Punked by Plastic

I was punked by plastic. In my grocery shopping adventures Thursday, I cheerfully bought two (minuscule and pricey) glass jars of mustard, and when putting them away, discovered Ambient Plastic (unnecessary extra plastic) bands around the lids. Why? Why is this necessary? (insert existential yawp here.)

I opened the waxed paper bag of salami I bought at the deli counter yesterday, after expressly forbidding the use of plastic in my order, and found the thin blue plastic sheet she used to load up the bag and not get her hand greasy. I guess they always throw that into the customer’s package? I wonder if they couldn’t use some tongs or a fork, because even if they don’t put it in *my* bag, they still used plastic and are still throwing it away (hello, landfill) after one use. (*facepalm*)

Oy vey.

But in good news, I got my new smaller gray garbage can today from ACI. It’s the same size on the outside, with an insert about the size of a three-year old (very handy if you have a Terrible Three undergoing a terrible tantrum)…(I kid!). So far no one in the family has forgotten about the absent kitchen trash can and tossed stuff under the sink. And so far no one has cursed me about the strange healthful foods I brought home yesterday. They will, however, when they ask for pocket money and there is none, because I spent it all on glass-, metal- and paper-packed goodness for their bellies and their futures. I told you they were gonna hate me.

In an errand today, I dropped off two items for dry-cleaning (silk and angora, two items I prefer not to mangle at home). I go to Garden Cleaners on Webster Street. I asked that they use no plastic bag to sheat my cleaned clothes and they assured me that would be no problem; it was written into the computer instructions. And no extra charge. It never hurts to ask. I also told the pharmacist at Kaiser “no bag” when he was trying to shove an already-boxed medication into a plastic envelope for me. Julia, 2, Plastic 1.

I will delve into the plastics problem in the bathroom later this month, but for now I’d like to illustrate a common product issue and how to solve it:

Exhibit A: Bad Plastic. Toilet paper wearing a protective coat of petroleum byproduct.

Exhibit B: No plastic. Toilet paper rolls bought, individually wrapped in recycled/recyclable paper. I compost both the wrapper of the new roll as well as the paper tube of the old roll at the same time. This is the CVS brand of recycled TP, and they often have it on sale. Plus you get those CVS Extra Bucks for buying the store brand and sometimes that leads to extra coupons or cash back. (Note: CVS also carried Crystal Dairy products, a California dairy.)

Exhibit C: Two versions of the same product, with some plastic, and with Bad Plastic. I use Claritin (generic) for allergies. Buying the box of 30 or fewer pills means several sheets of non-recyclable plastic-and-foil-wrapped pills. Buying the bottle of 30, 60 or more means one plastic bottle, recyclable. It’s all about choosing wisely.

Comment Follow-Ups

  • Jon mentioned that oatmeal comes in cardboard containers — albeit with a plastic lid. I didn’t buy any yesterday but it’s one of our staples here. If I buy it in bulk, I will take along an empty oatmeal container, and avoid the extra plastic, so thanks, Jon, and duly noted. Also, though individual packets of instant oatmeal are generally enveloped in paper, the product itself (instant oatmeal) has been found with traces of mercury, so I buy just the basic old-fashioned rolled oats. I prefer my breakfast without mercury or cancer, thanks.
  • Wendy asked where I found mayonnaise with a metal lid, and doh! I forgot about the lid. Looks like I bought a glass jar with a plastic lid. Plastic, 2, Julia 2.

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3 Replies to “Punked by Plastic”

  1. 1. There was an ad for super-strength hefty bags next to this post when I loaded it up. It was a little awkward. I posted a screenshot on FB for you.

    2. I downsized my garbage can today, thank you for the tip.

    3. the CVS email newsletter has weekly-or-so $5 off $25 or 25% off coupons. And I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but the new red scanners they got? You run your CVS card under it and it prints out a targeted coupon for you. They are actually occasionally useful for what I was intending to buy anyway.

  2. I was so very dismayed to learn that the thermal paper often used for cash register receipts… is coated in BPA. Nggggh. It’s enough to give a girl a complex.

  3. It really does not take much reorientation of priorities to start making an impact and reducing one’s consumption of plastic and excess packaging.

    I doubt that any of us can achieve absolute ideological and environmental purity without abandoning life in the city, but we can certainly make a difference fairly quickly by living more consciously. It does take effort and will power, but there are rewards, as Julia is demonstrating, despite the occasional “losses.” If you have to buy stuff in plastic bags or plastic jars, there are ways to “redeem” them, too, as follows…

    There is one advantage to plastic jars with plastic lids (peanut butter and mayo-sized, etc., especially): they are MUCH safer for organizing and storing nails, screws, small bike parts, and other assorted objects than their glass brethren. They are recyclable, too, if they crack or develop holes. Most importantly, they will not break catastrophically when dropped on a concrete garage floor and cause injury. (Glass is dangerous.)

    Bonus tip for cyclists: us a large (half-gallon or bigger) plastic jar with a tight lid for talcum-powdering your spare bike inner tubes before stashing them in your on-bike tool bag or your bike repair tool box.
    Put a few teaspoons of talc in the jar, add a loosely-folded inner tube, and “shake ‘n’ bake.) Wrap the powdered tube in a (reused) plastic baggie or a rag so it installs much more easily when you have to fix a flat. (The talc helps the tube glide around inside the tire, which also reduces the odds of an installation-caused pinch flat.)

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