Saturday, September 11, 2010
Aisle 11 - Checkout Challenges: Bags, Packaging and Recycling
* Challenge 32: Kicking the plastic bag habit
* Challenge 33: Packaging: can we get radical?
* Challenge 34: Can the "Three Rs" solve the rubbish crisis?
It is very rare for me to ask for, or accept, plastic or other store bags anymore. We have gradually evolved away from considering this acceptable. Our household collection of reusable shopping bags is quite extensive and the stash in the boot of my car meets our needs. I also have some wonderful eco silk bags that scrunch up small into my handbag, so I am rarely "caught short". I was pleased recently, when we returned to online grocery shopping, to discover they now use biodegradable "non plastic" bags for the delivery - this was one area I felt needed improvement. If I do find myself shopping without a bag, I 'punish' myself by buying another reusable bag from the store, which really works as an incentive to remember!
Packaging is the bane of my life. Wherever possible, I choose products with the least packaging, however some things - printer ink, for example, go overboard (no - I tried refillable ink cartridges and they didn't work for me!) While I can return the cartridges to the office store for recycling, there is still unnecessary plastic and paper around the product.
In my controlled workplace, I am able to completely separate my rubbish at my desk and the one main offender is that thermal, shrink-wrap cellophane they plaster on everything, as well as those awful "clam-shell" packages that encase products and need scissors to remove!
At home, although I choose a lot of packaging that is recyclable card or paper, there are still too many foodstuffs sealed into plastic bags, trays and the like. You cannot always avoid these, especially when shopping for others!
I often think that "waste management" should be added to my paid work job description, let alone my unpaid one! At home, we have three wheely bins provided by local government: general waste; recyclable waste and green waste. As the recyclables are co-mingled, it means we do not need to separate into different mixes - all our steel, aluminium, paper, glass and many plastics end up in the one bin. (I saw on TV recently how they sort this at the other end - quite reassured me!). Green waste is for garden refuse (we compost kitchen waste) and anything else goes into the general bin. We took part in a trial a couple of years ago to use a smaller bin and halve the pick up frequency (from weekly to fortnightly) however at that time our household was too large to cope and we had to revert to the standard. At work, I have general waste and co-mingled recycled, which we have to pay to have collected - sometimes wish I could have a compost option there too, however that pushes my dedication too far!
I also try to "close the loop" as much as possible and buy products containing recycled materials. Even though I strive for a paperless office, we still do need some for handouts etc, so I always look for the 100% recycled printer paper.