Tuesday, 25 September 2007

How to Reduce Plastic Use

Even when I buy lunch from the organic shop near my office, most of the products are wrapped in some form of plastic. Plastic gets everywhere. When its disposed it often finds its way into the sea where it can end up part of the Garbage Patch (please follow that link!). We need to reduce our dependence on plastics, here are some ways to start:

Refuse plastic carrier bags in shops - take your own reusable fabric carrier bag - I have two in my handbag so that even the most unexpected purchase can be carried home without a plastic carrier.

Avoid products that are packaged in plastic

When possible if buying vegetables, avoid putting them in plastic bags. This is easiest with items such as courgettes, which are often bought singly and are relatively clean. If you have a choice use small paper bags to wrap veg in rather than plastic bags. Cosider taking your own reusable produce bags.

Paper bags of course lead to litter too, but paper is biodegradeable and doesn't accumulate in oceans and destroy whole colonies of sea creatures. Ideally minimise all packaging and recycle or reuse whatever packaging materials you can recycle.

Another way to avoid so much packaging is to buy less stuff.

Some blogs committed to reducing use of plastics:

Fake Plastic Fish
Bring Your Own
Conserve Plastic Bags
Make A Bag
Bean Sprouts recently shared Ten Things You Didn't Know About Plastic Bags.


Larry Kollar said...

Reusing the bags is only a stopgap — it delays but does not avoid the eventual trip to the landfill... just thought I'd throw that out since the Fetched family reuses bags quite a bit.

Mrs. Fetched pointed out that veggies in a plastic bag "go through a sweat cycle" — the upshot is that they spoil quicker — so there's another benefit to not putting your produce in plastic bags.

Crafty Green Poet said...

You're entirely right farfetched on both counts. The recycling the plastic bag though does at least delay throwing them out and it also may reduce the number used. I'm currently really trying to cut down how many I pick up at all.

Veg do sweat in plastic bags, specially mushrooms. Yuck!

shadows and clouds said...

what an interesting and sad article you linked to. i always try to do shopping with a cotton shopping bag, and i volunteer in a fair trade shop where we only have paper or cotton but make people pay for big paper bags to try to remind them to bring their own cotton shoppers. it does actually work. littering is also a huge problem i despise, as a child my pockets were always lined with bits that i wouldn't throw down, waiting for a bin ...just the other day i saw an elderly man throwing down sweet wrappers on the street, it was so disheartening ...there should be big and strict fines for things like that, and more promotion of environmentally neutral or positive actions...

Mark said...

I went on hoilday to the South of France this year and was impressed that in their supermarkets if you want a bag you had to pay for it.
Everyone had their own bags and it was not a problem. I know they are trying to do it here but people seem really reluctant to change to this and it is difficult to know why.

Cheers Mark

Crafty Green Poet said...

Na - i hate littering too - I have always carried litter round in my pocket until I find a bin

Mark - yes I never understand why people here are so attached to their plastic bags.

Larry Kollar said...

Heh, yuck indeed! I like the BYObag idea, but when we get groceries, we usually get a cart-load… so we'd probably need 20 of those reusable totes I see for sale in the grocery stores. Mrs. Fetched's mom could make some high-capacity canvas bags, though… she has the sewing machine for it. I should look into that.

Clare said...

Hi Crafty -- Thank you for the important reminders and links. The amount of plastic produced, used and discarded is beyond staggering. The planet is drowning in it.

Jo said...

Having two sons my favourite bugbear is the packaging that toys, etc, come in. It's toxic, dangerous and totally over the top, whole damn industry in itself.

Janice Thomson said...

I knew it was bad in the ocean but not to that extreme...thanks for the link Juliet...this is something all people should read! Here I use plastic but it is a crate for the bigger shops and then serves as a storage unit later. Man in all his wonderful technology never stops to think of the possible consequences of his actions.

Anonymous said...

One would think with all our techno- know-how we could figure out how to deal with plastics once used. We do have plastic recycling (even in MT) but not for bags. Thanks for this article.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Farfetched - how about crates (see Janice's comment)? I know many of them are plastic but they are reusable.

Clare - drowning in plastic, indeed!

Jo - toy packaging is unbelievable, well actually plastic toys themselves - toxic toys for children to chew on!

Janice - the crates are useful for big loads and reusable. I am constantly amazed how humankind doesn't stop to think of consequences.

Quietpaths - yes, strange what we fail to use our know how for! I don't know anywhere that actually recycles plastic carriers, though some shops have bins to collect old carriers for reuse.

olivia said...

Great post Crafty Green Poet ... followed you over from FARfetched.

Larry Kollar said...

Crates… that's a great idea, and I already have one (which is going to get attached to the motorcycle as soon as I get a cargo rack to mount it on, but that's another story). The only drawback I can see to crates is that they don't collapse or stack inside each other when not in use, which makes them hard to carry around. You can wad up 20 bags and cram them in a pocket.

I had a thought this morning… if you were to open up a bag by cutting down each side, you could roll it up and use it for weaving. I wonder how many bags it would take to make a basket. ;-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

FarFetched - yes that is a problem with crates. I don't know how to cope with bulk buying at all, we're lucky here to be able to shop in small quantities from small local shops and suppliers. So my two fabric bags in my handbag are always enough! There's someone has a blog about weaving things from plastic bags - if I find the link I'll send it to you!

trancilicious said...

hi... i ve got a query. im doing most of the stuff that u guys have been advising about. but what about trash bins..? especially in the kitchen we keep plastic bags in the trash can (instead of throwing the stuff directly into the kitchen trash can) and when it fills up we take it out right? is there a non-plastic alternative for that/
i could really use some advice on this one..


Crafty Green Poet said...

trancilicious - this can be a challenge, if waste is dry, then you can use paper bags, if waste may be damp - eg bathroom or kitchen waste then you can buy waste bags made from soya, they look like plastic and behave like plastic but biodegrade.

K.C. Woolf said...

I recently saw a documentary about the amount of plastic waste in oceans all over the world.

The topic's finally receiving more attention now.