill sells delicious milk in returnable glass bottles, though it might be seen as expensive. Here's a list of dairies that use glass bottles.

9) Say goodbye to straws.
I know that many have revolted by this point... No, you can get a glass straw!

10) Say goodbye to plastic garbage bags?
Well, I made the brilliant decision to get a garbage can that uses plastic grocery bags right before DC implemented the 5 cent bag tax. I still use the various plastic grocery bags I come across. One could use bioplastic bags, such as BioBag or Bag-to-Nature bags. However, since a lot of us are noticing that we have very little garbage because there is so much that DC government recycles, we could just roll up our garbage in some newspaper and say goodbye to plastic garbage bags altogether.

After writing this, I found this great blog, Life Less Plastic, which has even more ideas. Do you have some other ideas about how to reduce our plastic footprint?


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