Monday, 18 August 2008

So, Plastic Is Not So Fantastic

One of my friends wrote an ace piece for Sunday Magazine a couple of weeks back. It detailed just how much of the stuff we buy everyday is wrapped in plastic. Things that I (ashamed as I am to admit it) had never thought about. Bread - plastic. Cereal - yes, it does come in a cardboard box, but it's in a plastic inner bag. Yoghurt - plastic. Biscuits - not only are they usually in plastic, but they're also in a plastic tray. Come on - they're not Laura Palmer - why is everything just wrapped in plastic?

So my friend, Carrie, did an experiment, and attempted to go two weeks without buying anything wrapped in plastic. By no means was this an easy feat.

Morning coffee - hold the plastic lid.

Buying fruit and veg - without the small plastic bags. Yes the people the check-out people do roll their eyes when you approach because your apples invariably roll away - but who cares?

Buy bread from a bakery - and take your own bag.
Try to shop at more organic places - they have large bins of pulses etc, so you can scoop in and take your own containers.

Plastic, plastic, plastic. It's pretty darn ordinary.

On reading this article, it's made me even more aware of everything I am buying. Not that I was walking around in some kind of bubble, but after her experiment, it made me really examine what I was putting in the trolley.

The article also detailed how there are many areas in the ocean just littered with all kinds of plastic debris, toys, bags, bottles etc - some places are at least 70m deep (I am going off memory here, so if you read this and remember better than I - correct me!). So basically the plastic breaks down, the fish mistake it for plankton etc and eat it, then it turns up on your dinner plate. Mmm. How about a piece of plastic with your tuna steak? Anyway, I won't bang on about it - but you can read more about it here - this is not the Sunday Magazine article - but one from Greenpeace's website.

One thing I have done is stocked up on lots of green bags.. But, there's a flaw with these too. They're still made of plastic. Yes, it is recycled plastic, but it's still plastic. So I went exploring with trusty friend, the internet, and ordered some of these great string bags from here some time ago. They are fantastic - you can just pop them in your bag, et voila - when you need them, they're scrunched up small, but they are strong enough to hold all your groceries, they're biodegradable.. And look at those gorgeous colours, sorbets, gelatos - how can you go wrong (and they're pretty darn cheap too).

Honestly, check out people do laugh when they see I have these bags - but lots of people have asked me where they can get themselves some of these bags. Let's start a revolution.

I did read a great tip about a woman who ordered take-away, and when she called up - the people knew her and knew not to put her food into take-away containers, as she'd always bring her own containers to put her food in. Good idea huh?

Anyone else got any plastic-free ideas to share?

Here's mine.. I have so many of the green bags, that sometimes I leave a spare one at the cash register for the person after me - in case they've forgotten to bring their bag. That way, we can all work together and save the planet so our babies can have and enjoy babies too!


Sweet Somethings by Lois said...

What an excellent post.
Good for you!
My hubby and I bought a whole slew of cloth bags and we keep them in the car to use when we go shopping. The hard part is remembering to bring them into the store with us. Usually one of us has to run back to the car to get them when we hit the checkout. That's ok. We will learn, eventually, to take them in automatically.I agree with you that plastic comes in everything. I am not sure how the world is going to solve that one.

Christie said...

I lOVE the Iidea of bringing your own bag to the supermarket, but I'm not a big fan of those green bags because as you say, thay are plastic themselves. I like canvas or string bags too.

We use glass baby bottles at home & glass storeage containers too. We still have plastic stuff around the house but I am trying to get rid of it & I am yet to find a kids lunchbox solution!

We don't get plastic bags where possible at the green grocer, we bring everything home in a cardboard box, but the supermarket stuff is HARD! I would LOVE to try going for 2 weeks without buying any plastic, what a great challenge!

Paper Dolls for Boys said...

Did you shrink your font or are my eyes failing me?

Bec said...

Great post! I always buy the toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper rather than plastic (the SAFE brand) and we do all our staples shopping at the local produce market every Saturday morning, which cuts down heaps on plastic. You just trundle around with your market trolley, or pram loaded up with green bags, and you don't need a plastic bag for anything (and no-one rolls their eyes at you either :P). I also find that just cooking and baking as much as possible at home makes a big difference too! And homemade bikkies in a glass jar are so much nicer than ones that come cradled in plastic anyway :)
Cheers, Bec

handmaiden said...

I have just bought 4 string bags......I remember my mother having these.........they are so small you can always have one in a handbag.

meet me at mikes - crafty! said...

Oh yes.. see you on the walk Miss! xx

Mc Cranky! said...

Great idea leaving a bag at the register, I'll definitely be doing that one. We have way to many of those bags at home. Great post.

lynda said...

love the idea of using a truely green bag and the string bag is a winner.

has anyone else thought cynical thoughts about the supermarkets and their new bag policies... their plastic bag bills have plummeted, we're not using as many, and they now don't print their names on them. we buy green bags off them (which they surely still make good margin on) and sales of bin liners have surged.
it looks like win, win, win to the supermarket!

but what to do with the kitchen bin?
when i deliberately don't take my green bags shopping i find i have to justify myself to the checkout operator and customers around me because i've run out of plastic rubbish bags for my bin that was designed to recycle such bags.

check with your local council, we now have a tiny rubbish bin and a full size recycling bin. (we had been supplied with the opposite) the upgrade to big recycling bin was free and we now have a significantly reduced rubbish charge on our rates.

and christie, it's expensive, but the tupperware big lunchbox is great. it has compartments that never mix, and i've never used plastic wrap inside

CurlyPops said...

We've tried to cut back on all the plastic.
We get our fruit and veg delivered in a big box every fortnight (all jumbled in together) but you put your old box out each time and it gets picked up and re-used.
I stopped buying soft drink and only buy cordial (2L of cordial is much less plastic than 2L of soft drink).
I have the tupperware sandwich containers instead of cling wrap.
Making my own pretty fabric green bags is on my list of things to do!

Pecos Blue said...

That is a great idea and challenge. They are going to start getting rid of bags at the grocery stores. I think that is a good step.

Hoppo Bumpo said...

Great post. (I loved the Laura Palmer reference - how many people will remember that I wonder! My sister and I are always making "wrapped in plastic" jokes.)

And I love string bags!

jodi said...

I use those bags and I love them! They've recently released a nice shade of lavender and best of all they sell them at my local post office.

Hila said...

What I found really annoying when I lived in England, where recycling is more heavily policed by the local councils than it is in Australia, is that the responsibility was placed upon the consumers to do the right thing - and to be punished when they didn't. Nevermind the fact that the producers of the food and products we buy wrap things in a million layers of packaging which are quite frankly needless. Yet somehow, they decided it's our responsibility to dispose of the wrappings properly. How about they just stop the crap and produce things more efficiently? At the end of the day, big companies will make more of a difference than individuals trying to manage their homes.
Anyway, that's my two cents :)

Paper Dolls for Boys said...

And another thing. Send me your address if you please. I'm not sayin' we're ready to send the Wonkatonka Moose package just yet but I am CLOSER to sending it!


Melanie Gray Augustin said...

That's a great post. Here in Japan, as of September 1st, they are going to start charging for plastic bags, which I think is a great idea.

Mind you, everything over here is sooooo over packaged! Just one example, if you buy biscuits, each cookie is individually wrapped, then they are all on a plastic tray and then wrapped again! Drives me nuts!

I'd also recently heard the idea of taking your own container to a takeaway store. I want to try it here, but not sure how I'd go. They get upset enough when I turn down the disposable chopsticks.