Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Drowning in a Sea of Plastic

- particularly polystyrene packaging. It's everywhere and I hate the stuff. The other day I spoke to my butcher. I asked why it was that all butchers seem to package meat on polystyrene trays, since it was the worst plastic of all for the environment. He was a bit vague about the answer and also was rather vague on whether it was biodegradable (it's not). So I said that I was considering moving to another butcher where they weigh and pack the customer's meat on demand, and the only packaging is a plastic bag. He told me that if I phoned in an order in the morning, they would happily pack it in plastic bags for me and I could pick it up on the way home. Now, I just have to get organised enough to do that. Or better still, stop in on my way to work to find out what's on special, order and then pick it up on the way home. I'm sure I'll keep forgetting to be so organised.

There was an article in our newspaper at the weekend about a man who has no rubbish. He recycles what he can. We have kerbside recycling here for paper, tin and aluminium cans, glass, and plastics of type 1 and 2. He composts, presumably, and reuses things. But no rubbish? Well, apparently if he ever buys a new appliance (infrequently), he takes the polystyrene packaging back to the shop and tells them it's their problem. I think that's cheating a little, since it still enters the waste stream. Though if enough people did it, maybe the manufacturers would stop using it. You can cut cardboard to make rigid supports inside the carton, after all - or I have seen supports made out of moulded cardboard (the same as is used in New Zealand for egg cartons).

Back to our "no waste" gentleman - if it can't be recycled, he keeps it till it can. He has a shed at the bottom of his garden for this purpose. My first thought was "wow! what does his wife think of that?" Then I realised it's not such a bad idea. There's a lot of "stuff" in our house (I dare not call it "junk") which I'd be glad to have in a shed at the bottom of the garden. Stacks and stacks of papers, enough computers to start a museum, computer parts, and general bits and pieces...

5 comments:

paris parfait said...

I applaud all efforts to recycle. I think manufacturers have a long way to go to realise the waste they're creating and to stop it. The worst is packing materials. And I wish they would outlaw those pull-out subscription and advertising cards inside magazines!

Star said...

I hadn't given the meat trays a thought. I think the ones my market uses are more of a cardboard now. Michele sent me.

Deb R said...

A rant after my own heart. It drives me nuts when I see something packaged in stores or receive something in the mail that has way more packaging than it needs. There's got to be some sort of line between enough packaging to keep things clean or to ship them safely and overdoing it to the point of making all sorts of excess waste. Too bad we don't seem to have found it yet!

Catherine said...

Our supermarket sells disposable plates made of potato starch - definitely biodegradable. I'm trying to remember to take my own bags to the supermarket rather than accumulating the plastic ones. Though I need some plastic bags around here, because I need them to recycle my paper in!
Paris Parfait - the subscription cards don't bother me at all, they just get recycled with the rest of the paper. As I do admin for a small literary magazine, I realise that an easy way to subscribe is essential for magazines to survive.

Kay Pere said...

I'm a compulsive recycler. The things we can't recycle, I have a hard time throwing away. For 2-3 years I collected plastic bits with interesting shapes and colors, thinking I might eventually make them into a sculpture with a statement about waste. Filled 3 large tubs in the attic. During a cleaning spree this past year I took them all out to the trash. Now I miss them.