Four Choices for Plastic-Free July

Oops. On my bleary 1st day home after a trip earlier this month, I stopped at the store and bought some yogurt – in a big plastic container. I was halfway home before I realized what I’d done. I joined up to participate in Plastic-Free July, so I shouldn’t have acquired that yogurt.

Then I thought – I’ve still got my Yogomatic (click here for the post about finding it) – I can use some of my yogurt as starter to make more. Oh good grief – the Yogomatic is plastic. Despite that, I finally tried it today. Now I have a quart of new yogurt.

Plastic-Free July is meant to help increase our awareness of unnecessary packaging, all that we buy and throw away and/or attempt to recycle. It’s helped me realized that if I’m mindful, there really are choices. Here are 4 relatively easy ones:

Bar soap: Looking around the house, I saw that every sink has a (plastic) container of liquid soap beside it.  I even had liquid shower soap.

soaps packaged in plastic

Here, everything but Lava is in a layer of plastic.

At the store, I checked out the soap aisle – but most of the bar soap, which used to be wrapped in paper, now has an extra outside layer of (guess what?) plastic.

Last month, looking for soap without the some of the controversial chemical ingredients, I’d come home with a bottle of Dr Bronner’s.  With a little searching I’ve found more choices: an equivalent bar in paper packaging, plus an unpackaged bar of Aloe Baby from Sevananda, a local health food store.

good better best packaging for soap: Dr Bronner's liquid, Dr Bronner's bar, Aloe Baby bar

Here are my good/better/best soapy finds.

Laundry soap: There’s a choice in laundry soap packaging too. Here’s my old plastic container and my new box:

laundry soap choices- paper or plastic?

Laundry soap: paper or plastic?

publix recycles prescription vials

Publix Pharmacy recycles pill containers.

Pill containers:  Another place where all I see is plastic. My recycling center takes them, but for those who don’t, I saw this good news at Publix Pharmacy.

Still, not using plastic at all would be better than recycling it, even if all of us recycled (which we don’t).

The pharmacy told me they can’t dispense medication any way but in plastic containers, so I’m going to cut back on packaging by using the mail order pharmacy to get 3 months worth at a time.

market mushrooms

No clam-shell packaging, and almost too pretty to eat.

Produce: Shop at your local farmer’s market. Our weekend market had these amazing plastic-free mushrooms.

It’s not realistic to think we can be plastic-free everywhere, but small choices aren’t difficult, and they can add up to make a big difference. Can you help?

Can I Have Too Many Recyclables?

I gather up my trash and recyclables, so proud of my big bag of recyclables and little bag of trash that I decide to photograph them. Then it occurs to me that maybe this is not such a good thing after all. Can I have too many recyclables? I look through the bag and I see how much is junk mail and newspaper and realize the answer is yes.

Small trash bag on the left, large recycle bag on the right

Trash on the left, recyclables on the right.

For the last two years I’ve been fretting about the newspaper. Every time its up for renewal I keep my paper-subscription and think “next time” I’ll go digital. I love walking down the driveway in the morning, picking up the paper, reading it while drinking my coffee, and saving articles to share or reference later. Uh-oh, my newspaper subscription is due for renewal now. Can I make myself go through with it this time?

What’s stopping me? – Old habits and a 13-inch laptop screen. But, paper saved in the first place is better than paper recycled. It’s past time to try that digital subscription.

Then I realize there’s another, deeper reason that I’m still taking the newspaper. It’s a link to a happy time in my life B.C. – Before Cancer – when Bob’s cancer was years in the future; we had apartments and lived in Kansas City. We always got the Kansas City Star on  Sunday. It amused us when it started coming out the evening before, and when we were out on Saturday night we always stopped to buy one on the way home. So I have to acknowledge that the newspaper stands in as link to a simpler time, not just pre-cancer, but pre-hoarding.

I have good newspaper-memories from this house too. Bob used to bring me a New York Times and a weekend Wall Street Journal as a treat on Friday afternoons. We worked the crossword puzzles together, passing them back and forth across the table.

Now, as for the recyclables – I’ll go to work on cutting down on junk mail, but maybe I’m not quite ready to give up the newspaper after all.

What physical things are you hanging onto for reasons of the heart?