Category Archives: soft plastics

Day 18: Quest for cheese

The only reason I was hesitant to commit to cutting out soft plastics was cheese. I love cheese: the two of us buy extra large, family size packages of aged white cheddar. Often when we think “there’s no food on the house”, it turns out the only thing we’re missing is cheese. Unfortunately, this culinary wonder (am I going too far?) invariably comes wrapped in cling film of plastic of some sort. And so, this week we underwent (cue deep, reverberating voice) “the quest for cheese”.

Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I was pretty sure we could get someone to put a block straight into my container at a small deli, but we were aiming for the major grocery stores since that’s where the majority of Canadians shop.

The first attempt garnered us blank stares and head shakes, but at the second store, after a bit of haggling and convincing (“I’ll take whatever kind of cheese you have. Yes, whatever you’ll give me. Yes, in this container. No, all by itself.”), we managed to purchase one of the most expensive blocks of cheddar cheese I have ever had. Contrary to the experience of Mrs. Green from My Zero Waste, our block of cheese cost twice as much as we would usually pay for it! Nevertheless, it was lovely cheese, and it’s good to know that even a major chain grocery store is willing to forgo packaging if you just ask.

It’s funny how, before we started this project, I wouldn’t have given a second thought to the plastic wrapping around my fromage. It seemed like an intrinsic part of the product. I had never considered that is was an option to just ask for it without the packaging.

And then there are advocates of an alternative approach. Some people suggest that if the item you want comes in a package, simply leave the packaging at the checkout of the store. The theory here is that if enough people force retailers to be responsible for their waste, they will pressure the manufacturers to use less packaging. In some places, like Britain, governments are stepping in and actual have laws against excessive packaging.

A local example of this is London Drugs (large Canadian drug store chain) who has managed to reduce it’s waste by 40% and recently announced it will take back “all packaging associated with goods sold at and transported to stores” for recycling.

Can you believe I just used the word package/packaging 6 times in 8 sentences?

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Filed under reusable containers, soft plastics

Day 14: Falling Off the Wagon and Discussions of Soft Plastics

We had a near miss here in week two of the Clean Bin Project. Rhyannon “accidentally” bought a pair of panniers for her bicycle under the thinly-veiled excuse that it was a “transportation related” purchase (paying for transportation is ok under our rules). She did add that she felt a bit guilty about her purchase, and, being the protective roommates that we are, we berated her incessantly until she returned them. Luckily, I have far too much sporting equipment, and she is able to use one of my bike bags for the year. So she’s officially back on the wagon.

On the weekend we visited Happy Stan’s Recycling and were pleased to find that they pretty much take all types of paper, metal, electronics, and plastics (except Styrofoam) for recycling. They even take bottle caps and un-numbered plastics like the dental floss container I thought had to go in my garbage bin.

In the two months before the project officially started, we had been saving all our soft plastic wrappers just to see how much we had, and it turned out that we had accumulated two generously stuffed, pillow-sized bags of it! We’re happy that we can recycle it instead of tossing it in our bins, but we were awestruck by the actual volume of plastic and the thought that all of that had been going into the garbage for the past however many years.

The final consensus was that, although we can technically recycle soft plastics, the facility is quite far from our house and we think we can do better than producing one huge bag every month. So for now we’re going to try to reduce our soft plastics, and track how we’re doing a month at a time. Hopefully we can phase soft plastics out altogether. One thing I’m definitely not going to miss is washing out those bulk bags and cheese wrappers and trying to prop them open to properly dry.

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Filed under recycling, slip ups, soft plastics