Friday, April 25, 2008

Thinking about plastics

I've been trying to cut down on the plastics in my my life for several years. I've especially been trying to cut down on the plastics in my kitchen, because who wants all of those plastic residues leaching into your food?

At times it seems a nearly insurmountable step...everything comes in plastic or is made of plastic, not just food items...but baby steps have taken me a long way. I've been thinking about this even more lately as I've been thinking about all of the trash I still manage to produce.

Until a year or so ago, I felt virtuous over the massive amounts of recycling I do. I recycle more than anyone I know, and am even a little OCD about it. Why shouldn't I have felt virtuous, right? I suppose the shift came as I began to realize that every item I take to the recycling center represents something else I'm probably going to end up purchasing to replace whatever consumer good it contained...and then taking the next empty to the recycling center again.

Yes recycling is an important step. And not one I'm going to give up anytime soon (or ever) but what I've come to realize is that I'm still not doing much to contribute to the end of the cycle. It's not as if most of the products I recylce are recycled back into similar goods for consumption in a similar way their next time through the system. Plastics, for example-- a great deal of that goes to what? Plastic lumber for park benches and polar fleece? I mean, that's fantastic, but...

What about the milk jugs, orange juice containers, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes...Nearly all of those things require fresh manufacture each time around. Given that, I was excited to just find this site. At Preserve they don't turn plastics into items similar to their origins (they aren't making new yogurt containers out of old ones, which is too bad) but they are making home use goods, which seems a positive step from these plastics being made just into plastic lumber and polar fleece.

I'm feeling a bit torn still though. Everything is made from recycled #5 plastic (think yogurt containers) which is notorious for being amongst the harder of the most ubiquitous food plastics to be recycled. So, this is fantastic...and I am crazy excited about it right?

Well, yeah. Except for one thing. Most of their products are kitchen products designed to come in contact with food. It means they pose all the same risks for chemical leaching when heated as any other kitchen plastic. So, I'm torn. But I think I'm going to stick to my current transition plan which will eventually have my kitchen full of nothing but glass, metal and pottery. (As an aside-- Especially pottery made by independent artisans...which I've always loved and collected, generally trying to find at least one piece every time I take a trip, or visit a farmers market or a fair...and have always said that someday my kitchen will be full of nothing but amazing bits of pottery.)

Anyway. That was a digression. Imagine that. So, as exciting as it is to think that my kitchen could be stocked full of things that didn't require any new resources to make, I think I'm going to pass on most of their products. I just don't want my kitchen stocked full of plastics. BUT...they do have something I do want. Two somethings actually.

Toothbrushes and razors! Not only are made of recycled materials, but they take them back! Simply stick the toothbrush in its case, smack on a postage page label and send it back to the manufacturer to be recycled down the chain into the plastic lumber I mentioned above.

1 comment:

Green Bean said...

I'm with you. I'm definitely working to get plastic out of my kitchen. It is a gradual transition - it's so hard because it is EVERYWHERE. Bit by bit, though, I think we can get rid of alot of it. For the rest, I guess we can turn to Preserve and hopefully other companies like them will spring up.