Rethinking garbage

Ron’s an inveterate Craig’s List addict, and while he was surfing, I noticed this post. It was right after Halloween, so we had a ton of candy bags on hand, so I emailed Lou & got this reply:

The whole point to all this is to get America thinking about what we throw away.  when you head for the trash can, think:  can i reuse this? can i recycle this? did i need it in the first place? can Lou use it?

we all need to start (or continue) RIGHT NOW, NOT TOMORROW about what we’re putting in the trash and what we’re consuming.

did you know that the trash in your garbage can will most likely be shipped to china or india to be incinerated simply because they have cheaper and more lax environmental laws?  there are many other scary facts like that one…

well, here’s what i can re-use in general (the short list :) )

chip bags – I REALLY NEED CHIP BAGS PLEASE!
tortilla chips bags
granola bar wrappers
any food plastic really…
cheese wrappers
shredded cheese packaging
produce bags
shopping bags from stores like department, other merchants, not plastic ones from stop n shop, i have a ton!
other color bags from groceries besides white
bag that cereal comes in (really like those!)
salad mix bags
tortillas bags
smartfood popcorn bags
pretzel bags
wrappers from printer paper, pens, stationary

basically any type of plastic you can fold in half… that’s the test.  if you can’t fold it, i can’t use it like plastic tupperware lids, pb containers, salad dressing bottles etc.  if it is a bag, we’re good to go.

i especially love bags from out of town like if you’ve traveled and you bought a gift, trinket and the store gave you a bag etc…

newspaper plastic wrappers are great too…

if i can’t use it, i’ll just recycle it anyway so no worries.
please be respectful in not sending me nasty, crumby, fly ridden trash… (you’d be suprised)

The deal:  i only need a few pieces to make a wallet for you, if you want it made out of certain pieces, let me know in your mailing… please include $1 for shipping,i know i posted it in the free zone but c’mon, small price to pay for helping the environment and a wallet.  you only need to mail a few pieces for the wallet technically but that’s not the point here…

I emailed back about those mylar bags a lot of chips come in (they’re good, too), and have since been rinsing and saving a lot of what would have otherwise gone into the garbage.

We don’t produce a lot of trash for an American household. Unless we’re hosting an event or undertaking some big project, we seldom produce more than one bin a month. We recycle almost everything, even though it’s a big messy pain in the ass out her in the sticks, where we don’t have curbs, much less curbside recycling.  I always refuse or recycle plastic shopping bags, but food bags and wrappers were something I didn’t quite know how to treat. They’re not typically labeled for recycling, and they’re made out of who-knows-what. I hate the idea of contaminating the recycling queue (I’m a goody-goody about following restrictions), so unless I found a particularly cute one I wanted to sew into something, it would hit the garbage.

Now I’m saving everything: single-serving bags (which I fundamentally hate but sometimes cave and buy with Amazon sales or as snacks when we host events), cheese wrappers, bean bags, those thin plastic bags inside boxes of couscous or cereal. Yay!

A while back I read the etsy lab about fusing plastic, and initially thought I’d fuse and sew plastic for mailers when my really ungreen stock of plastic and tyvek runs out. But my attemps at fusing plastic have been garbage-bound failures and I’m not patient enough to keep trying. Besides, I realized I have more fabric in my stash than I can possibly use in my lifetime, so when the tyvek’s gone, I’m switching to cloth.

And all my once-garbage bound wrappers and bags are getting cleaned and shipped off to Lou.

And the plan is working. Even without the wallet carrot, it really is making me rethink packaging. It’s nice to slim down my garbage production, and I can consider recycling when I make buying choices. For instance: when I buy chips in the future, I’ll pick those packed in plastic instead of the paper-look bags (which look more appealing, but are always lined in plastic anyway). And watching those single-serving bags pile up (instead of letting them disappear into the trash can, where I can hide my shame) has made me regret loosening my morals about buying them (although it’s awesome committed single-serving addicts can keep them out of the trash this way). I think I’m ready to officially re-swear them off. Hooray, Lou!

Lou’s Upcycles on Etsy (there is some seriously cute stuff here)

Lou’s blog.

  • elizabeth says:

    That is really amazing. I still have shopping bags from our honeymoon in Paris three years ago that I keep because hey! they’re from Paris! and I would LOVE to see them used in something. Thanks for this post!

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