Choices

Previous Topic Next Topic
 
classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
14 messages Options
Jay Jay
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Choices

This post was updated on .
AS with most, am having internal debates about the choices I make when shopping.
Current question, a spin off from contemplating making my own vinegar. Since plain white vinegar (not wine) is used so much around the house, I've been trying to figure out alternatives to the plastic gallon jugs. Do I buy smaller, glass bottles and eat the cost savings; reuse, then recycle the jugs?  I nixed making my own after researching acetic acid. Eck.
What would you do? Same ultimate question as having to buy bulk in plastic bags, I guess. Thoughts?
Sandra Sandra
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

Great thread topic. I frequently face this same dilemma and wonder what the better alternative would be. Since my access to bulk goods is more limited than Bea's, it's not always possible to follow her exact example.

While I could drive myself to confusion in an attempt to follow the sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of every item I purchase (and believe me, I know how important it is to know where your purchases come from), when it comes down to it, I stick to the mantra that's printed under the title of this blog: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (and Rot).

For the vinegar, I guess it comes down to how much you can get away with using. I've reduced the amount of vinegar I use for cleaning purposes by diluting it in the all-purpose cleaner, and I use a spray bottle to limit the amount I need to apply to floors and counter surfaces. Glass vs. plastic jug: that's a continuing battle for me, too. I've been buying the glass bottles and saving the containers to store other items. It's definitely more expensive per ounce, but I gain a storage container. And by using less, I've been able to stretch out one 32 oz. bottle over six months. I don't think I'd be able to keep up making my own vinegar, either. The time and effort needed would make me want to give up the whole zero waste thing.

I've been catching up on reading some of the books Bea suggests in her 'store' and "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard (along with the YouTube video) has been helpful for showing me the bigger picture of what to consider when making my everyday purchases.

I'm also curious to learn how others have tackled this dilemma. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Julie Julie
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

I'm glad you brought this up, Jay. I'm frustrated by choices as well. It's so irritating that our society is set up to make ZW difficult. Shouldn't it be easy and less expensive?!?!? I can see things changing though. It seems like slowly the manufacturers are bringing more green products to the market. I think we need to just keep pushing them. Take milk, for example. Bea buys glass bottled milk at Whole Foods and she puts the plastic lid back on the bottle along with the seal and returns them with all the plastic. For her it is ZW. I was doing that for awhile and it worked fine, but then I decided to switch to my local farm's milk delivery of glass bottles. I like to support my local farms (instead of Whole Foods), plus I love love love the delivery option. They use the same bottles and allow for returns of the used bottles, but they won't take back the lids. And with 3 small children we go through A LOT of milk, so that's a lot of plastic lids. Do we stop drinking milk? Of course not! Do I go back to Whole Foods who is probably going to just trash the lids anyway? No, I just can't, it's too far away and the delivery is so convenient. So here's my plan to push them to bring a better product. I wrote a letter to my farm asking for the name of the manufacturer of the bottles and lids. Once they get back to me I plan on sending letters to the bottle manufacturer to come up with a better design. The way I figure it, I'm doing the best that I can do and the smallish caps are better than the gigantic gallon plastic containers that we were using before. But it's a choice. Choices, choices, choices...
Jay Jay
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Jay
Slightly different issue, prompted by several discussions and posts, most recently Cameron's in "Jars and Masons": i have been collecting glass jars, bottles from store bought items, but they're of all shapes and sizes. I also have several hermetic jars AND mason jars of different sizes and brands, my Lorina and Grolsch bottles and a Bormioli Rocco "milk" bottle --
I use many of them, and can imagine a use for the rest. I also think, though, that there is an excellent argument for uniformity, for rational as well as aesthetic reasons.
So the question is, how do you all handle this? Have you settled on one brand and uniformity of size, shape, or just go with whatever you have, what is your opinion as well as reality??
Wrennerd Wrennerd
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

Jay, while I am tempted to spring for a whole new set of the Weck jars you pointed out, it would probably be wasteful when I get so many glass jars naturally (through purchasing their contents). I've elected to purchase all of my canned goods only from my local cannery:
http://www.bobmccutcheon.com/newmccutcheons/indexmain.htm

