Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weeks Six and Seven: Plastic Tally and Comments

No photo this time--I just didn't feel like hauling out the camera.  Just a tally and a commentary:

The last two weeks' tally for the two of us amounts to 3 lb., 1 oz. of plastic waste.

The good news is that very little of that is single use plastic.  The weight is probably inflated, too, since we tossed out several empty bags of dog food.  We buy our dog food in bulk, and the bags are mostly paper, but with a thin plastic liner.

I know some people do feel their dogs home-made food.  Honestly, with the special dietary needs our aging and allergic dogs have, I don't think that's a road I want to travel.

Another category of plastic waste this week is packaging from tools and hardware for our home renovation.  It's amazing how many things are simply not available without a little plastic coffin around them!  And other things, quite useful and ordinary things, like the pulleys needed to repair sash weight windows seem to be unavailable except in salvage stores.

This is disconcerting.  The more I focus on the environment, the more clear I become that old-fashioned virtues like thrift, including repairing the old and preserving the new, are a huge part of what we need to cultivate in the interests of our planet.

Other heavy things disposed of over the past two weeks include a broken timer for lights. The casing was plastic--again, lots of heavy metal parts probably inflated our weight this week--but, also, the timer itself was at least twenty years old.  When an appliance containing plastic is old enough to vote, I don't feel quite as bad if it is beyond repair.

So, the good news: a lot of that weight was unavoidable.  The bad news?  On vacation, I kept forgetting to tell waitresses not to bring a straw with my beverage.  (Who drinks iced coffee through a straw, anyway?)  We must have collected half a dozen little plastic straws--each and every one of them a monument to forgetfulness.

I'm less upset with that than I might be, though.  Being on vacation means being away from my usual habits--that there is a dramatic contrast between my actions when I'm in a situation where I can cultivate environmentally-friendly habits, and one where I cannot, seems to say more good things about our day-to-day changes than negative ones about our travel habits.  It's not like we travel every week, after all, and perhaps we'll get better at that, too, with practice.

Meanwhile, we had a great week at home around plastic waste.  Though our (old enough to vote) vacuum cleaner has died and cannot be repaired, we've decided to replace it with a rebuilt Electrolux (almost entirely metal in its working parts, and used to boot!).

And you should have seen the grin on Peter's face when he came home from grocery shopping this week.  The only plastic item?  A "rubber" band around a bunch of organic broccoli.


  1. FYI While 3/4 of all "rubber" products are made of synthetic rubber (a petroleum by product), Rubber Bands are typically still made of natural rubber (from a rubber tree) due to it's highly elastic nature.

  2. Thanks, Beth! Peter thinks this particular synthetic rubber, but it's good to know that at least the rubber bands may be something we can feel easy about using.


  3. Hello. I love your comment about some of your plastic-enabled appliances being old enough to vote, so okay to recycle those.

    I have this hand held Dust Devil vacuum cleaner. I got it probably about 1986 so it is old enough to vote. It works fine. I'm not getting rid of it.

    But a couple years ago the Dust Devil Powers That Be discontinued the bags for the dust/debris collection on this model. This truly upset me: this machine has been far more faithful and trustworthy than my upright carpet cleaners over the years; I was NOT about to consign its loyalty to the dustbins of history or unwarranted obscelecnce. (As it were.)

    Out of sheer perversity, I actually hand-pulled crap and debris out of a last bag, so I could use the Dust Devil again. However since then I've scored on the Internet about 25 new bags of the type it can use, so between hand pulling and using the archaic things found on the Internet, I hope this hand vacuum cleaner lasts me until 2020.

    I refuse to toss into the garbage a perfectly-working machine, just because the Dust Devil company no longer makes bags for it.

  4. I've added you to the blogroll, Diann. There is this thing, about living green being living joyfully, that I'm just discovering.

    I'm not saying that there aren't going to be sacrifices we're all going to need to make over the next few decades. But at least some of them will come with rewards.

    And good for you for keeping your Dust Devil in service! (What do you think of sewing a permanent bag for it, when you get low on the ones you just found?)