Friday, September 7, 2007

Small ways to change

I have a million ideas for post topics, including the history of plastic, the types of plastic that common products use, and the epic battle between paper and plastic. I have a draft with the history of plastic started, but had to set aside the majority of the day to filling out college applications. Look for that post tomorrow.

There are a few things you can do to cut back on the use of plastic. Order your latte in a ceramic mug instead of a to-go cup that uses a plastic lid. If you don't have time to sit with your coffee, bring a travel mug. Almost every coffee shop/stand will pour your beverage into your own container.

Use your own grocery bags. Many large-chain grocery stores now sell these bags in cotton, canvas, or recycled materials near the checkout stand. It's a one-time price to pay for a larger benefit.

Instead of buying individual water bottles daily, try using a more permanent container. Even if you reuse a disposable water bottle 3 times before throwing it away, that amounts to an average of 10 water bottles a month if you drink one bottle daily. Personally, I've been using the same neon green water bottle from Tully's for a year now and avoid disposable bottles entirely. This bottle holds 20oz of water, fits perfectly on my bicycle, and does not leak at all if I toss it in my backpack with my laptop and textbooks. I'll toss it through the dishwasher (or hand wash it) once a week for sanitation purposes. I used to keep a large coffee mug at the desk of my last office job. When it didn't contain tea, I refilled it with water a few times a day.

Reuse produce or Ziploc bags. Currently I have a box full of produce bags that I will use for the next month for produce and bulk items. I've also started rinsing out and reusing Ziploc bags. If they were only used to hold half a bell pepper for 10 hours in the refrigerator, throwing it away is a waste. If I stored a piece of leftover lasagna in a bag instead of a Tupperware container it will probably be another story entirely, but that's what Tupperware is for, right?

Lastly, buy dry goods in bulk if your local store offers it. I can pick up a dozen varieties of beans, dried fruit, granola, seeds, nuts, flour, sugar, and many others. I started reusing produce bags for this purpose, transferring the bulk items to glass jars once I got home. I also take advantage of lower prices by refilling my herb and spice containers instead of wasting money on new bottles at twice the price.

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