They use a standard size canning jar, so I've decided to collect and save only those matching jars -- odd shapes I acquire through other sources will be recycled. Hopefully, that way most of what accumulates will match.
OneHotMomma OneHotMomma
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Jay
I like the electic look of several different sizes and varieties of jars but I am in an area where bulk purchasing isn't very difficult.  I have elected to buy several sizes of mason jars and look through thrift shops to see what they have available.  My problem is finding glass containers large enough for storage of things like flour and meal.
Julie Julie
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Wrennerd
Wrennerd, you must be in my neck of the woods! :D I get my jams from McCutcheon's as well. Delish! Do you use South Mountain Creamery? Maybe we can gang up on them and convince them to switch to wax paper for their butter instead of plastic tub. ;)...
KarinSDCA KarinSDCA
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

As I have stated elsewhere (so many of our discussions are ultimately about the same thing, eh?), I came to this zerowaste idea recently and I started from a health perspective. For me, the plastic gallon jug was the least objectionable because I reuse the containers multiple times and I go through that size in a reasonable amount of time. It is less waste in the sense of fewer bottles, but the plastic waste angle is something new for me to ponder. I had bought into the idea that plastic was being recycled into usable products. I feel rather betrayed and taken aback to discover that is not entirely true and I have yet to absorb it all and act on the new information.

I firmly agree that the order is REDUCE, then reuse, and lastly recycle. I follow that regularly out of habit. (In the vinegar example, I had reduced all my cleaning products down to vinegar, baking soda, and water --not all together-- for 90% of the cleaning from over a dozen products 15 or more years ago due to chemical sensitivities and allergies/asthma.) The refuse and rot segments are new to me, but we compost (rot) and have for 6+ years. I also make conscious purchasing decisions based on my values (including packaging), which is a form of refusing. My perspective has just been from a different angle up to now.

I love Annie's "The Story of..." series and share them sporadically on facebook to gently enlighten some of the family and friends. I do wish she visually showed circles more than the straight line production. She does in some parts, but her still art is usually the straight-line.

For me, the key to all this is the FULL product lifecycle. It doesn't really begin with us consumers at the store or ordering online and end in our trash cans or recycling bins, does it? That is simply the section of the product lifecycle we consumers have control of. There is a lot more to it on either end of that straight line and ultimately, it isn't a straight line at all. What we are throwing away is ending up in our waterways and food chain, which we end up drinking and eating.

The choices are frustrating when I think about the full product lifecycle. We consumers are supposed to be driving demand and the manufacturers are supposed to be making what we want in this so-called free market system. Hmph is all I have to say about THAT. LOL
Jay Jay
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

Well said, Karin. Last night, at dinner we were talking about how important it is to be critical thinkers, which in turn should drive our decisions. What brought this up was a recent news report on how bioplastics claim to be compostable, but that at municipal composting plants they have to pull them out and throw away: muni systems use a 90 day cycle, while these products claim a 180 day cycle. I had a sick feeling in my stomach when they commented on how difficult it was to see these in the material coming in "not like those bright green bags". OMG. We use Biobags for our refuse. Do they just pull the bags out and throw away?


Problem is, we seldom get totally unbiased information. Learning all this takes a LOT of time. I, for one, am really grateful for all the information, experience, and opinions folks share here. Helps with decision making, with thinking through the whole, as you say, cycle.
Sandra Sandra
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by KarinSDCA
Well said, Karin!
Julie Julie
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Jay
Great discussion, Karin and Jay! I am also new to the whole green movement and especially to the idea that recycling is not the solution. Actually I'm having some trouble with that one still. When I tell people about my ZW efforts they just shrug and say that they recycle and why isn't that good enough. I understand that you have to factor in the energy and effort to make the packaging and also the energy and effort to recycle it. But how do I explain to my friends that recycling is really not the answer?
KarinSDCA KarinSDCA
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

I don't know, yet, Julie. I haven't attempted to discuss it in that way with anyone I know IRL. Conversations with my DH have been interesting, though. We've discussed quite a few topics along these lines in our DD's presence (age 10). She understands a lot of it already, which amazes me. One baby step at a time, I guess.

