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Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Throwing things away

I’m lazy. Willie had brought home a big box full of leftover Wheatfields pasty items after he worked on Saturday. He worked at Wheatfields from January to August, and although he loves the stuff, he’s also sick of it. So he didn’t eat any. I’m not sick of it, so I ate my share, and Rick ate some too. But here it is Tuesday, and the remainder is bricklike and unattractive.

I picked up the cardboard box to toss it out. It contained crumbs, a partial scone, and part of another unknown pastry item, maybe an apple thing. I thought “I’m just going to throw this whole thing away. The heck with recycling and being conscious of the environment.”

Then I got it out to the garage. I could perfectly easily put the leftover food bits in the compost instead of in the trash barrel. And if I did that, the box could just as easily go in the cardboard recycling. So that’s what I did – pastry in the compost, box in the recycling.

This time I did the right thing (although more later on the recycling business), but many times I have just consigned things to the landfill when with a few minutes thought I could at least make a more conscious choice in how I dispose of my detritus (=junk).

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  • The turkey came from a nearby farm, in a plastic bag. Coulda been worse.
  • The green beans came in a plastic bag from the grocery store, which wasn’t reusable.
  • The potatoes came in a plastic bag with holes in it, which wasn’t reusable. I should have bought them in bulk and bagged them myself in cloth.
  • Priscilla made the bread. We put the leftovers in a plastic bag. I can reuse that one. Typically I get 3-5 uses out of a bread bag.
  • Gravy – no plastic involved. And by the way, putting a layer of carrots, onions, and celery under the turkey makes a wonderful base for gravy. I’d never done that before.
  • I have to confess to making stuffing from a bag. I wonder if those cellophane-ish bags are biodegradable. I used sage I got out of the garden.
  • The pecans for the pie came in a plastic bag. The chocolate for the pie was wrapped in paper, as were the flour and butter.
  • We put all the leftovers in plastic containers. I have reused those about a million times.

All told, not too bad, and no worse than a typical day.

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Plastic again

I went to Costco today. They’re good about packaging in one way, because they reuse old grocery boxes, or nothing, to pack your stuff in at the cash register. But on the other hand, there are loads of items that are more blisterpacked than normal, like Oil of Olay, and vitamins. You end up wrestling to get your new purchases free and then throwing away a big gob of plastic and plasticized cardboard. I can see why they use plastic to package multiples of one thing together, but why the single bottle of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which already has a double-sealed top?

That cardboard! Does it degrade if it’s encased in a film of plastic? I bet not.

There are a lot of other ecological issues to worry about, and hardly anything to feel good about (e.g., paper bags use up lots of fossil fuel in the making, more, apparently, than plastic bags). So I guess for the time being I’m picking this one. I’m just going to keep paying attention to the trash I generate.

Last night we had a piece of beef tenderloin for dinner. I had bought a big huge one from Costco, cut it in three pieces, and froze two of them. It came in a big cryo-vac (read plastic) bag. I put it in two more plastic bags. I cooked the beef, and put the leftovers in a (reusable, at least) plastic box. We also had mashed potatoes. Yay! The potatoes came in all their nakedness from the Merc. Same for the broccoli. We had Lindor truffles for dessert. Cellophane wrapping, plasticked paper bag. (Incidentally, the Merc puts most of its deli items in cardboard boxes, not plastic.)

I know, this seems boring. And if I keep doing it, it will become quite repetitive. But if I don’t look at these details I’ll keep acquiring and throwing away more and more of this stuff. IT NEVER GOES AWAY!

I want everyone to pay attention to this. For one thing, unless you live a totally austere existence out in the woods somewhere, you’re going to be using and throwing away plastic. So if we all start paying attention, and complaining or buying less-packaged items, maybe manufacturers will respond by using less. Am I being naive or overly idealistic?

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I’ve been thinking about plastic a lot lately, what with the cloth diaper question and the piles of fertilizer bags behind my mother-in-law’s house, among other things.

Oops, I didn’t write about those HERE, did I? My mother-in-law and her husband have a big field up behind their house. Bob was a landscaper for all of his working life. Starting in the late 60’s, he dumped work-related trash in a hole in that field – fertilizer bags, plastic nursery pots, etc. Recently he made a big project of clearing the field of cedars and discovered his dump again. He was astounded to find that the plastic was as good as new. String holding the bags together had rotted away, but the printed plastic could just have been washed off and reused. He was shocked.

So that’s one of the reasons I’ve been thinking about plastic. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.

I ran out of dental floss recently. So I threw the plastic dispenser away and bought some more. It came in another plastic dispenser, of course, which was itself blister-packed in plastic on a plasticized piece of cardboard. Threw it in the trash.

Night before last, friends and relatives came over for supper, bringing take-out from La Parrilla, yum. Styrofoam containers in plastic Thank You bags, as everywhere. In the trash.

We went out for dinner last night. Goodness knows what plastic they used. I’m just considering my own.

This morning I used up the last of the shampoo. The recycling center doesn’t take this kind of plastic. Wastebasket. I did reuse the pump in the new bottle.

Tonight we had ravioli from Costco. It was delicious. It came in a plastic sort of bin. Not recyclable.* I made a quick sauce of canned diced herbed tomatoes, frozen pesto, and a spot of half-and-half. I had made the pesto from basil I grew in the front yard. I froze it in some of those plastic party “glasses” that you always buy too many of. (More about that in another post.) I melted the plastic slightly when I was thawing the pesto, so it’s also trash. At least the tin can is fully recyclable.

There’s more, but it’s bugging me to write it all down. You get the picture. What’s in your wastebasket. Just as bad as mine, I bet.

*I hate it when packaging tells you it’s recyclable. It might not be in your local recycling center, and even if it is, it’s still trash. Better to use packaging made from recycled materials. Even better to use little or no packaging.

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