Posts filed under ‘plastic’

Happy Blogiversary

is mah birfday where r caek, dammit!?

… to me! Today is the Closet Environmentalist’s 1st ever blogiversary! Which as you can see I’m celebrating in style with some gratuitous lolcat blogging.

Just look at all we have achieved here:

  • unsolicited expressions of opinion: 66
  • highly appreciated reader comebacks: 441
  • spam comments you never got to see: 2,967
  • eye rolls: 62,938 and counting, only 2 of them from relatives, 6 from friends
  • promises unfulfilled as of yet: 3 so far (photos for this, follow up to this, overall increase of blog awesomeness).

Environmental progress:

  • items crossed off the list: 24
  • plastic bags saved: 1,347
  • carbon-free house moving operations: 2
  • dumpster-diving operations personally engaged in: 1 (yes, you will definitely hear about this! Soon. I promise :D)
  • dumpster items consumed obtained by others: ok, I don’t really know how many, but a lot. Definitely more than 20.
  • individuals lectured on “the environment” in person: 37
  • with visible behavior modification: 16

Thank you all for bearing with me. I owe it all to you! *blowing kisses to all of you*

March 26, 2008 at 11:25 pm 7 comments

Recycling – I told you so!

recycled newsRemember how I said recycling greasy and dirty paper and plastic was worse than not recycling at all? Apparently, I am not the only one. This week, letsrecycle.com, a website that specializes in waste and recycling news of the UK, published a story that confirms it. Chase Plastics, a British recycling company, has called councils to stop collecting plastic film from households.

(Plastic film is a technical term that applies not only to plastic film wrap but all kinds of thin, soft plastics, like pretty much every kind of wrapper there is, from the toilet paper package to plastic bags)

According to Jessica Baker, representing the company, “kerbside collections should be restricted to plastic bottles only”.

“This would reduce the contamination of other materials, such as paper and aluminium, caused by food residues stuck to cling film and plastic trays. It would also make sorting plastics easier and solve problems at materials recycling facilities, where film “gums” the machinery. While councils appear to be in favor of dropping film, the difficulty lies in convincing a public which is calling for all materials to be recycled. The problem is getting the message across that it’s just as important to leave certain things out as it is to put them in. Plastic is inert in landfill, it’s material which decomposes that is causing problems”

So there you have it. I told you so. *Does a little goofy ‘I told you so’ dance*

Photo recycled from Flawka, on Flickr.

August 3, 2007 at 1:19 pm 3 comments

Tip: Minimal Packaging Please

mail

So I just discovered The Worsted Witch blog, and digging through the archives found this really great suggestion I just had to share here. If you shop online but are frustrated by all the unnecessary bubble wrap and evil Styrofoam peanuts they stuff with your package and almost certain flood of catalogs and junk mail to follow, here is what to do. When placing your online order, you can leave a note saying something like this:

 

“Please use minimal and recycled packaging. Kindly do not include any catalogs, inserts, fliers, shrink-wrap, bubble wrap, packing confetti, plastic “pillows,” or Styrofoam peanuts. (You can use crumpled up newspaper if padding is necessary.) Please do not include me in any mailing lists or exchange lists you may have. Thank you! “

Thank you to The Worsted Witch for the original wording. I only wish I had used this when I was ordering my Diva Cup and my Reusable Bags stuff. Duh. But now I know better.

No guarantees they will actually listen to you, but there is always hope. And there is also a better chance that they will eventually respond to popular demand of eco-friendlier packaging.

If you still end up with foam peanuts lying around, Treehugger for example has suggested that they can be brought back to packaging stores. If there is a mailing service in your area, you could also take them the packing boxes, as well as the peanuts and bubble wrap. And if you are crafty, you can always use the peanuts to make a bean bag. Although I imagine that would be quite a stash of peanuts you would need 😉

Photo by Miskan on Flickr.

July 23, 2007 at 10:00 am 16 comments

More recycling

recycling

A couple of days ago, Emily was worrying about whether the fact that her municipality collects all the recyclables in one bag means they are just landfilling them. As it turns out, that is quite a current and relevant question. The answer is, no, fortunately, they are indeed recycling it.

