Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Surprisingly, I haven’t been buying much at the grocery store.  Maybe that’s just because sometimes I feel I have to stock up, even when we have plenty of food.

I tend to look at the trash we generate, without necessarily looking at what I bring into the house.   A couple of days ago I brought in:

  • Two plastic trays of fresh sushi.  This was an impulse purchase.  My sister Priscilla will re-use the trays to put under her orchids, but that’s not a long-term solution.  I love that take-out sushi, but I think it generates too much plastic.
  • A head of lettuce, wrapped with a big twisty tie.  I don’t take a plastic bag for lettuce when I’m in the store, and I’m not sure why it’s necessary.  Mine doesn’t seem to dry out in the fridge.
  • A bag of Wakarusa Valley salad mix.  This stuff is great, and it’s local, but it does bring in a plastic bag.
  • A pint carton of half and half.  The container has a cardboard-like appearance, but I think it’s coated in plastic.
  • A box of Drumsticks.  Cardboard box, plasticky packaging on each Drumstick.  I know nothing about the biodegradability of this flimsy plastic stuff.  You don’t see it around in the way that you see the ubiquitous shopping bag.
  • Two lemons.  Packaging free!
  • One avocado.  Ditto!
  • Spaghetti noodles, in cellophane, much like the Drumstick packaging.  I need more information about this.
  • Cat litter.  Now, this is a real problem.  Regular cat litter may seem to be biodegradable, but it apparently is a big resource hog to mine and manufacture.  Then it often comes with fragrance and whatever other chemical doodah they feel is necessary.  Many kinds are purchasable in a plastic jug.  The kind I got is made from corn and seems to be harmless.  We’ll see what the cat thinks.  But it comes in a big plastic ziplock bag.  And then, what the heck do we do with it after the cat is done with it?  We have 79 acres, and so we could dump it out somewhere on the property, but I wonder if that would come back to haunt us.

    The neighbor dogs have been hanging around here for a couple of days, spending the night on our porch, going for walks with us, and generally acting as though they live here.  Thus, the cat is afraid to go outside, leading to increased litter box use.

How is it that I always get so far afield from the beginning of a blog post?  Back to the shopping trip—too much of what I brought home is overpackaged, or unsustainably packaged.  How do we change this, in addition to simply paying attention?

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A couple of weeks ago I bought new socks and was so irritated at the packaging that I meant to write a post about them. But, as happens with so many possible posts, it slid right out of my mind.

Yesterday I bought more socks. (After Thanksgiving some of my socks traveled to another city.) Whoa! Totally different packaging!

The first 3-pack came in the plastic hanger that I think of as normal for sock packages:

Plastic sock packaging

This strikes me as way up on the top of the useless scale. Its purpose is purely for selling socks – keeping them together, keeping single pairs from being stolen, and displaying them on the rack. Once the socks are purchased, the hanger is worthless. I can’t even put it in the plastic recycling, because it doesn’t have a recycling number. Even if it did, I doubt that the recycling center would take it.

The socks I bought yesterday came in a cardboard package:

cardboard sock packaging

There’s a teeny plastic hanger at the top, but otherwise some very clever packaging person has managed to make a sock holder entirely out of a single piece of lightweight cardboard. It has fingers that hold the socks together, and the band that wraps around the bottom contains a picture and the size information.

As I’ve been writing about plastic lately, I’ve been more and more aware of it in the stores. I still buy things that come in plastic, but I’m making an effort to buy less and to make better decisions. In our consumer culture we have a huge range of choices available to us everywhere we shop. When we go shopping, unless we already know what brand, size, and variant of item we want, we have to study all the choices. (Shampoo springs to mind, but I’m not going to write about it now.) When I was choosing socks, I could have gone with a 3-pack of three colors (black, brown, grey), a two-pack from another manufacturer, several possibilities of socks made from different materials (acrylic, cotton, wool, goodness knows what else), other slightly different styles, higher end socks bearing well-known brands, and so on. Now I realize I can also base my choice on packaging, which is the only choice that makes a difference in the long run.

(Got the cardboard packaged socks at Target.)

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I didn’t buy much. But I did go to the grocery store to get milk and coffee and vitamins, and also bought a bunch of other stuff. I didn’t go anywhere else. I think that’s OK.

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