Replace plastic items or keep using?

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Michelle T Michelle T
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Replace plastic items or keep using?

After been so inspired by Bea and this Zero Waste Community I am taking the next exciting steps in my zw journey and have realized just how much plastic I have in my life!! I have been a professional organizer for many years so the focus was always to make things looks pretty and organized which leads of course to endless plastic/acrylic organizers. They're in every corner of my home: fridge, kitchen drawers, bathroom cabinets, desk. So what I'm wondering is since I want to make my home as zero waste as possible and have it be a model as to what that looks like for others would it be best replace the plastic organizers and let someone else have them who would have probably purchased them new otherwise. Or should I keep using them because they are already there and reuse in the most effective waste reduction step?

I would love the communities thoughts on this! Thank you!
Alexa Alexa
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

As long as it's not being used to microwave food or for long term cold food storage, I'd keep and use add long as needed. As they wear or,  recycle and only replace with non-plastic alternatives if you really need that specific type of container.
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Michelle T
Instead of "replacing", wonder if somehow you could turn them into a format for simplifying. i.e., keeping in mind what Bea recently tweeted regarding "what you don't have doesn't need to be organized", start reducing what's in your containers, one by one, then donate the empty containers as you no longer need them.
Hope this makes sense.
Michelle T Michelle T
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

Thank you so much for your feedback! I completely agree that simplifying and removing the organizers that you no longer need is the best route which I'm super close to being done with. (YAY!) The ones that remain mainly are for separating items in the kitchen such as forks and knives or for glass mason jars in the fridge so I can pull out a bin and grab what I need rather than have to remove everything and dig to the back. :) That sort of thing. But I will take your advice and keep on using them until they are toast and then use metals ones or something of the like.
Sharon Sharon
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In reply to this post by Michelle T
I've been struggling with this too. I've read that some zero-wasters recommend getting rid of all plastic, but it seems like such a waste if the item is still useful. Otherwise it just becomes someone else's problem, ie. more trash in the landfill. I've also decided to keep using what I have (as long as it's safe) and replace with more durable goods from now on. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way!
SublimeT SublimeT
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

You can always donate to Goodwill and someone can use those plastic items for garage organization or for kids items. I would retire all plastic from any good service immediately and avoid placing in your dishwasher with all your other dishes because as plastic is heated, it releases carcinogenic dioxins. I believe those coat your plates as do the BPAs and other plastic chemicals that are even in BPA free plastics. Please read slow death by rubber duck if you think it is less urgent than I am making it out to be. I think you will be shocked by how bad the plastic is and the chemicals additionally found in every receipt you touch and inside canned foods lining.

 I don't think there is any reason to keep plastic since people at Goodwill will buy it and use it. 

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On Jan 30, 2015, at 7:12 AM, Sharon [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

I've been struggling with this too. I've read that some zero-wasters recommend getting rid of all plastic, but it seems like such a waste if the the item is still useful. Otherwise it just becomes someone else's problem, ie. more trash in the landfill. I've also decided to keep using what I have (as long as it's safe) and replace with more durable goods from now on. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way!


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Sharon Sharon
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

Thanks, Tabithahkostka! I really appreciate your response. I have heard of that book before and just put it on hold at my local library.

I'm not disagreeing about plastic being toxic, but being a ZW newbie I can only make so many changes at a time. I don't have a dishwasher and don't heat anything in plastic, but I do use my plastic containers for cold lunches and short-term food storage, which I *thought* was safe enough. The plastic-free options are not cheap and I can't replace them all at once. But after reading your post I think getting plastic-free lunch/food storage is the priority. I would probably just buy a piece at a time, depending on the cost.

I had also debated between recycling the containers or donating them. If I recycle them then no one else could be "poisoned" by them (I assumed they would be used for food storage). But if they're donated then they could also be used for other purposes, as you mentioned. Maybe I'm overthinking it!
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Sharon
This is such a great question and discussion! I think another important lesson from this is to not automatically replace what is either used up, worn out but to "do without" for as long as possible, improvising as necessary. I initially made the mistake of replacing plastic food storage with glass pieces (GlassLock, etc). Now I am realizing the down side of that investment, i.e., still have plastic lids/gaskets, and as I inevitably break a piece, I'm finding I cannot recycle the glass because those with borosilicate can't be recycled -at least in my area. Putting shards of glass in the trash is disturbing. I am discovering, now, that I can easily do without. We plan a bit better, use recyclable glass jars from my few packaged purchases, and use "bonnets", plates, lids, etc. to cover leftovers. We have limited freezer storage, and while I am still using glass, my [current] plan is NOT to replace should I break, but rather, if necessary, go with stainless steel -more durable/recyclable.
As for lunch storage, that's a real dilemma since there are obvious problems with glass. Again, maybe slowly replace with ss or fabric wraps.

Back to the kitchen, elsewhere,and sorting nonfood items: again, the less you have the less there is to worry about. Of course, I say this as I stare at crocks on the counter still filled with scrappers, spoons, and stirrers :/

Work in progress.
Catherine Sultana Catherine Sultana
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In reply to this post by Michelle T
Hi Michelle, As a professional organizer do you use your home as a model for your clients? If so, then I would reduce/eliminate as much as possible. Part of the attraction in what Bea Johnson has accomplished in her home (for me, and I suspect many others) is the aesthetic, how uniform and efficient the solutions are. Yes, high quality usually equals high cost, so maybe some of your clients are going to get wire bins from IKEA instead of the ones Bea shows in her store...I have been chiseling away at changing habits, removing nonfunctional things, reevaluating, finding better solutions, addressing the uniqueness of our family, so seeing first hand a finished home would be very reassuring and inspirational.
Edward Charette Edward Charette
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

"Replace or keep using" sounds brilliant idea. But caution while your reuse, for example, reusing, heating or freezing plastic water bottles release cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins. DEHA,  a chemical present in plastics cause cancer.
Seven standard recycling and reuse information for each plastic type:
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)
PP (Polypropylene)
PS (Polystyrene)
There is a staggering growth in plastic wastes around the world. Many bulk trash removal services in Toronto say that there are tons of plastic debris with varying size from large to small. World's plastic waste can easily bury Manhattan 2 miles deep.
Catherine S Catherine S
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

Edward, does the caution on water bottle plastic apply to zip lock plastic bags too? I know quite a few who reuse (washing and air drying in between) baggies for freezing liquids, like soups, and solids like meats, breads, casseroles, etc. I  would assume so, but if uou have run across a source that specifically states this it would help me in discouraging this practice. I know someone who reuses the zipper bags frozen fruits and vegetables are sold in, is this a bad practice, too?TIA
Aaron Aaron
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Re: Replace plastic items or keep using?

In reply to this post by Michelle T
There are some really nice bamboo drawer dividers etc. that I have picked up second hand.  I see them fairly often.  So when you need them it should be pretty easy to get some.