What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

07 May 2011

Recycling Shows a Lack of Imagination

Completely unrelated: Michelle has given me a blog award! Actually I got to choose between the Stylish or Versatile Blogger, but since I already have both, I'll just skip straight to: Thank you, Michelle!

We all know the cute little saying, "Recycle, Reuse, Reduce", yes? Well, if you haven't been hanging around with the environmentally mad people lately, what I'm about to say may come as somewhat of a surprise: They're in the wrong order.

Yeah, when they (this would be the mysterious "they") came up with the saying in the 90s, they didn't bother telling us that recycling should be a last resort, not the first step. Don't get me wrong, recycling is important (without it, I wouldn't know what to do with all my milk jugs), but it's better to exhaust all other possibilities first.

So, living with this idea in mind has caused me some issues. Bread bags, for instance. We get at least one bread bag a week. They aren't recyclable. They are flimsy. I hate to throw them away, but what should I do with them?

Solution #1: This is a favourite of my Grandma. My grandmother doesn't put anything in her rubbish bin that might smell or attract pests (unfortunately, she also doesn't compost). Instead, she saves her bread bags, and puts the banana peels or whatever else into them, and stores the bag neatly in the freezer until trash day, when the whole thing goes into the rubbish. At least the bags get one reuse.
Solution #2: I've started using them for getting my grains from the bulk bins at the store. My mesh bags are no good for grains (since they're mesh), and despite all my best intentions, I haven't gotten round to making some canvas bags yet. In the meantime, I've appropriated bread bags for getting oats or whatever. Turns out the clerks at the store are totally okay with this (I marked out the original UPC to make sure they would stay okay with it).
Solution #3: Now that the semester is over and I no longer plan to do six hours of homework per day, I think I'll go back to making my own bread. And do you know what would be perfect to store our homemade bread in? Yep, bread bags.

Now, I know just about everyone reuses margarine containers for cereal bowls, but what other creative solutions are out there? How do you cope with non-recyclable-but-still-usable rubbish?


Lauri said...

My grandmother saved bread bags to cover our feet when it snowed, which was rare enough there to where we didn't have snow shoes. Empty plastic bowls are great for camping, or for an emergency dog bowl. I used to use them a lot for craft stuff when the kids were little. Our health food store doesn't accept containers from home anymore, which is sad. They say it's to prevent food contamination. And that's good, but it took away reusing glass jars for bulk food.

Donna said...

My husband reuses coffee cans to store nuts, bolts, screws, nails, etc.

I love your Grandma's idea for the bread bags. I would have never thought of that one. Thank her.

Su said...

@Lauri: All good ideas! Bummer about the health store, though. Fair enough if they want to prevent contamination, but if you're bringing containers from your house and taking them back to your house, what difference does it make to them? I guess they got sued once...

@Donna: Oh, yeah, coffee cans are great for all sorts of stuff! And I will pass along your thanks to my Grandma. :)

charlieschurchofchrist said...

oh man you're a better recycler than me. The best I do is give my beer bottles to friends who microbrew.

L'Aussie said...

Margarine containers? I use butter which comes wrapped in paper which is easier to recycle than plastic. The main problem is those big 2 litre milk containers that superceded bottles. You could build a mountain with those suckers. Apparently they do get recycled to make more containers.

In Germany apparently they have virtually no rubbish - everything is recycled or you pay dearly - so I'm told.


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Su said...

@Charlie: Heh heh heh.

@Denise: Our butter wrappers here aren't recyclable. :( And I do wish milk still came in glass bottles instead of plastic jugs! I've heard that about Germany, too. Alas, here in the US we're terrified of being more like Europe, so I don't see that happening for us any time soon.

Heather Henry said...

When we buy ice cream, it's usually in a big tub with a lid and a handle, those are perfect for storing things like cat food, bird seed and especially for taking a large tub of cookies to a pot luck.
I haven't recycled my bread bags, but I do like the idea of keeping them for when I bake my own bread, which I prefer to do. Do you rinse them out?

Su said...

I don't really buy much ice cream, but my mum gets those big tubs & she loves them for all sorts of things! Yes, I do rinse them out just to get the old crumbs out before reusing, mostly because I don't want bread crumbs in my oatmeal! :)

kelworthfiles said...

Well, all the way back to the nineties, I don't think I've ever heard the saying in that order. Maybe Canadians are better at prioritizing, but I don't think even in a US TV show I remember hearing it as anything other than "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

It has a good ring that way, almost a poetic meter to it! ;)

Su said...

Hmmm. Maybe I just went to the wrong school.