Sunday musing

June 5, 2011|Posted in: Challenge Update, family, food, Food Stamps, frugal, green, My World and Welcome to It, plastic

One of the pleasures of a Sunday morning (besides a tasty bowl of cereal) is the newspaper, that fat bundle lying like a gift on the front step. I (heart) the Sunday paper. The nice delivery person, a mystery visitor to our home once a week, leaves the paper on the front step, so close to the door that I could fetch it bare nekkid and still be OK. So why does s/he feel the need to wrap it in plastic? Not just on rainy days, but every week?
Note to self: contact San Francisco Chronicle and have the plastic bags stopped. The worst thing that could happen without the bag is that my paper gets wet, and guess what? It will dry. I know sometimes they put little samples of Tide or gum or something in the bag. Guess what? I don’t want that stuff, either. Which reminds me: I should also call my local newspapers that deliver once a week and ask for no plastic bags.

I know some people use these slender bags for dog poop pick-up (yay for using them a second time!). I vastly appreciate the picking up of dog poop by the owner and do not like having to clean up after irresponsible folks who let their dogs roam free to poop, willy-nilly, on my lawn. However, wrapping dog poo in plastic only makes it easy on you. It’s not actually good for the planet. Consider taking a few sheets of newspaper instead, so that the little package you pick up has a chance of decomposing a little more easily. It’s just a suggestion; don’t hate me.
Another much more annoying item on the front walk is the plastic-sheathed Kohl’s circular, delivered with annoying frequency — two or three times a week, it seems? Come on — how much stuff do you have to sell, and how many times do you think I will read about it? Word: I never read it, and have always, previously, just thrown it in the garbage, being too annoyed even to strip the plastic and recycle the paper. Note to self: Contact Kohl’s, track down who is making these local deliveries, and demand that they stop dropping this on my walk. If I have any success, I promise to post it here, for your benefit. (There, now you don’t hate me as much.)
Also today: Mr. Husband came home with fast food from Taco Bell, and made sure to avoid anything (like the nachos or enchirito) with a plastic tray. His paper food wraps are all compostable, but he was given a lid and straw with his drink. The hot sauce packets are foil, but he said no to those and a spork (plastic, also wrapped in plastic), since we already have taco sauce packets at home and regular silverware. I’m not recommending fast food, but if you do eat it, there are ways to reduce the plastic. I’d call the score even on this one — avoided some plastic, punked by some plastic.

I’m going to have to sit and look over our budget for the month of June, because money-wise, buying food without plastics has already proven to be more expensive. It’s also proving more time-consuming, re cooking and snacking from scratch, as well as much healthier. But money is money. Our food budget for 5 people is usually less than $500 per month. It tops out at about $800, with more mouths and fancier food during the holidays (Dungenness crab, hello!), but usually we do pretty well. If buying better food in order to avoid plastic is a new direction for us, I will have to seriously consider other budget items: gasoline, cable TV, entertainment, pocket money, and other semi-flexible expenses.

On the other hand, forays to Taco Bell notwithstanding, we are eating like kings. Delicious cantaloupe and berries, fresh salami on whole grain baguettes, local dairy butter, olive oil, wonderful turnips, carrots, kale and bok choy, and the occasional gourmet potato chip or mint Milano. No complaints as to quality, while a year ago, on the Food Stamp Challenge, we were eating hot dogs, cheap cuts of chicken, and lots of starch.

If eating well and helping to keep some plastic from the waste stream is the end result of this Challenge, then “no plastic” may well become a lifelong change.

Results:
I called the San Francisco Chronicle (800-310-2455) and they put a note to my distributor to ditch the plastic bag. Julia 5, plastics 2.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of "Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop" and "Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News" (rep'd by Booktrope). She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. Her articles have appeared in Thrillist, Quill, Paste, San Francisco Chronicle, and in many magazines; her latest poetry appears in The East Bay Literary review.

4 Comments

  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    Kameshwari
    June 6, 2011

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    I am relatively new to your blog, but want to express my appreciation and gratitude for the multitude of suggestions and examples that you give for recycling. Each blog paints a brilliant scene of actions around recycling.

    Is it possible that you might give some summer camping suggestions for bringing items that will produce little or no waste? We are already on our way to some low waste ideas, like making sun tea in recycled glass Lakewood bottles, and freezing many home-prepped foods in recycled containers. I pack leftovers and restaurant carry-outs in the India train lunch-inspired stainless containers. I make rice, quinoa and millet at camp side. I still have waste, but flatten all wrappers and carry out our compost and whatever small amount of trash I create. For some reason, I have no desire to have the National Parks system be responsible for my trash. So, ideas for low impact meal prep at camp sites, please.

    I appreciate that you brought up the Kohl’s plastic assault that comes several times a week. I am currently in Wisconsin and will call Kohl’s tomorrow.

    Thank you for all of the technical help.

    Your family loves you!

  2. noreply@blogger.com'

    Anonymous
    June 6, 2011

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    Kudos to you! I’m also in the Bay Area and just wanted to recommend Straus Family Creamery milk in glass bottles that one then returns (to Real Foods or Whole Foods or various local markets) for the $1.50 deposit back. It’s the best milk I’ve ever tasted. St. Benoit yogurt does the same thing. (Little ceramic jars.) Unfortunately, both cost more than the plastic-wrapped alternatives, but on the flip side, both are far, far, far more delicious!

  3. noreply@blogger.com'

    Denise Shelton
    June 6, 2011

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    One of the most insidious uses of plastic is the plastic labels on fruit! Here you’re being all good and buying whole fruit, packing it up in your cloth grocery bags and the suckers are all stuck with a plastic label that says “Golden Delicious” or whatever. I saw a report that these wreak havoc with the water processing plants, gumming up the filters and costing a lot of money to clean. SAY NO TO PLASTIC FRUIT LABELS!

  4. noreply@blogger.com'

    Jon Spangler
    June 6, 2011

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    I fixed an all-from-the-Farmer’s Market dinner last night (not to unusual here): steamed kale (reheated) and an omelette with mushrooms, onion, and garlic. The kale came home in a plastic bag that I had previously washed and reused, the garlic and onion just got dropped into my canvas shopping bag, and the eggs came in a cardboard container.

    The organic mushrooms from Ybarra Farms came in their own (new-to-me) plastic bag, which I will wash and reuse. I’m not sure how to score the plastic bags (reused and to-be-reused) but I like the fact that we’re already a long way from using “new” plastic bags or plastic wrap on everything just by shopping at the Farmer’s Market and washing/reusing plastic produce and carry bags until they get hole-y and are recycled.

    I lost a few points by buying Foster farms drumsticks at the store yesterday, though: the styrofoam tray and the non-reusable plastic wrap
    cost me big-time points, but OTOH I did not burn much extra gas by shopping at a store that was on our way home from church and combined with a stop for prescriptions at a nearby store.

    Driving to the Alameda Marketplace would have cost more petroleum and GHG emissions, but I could have patronized the meat counter at the Chestnut-Encinal Market, also on the way home. It would have meant another stop and start cycle, though. Decisions, decisions…

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