Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Goals

For some reason, despite being relatively conscientious about composting and recycling, I have always had plastic bags in the house. We bring our own grocery bags to the store, but still use those thin plastic bags for produce and bulk foods. Not to mention the fact that when we go shopping for non-grocery items, we often end up carrying home a plastic or paper bag along with our purchase.

Inspired by Bea's Zero Waste blog, I've decided to make two summer goals:

1) Stop using plastic bags
2) Stop using paper towels

According to Citizens Campaigns,

Every hour, approximately 200,000 plastic bags are landfilled and may take 1,000 years to break down. For the plastic bags that become litter, rain washes them into bodies of water where they threaten the lives of avian and marine species that can die from consuming or choking on the bags. Plastic pollution travels through our local waterways, eventually reaching the global oceans. On average, 46,000 pieces of plastic are swirling in each square mile of our oceans.

Like water bottles, plastic bags harm the environment and are easily replaced by reusable alternatives. Seeing as we already have enough cloth grocery bags to last us through the next several years, I've now turned to produce bag alternatives. On the Zero Waste blog, Bea suggests Flip and Tumble reusable produce bags and organic cotton muslim bags. The produce bags are light so if the cashier forgets to tare the bag it's not a huge loss. The muslim bags are perfect for bulk dry goods (pasta, rice, nuts etc...), which we buy anyhow. These come with the tare weight written on a sewn in tag, which can easily be subtracted at checkout.

Paper towels have always been a hard thing for me to let go. I don't like using old rags on my countertops, but I clean so frequently that using paper towels each time is wasteful. My goal is to start using microfiber cloths that are machine washable. Eventually I'll be able to eliminate most purchased household cleaners as well (there are effective homemade cleaners that are cheaper and less toxic).

We'll see how well I can stick to my no-plastic-bags-no-paper-towels regime, but in the long-run I expect that it will save money, space and the environment. All good things.


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