I have been researching a lot about plastic (also reading "My Plastic-free Life" blog) and less waste in general online. When I find something compelling to me, I have linked it on my facebook page. It has been rather educational to see the various responses (and lack thereof...LOL). People I never even realized were "green" or interested have expressed gratitude for some links. Makes me glad I didn't selectively email the links. No one has yet commented on the 5 gyres (swirling, floating "islands" of trash in the oceans) nor the photo of the dead bird with all those pieces of plastic in his body (by Chris Jordan). From this site, I went on a clicking trail regarding reducing junk mail. I had done this five years ago and experienced the joys of having less incoming paper. The volume had just started increasing in the last month or so much to my dismay, so I went through the steps all over again and posted a link and a concise (unlike my posts here lately LOL) few sentences regarding that topic. Whoa! People came out of the woodwork on that one...all very appreciative and seemingly understanding the points of less incoming junk equals less time spent managing it and, therefore, more time to enjoy life.

I'm not usually political on my facebook page and only with certain people IRL, but I did link some of the current day issues on these topics recently. Fascinating response, especially the plastic bag ban in Long Beach (generated a hundred replies in a couple hours). I was careful in my wording on some responses, using "I wonder..." type phrases. Worked like a charm and got people thinking instead of reacting.

No one has come out and criticized me or my thoughts on these topics. I am grateful. Then again, I haven't really put myself out there like Bea does. She has a special commitment to her cause and I appreciate her.

I make a lot of choices that go against current-day American society. My method of handling it thus far has been quiet confidence. This is the way it is for me/us. Period. If asked questions in a genuinely curious manner, then I absolutely answer and expand on any topics of interest. If asked surface-level questions, I generally use humor or, "It's an experiment"...keeping it light. Basically matching the level of interest on whatever level the other person is coming from. The people I have the hardest time handling are those who use subtle ridicule. I am a straight-forward, tell-it-like-it-is person (with kindness most of the time). Ridicule can be so subtle I don't even realize it until the other person goes too far.

I was in a class tonight with our Girl Scout troop and I actually learned some great strategies now that I think about it. The class was self-defense aimed at 3rd-5th grade girls and the main topic was bullying and mean girls and boys. (There was also physical self-defense, but that was much lighter at this age.) Eye contact and posture were two things all the girls (and moms, for that matter) need more practice with. In reflection, I can see why some people use subtle ridicule with me. I sound confident and know my stuff, usually, but I don't always stand my ground nor do I look people in the eye during any type of conflict. Fascinating!

By contrast, I am more persuasive than I give myself credit for. Several examples have come to light recently, so I will give that more thought.

In any case, maybe leading by example is the best course of action for awhile?
Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Jay
Jay, I think don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  I had a similar dilemma--I take a lot of vitamins and nutritional supplements.  I thought I was doing the right thing by switching to a brand that came in glass pill bottles, but when my order arrived each bottle was carefully wrapped in plastic bubble wrap.  The plastic pill bottles ship without the bubble wrap.  So I'm going back to my old brand--I can at least recycle the bottles, I can't recycle the bubble wrap.
Sandra Sandra
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Choices

In reply to this post by Julie
A key point for me was learning that most plastics were actually downcycled, not recycled, so recycling a bottle did not produce a new bottle but rather a different material (like carpeting, plastic benches). That meant new plastic still had to be created to produce another bottle. And, at the end of the day, the recycled carpeting would also make its way to the landfill. This was all news to me. I had thought that recycling my soda bottle would somehow prevent a pile of plastic from entering the landfill.

Also, the more I read about the recycling process, the more I found out that a lot of our recycling is shipped and done overseas. A huge energy expenditure, not to mention the toxins released into the air during the processing, and the fact that a large amount of the material entering the recycling stream is not actually usable (such as caps, lids, and most # 7 plastic) and is directly dumped in the landfill anyway (and in a landfill that is located on foreign soil).

Karin's comments on what she learned in the Girl Scout troop meeting are really interesting, and bring the conversation to another level. How we communicate ideas definitely affects the response others have to our comments. Wow, that's something I'm going to give more thought to. Lots to think about. Thanks.