Just yesterday, Treehugger had a great post about a new recycling technology that optically separates materials like different types of plastic and paper. That means that they now can sort the recyclables automatically, where traditionally people were required.

I highly recommend reading the original article in the Economist. It is quite informative, for those of you who are still curious about recycling ‘magic’.

Anyway, the point is, with the new automated sorting, many recycling programs are switching from several recycling bins to a single bin. The main advantage of the switch is that the recycling rate tends to be much higher with a single bin. As an example, San Francisco, who switched to single bin a few years ago, now has a recycling rate of 69%. I don’t know if you realize, but 69% is huge! By comparison, the American average is 32%.

Also according to the Economist, the recycling rate here in the Netherlands stands at 60%. Not bad if you consider they don’t collect plastic from households. I do, however, think that there is plastic being collected and recycled from businesses and other large producers. I mean, there is a European Directive that makes it mandatory for them to recycle a certain amount of plastic.

So, my friends, if some time in the future your municipality asks you to put all your recyclables in one bag, worry not! It’s a good thing!

Oh and sorry, Treehugger, for ripping off the image from your post. It’s just so pretty and informative… I hope you can forgive me. I do it out of reverence to you.

June 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm 4 comments

Market Research

Wageningen Market

As you can probably guess from this wannabe clever title, today is market day in Wageningen (Vahhhhheningen, like you are trying to expel some mucus). So, in our soon to be squandered innocence, we headed off, carrying our little tote bags, a couple of plastic bags to reuse and a carton of eggs to refill at the organic dairy stand.

Full of good intentions, we successfully purchased a broccoli,a zucchini and a few mushrooms at the organic produce stand, making use of the totes and one of the plastic bags I brought along. We knew we needed to be extra watchful, as it was only on the previous day that we weren’t quick enough to prevent the organic butcher from handing us our goodies in one of those dreaded plastic bags. We assumed, by the absence of packaging and what they were selling that their stuff was reasonably local. Or at least I like to think so, and postpone my disillusion for some other time…

Unfortunately, however, we are still not at a point where we can afford to refill our stock entirely from the organic stand… So we went on, intending on getting some fruit and what not at a regular stand. It was then that we realized exactly how hopeless our situation is… Inspecting the items on display, I was still hoping to find something that could even remotely qualify as “local”. Bananas (Costa Rica) were obviously not an option, as well as the sugar snaps we were informed came from South Africa. Looking at the bleakness of this picture, it suddenly seemed that Spain was actually not such a bad perspective after all… In the end, we walked away with some spanish oranges, some spanish strawberries on the verge of spoiling and some plums, which seemed pretty good until I found out they were also from South Africa…

So there…. to quote Butters, “Oh Hamburguers!”. We have now, as I see it, 4 possible options. 1) We go bankrupt buying organic 2) We starve going local and avoiding packaging 3) we expand our standard of what’s local to simply “Europe”, so we can allow ourselves to get stuff that is trucked over from Spain and 4) we stop asking where stuff comes from and revert to our previous “ignorance is bliss” situation. None of these sounds especially appealing, but alas, we must feed.

And so it is, that I have reached the conclusion that after we can’t afford the organic stand anymore, we will limit ourselves to our continent and consider that to be as local as it gets…

Even so, I consider this day to be quite positive, considering that I managed to get home without adding more plastic bags to my collection and reuse one egg carton. But still, I did not escape plastic altogether, as the strawberries were packed in a plastic box.

 Photo Courtesy of .:Kemal:. on Flickr

April 7, 2007 at 11:55 pm 3 comments

Wasting money

First, I would like to thank everyone for visiting and for all the nice comments and the support we’ve been getting with this project. You guys have been great… I totally wasn’t expecting that this blog would do so well, less than a week since I started promoting it. No hate mail yet… I guess we’re not that cool yet, but I don’t mind. It builds my moral…

Second, I would like to apologize to my friend Ana… She was always an out-of-the-closet environmentalist and we used to make fun of her for being so naive back in university. She was always getting on everyone’s case about saving water, walking instead of driving, and other eco-nazi stuff like that. Sorry Ana!

One Green little kittenI’m still overwhelmed by the amount of plastic I’ve got in my trash and in my fridge, waiting to be trashed. I’m developing a solution for the kitty litter problem. I recently got some really eco-friendly litter. It sounds great, but I will still have to see how it measures up. It’s made from pressed forest waste, the stuff that results from forest cleaning, tree free. Its local and you can put in the compost bin. So I also got some compostable bags, and the big plan is to put the biobag in the bucket and use it for the kitchen waste and the litter.

I still have some concerns about this whole thing, though. The compost bags say they should be changed up to 2 weeks and and you can’t put stuff that is too moist in them. I am worried the poor bag is going to fall apart with the kitty wastes. As for the litter, it was about the same price as clumping litter, the problem is that you “should” change it 2 times a week, which will be quite expensive and also quite a pain. So I think next time I will try another kind, like wheat or corn, or whatever I can find here. But at least I am saying NO to plastic bags from now on.

My big trash bag is still lasting, almost two weeks now. The compostable bags I found didn’t come in the medium size, and in the end I decided that its not worth using a compostable bag to incinerate our trash in. I paid E1,89 for the 10 compostable bags, which I can make up with what I’m saving on trashbags. Those are normally around 1,5E for 20 but they are lasting 4 times as long now.

I was also quite happy to find out that my favorite tea filters that I use to brew whole leaf tea are actually oxygen bleached and compostable… I know its a little wasteful but I just like them so much… and they are made in Germany, which is fairly “local”.

April 6, 2007 at 1:27 pm 3 comments

Let there be Compost!

    

Soon after I bravely decided to drag (!)  my boyfriend into this lifestyle experiment, he was quick to introduce our first major behaviour modification. #30 on the list- how I have stubbornly refused to recycle our organic waste (even though the collection bin is right by the regular container).

My reasons for doing so were mainly because I was fearing that it would be stinky to keep our organic waste in the house for a few days, rather than dumping it in the big trash bag, which we then would take out more frequently. Then, I was also too lazy to think about finding a solution for storing our organic waste.

After we made decision last Monday, we debated for a while on how exactly we ought to go about it, and even considered *gasp* using a plastic bag. In the end we decided to use a plain old bucket, which we lined with a little newspaper in the bottom and keep it on the balcony. I also debated whether dumping the newspaper in the compost bin was acceptable, and then decided that it was, since apparently it is common to add newspaper in home composting.

We started our little bucket last Tuesday, and on Saturday I took out a healthy amount of 3,5 Kg of organic waste. Yay! Because of that, my ordinary waste bag is still going strong since Monday, no smells. Another nice thing about recycling food scraps – we don’t have to take the trash bag out as many times, which means we can save on plastic trash bags and a little money (we had to buy them). Unfortunately there are no alternatives to trash bags, for now…

And now for the bad BAD news. Now that I recycle all my paper, glass, and bio-waste, I was made aware of this shocking conclusion when I looked into the regular trash bag- it was all PLASTIC!!! Oh crap… What am I going to do about all this plastic? Especially in this @#$%^& country, where you can’t even recycle it?!!!

So it looks like our next challenge for sustainable living has become clear – trying to get rid of all this over-packaging. I’m not quite sure how to go about it yet…. I fear it will require a lot of sacrifices at the supermarket… *sigh* Maybe we can just shop more at the market and less in Alberthein… And still have my litter cleaning dilemma – I use the plastic bags from the market for that…

On the plus side – I noticed I just ran out of plastic wrap and I am boicoting buying any more of it. We still have tinfoil though…

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Update:

I have just learnt that biodegradable (“afbreekbaar”) trashbags exist at C1000, the “other” supermarket (Albertheins’ scrubby cousin). I will investigate whether I can afford biodegradable bags if I subsidize them with the money I save by not having to buy so many of them…

April 3, 2007 at 6:21 pm 3 comments


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