I’ve been inspired by packaging [day 28 & 29]

I’ve been inspired to create an art series, or maybe this will be a new addition to my Excessable series.  The extreme disposable excess in packaging baffles me.  In some cases, I understand where they’re coming from, however that equates to about 10% of my understanding.

mens-shirt-blank-canvasMen’s shirts.  I wrote a blog post about the ridiculous amount of packaging in men’s shirts.  It takes a good 10 minutes to take a shirt out of the package.  I’m thinking Whodini wouldn’t even be able to do it much quicker.

My idea is to use the shirt as my canvas.  I’ll attach all of the packaging to it to make info graphics to educate people about the waste.  Why buy a shirt that’s packaged like Fort Knox, using 13 different types plastic, paper and metal when you can just buy one off a hanger?  Then you can give the hanger back to the store for reuse?  Continue reading

Halfway there and frustrated [day 16]

We’re about to hit the road again.  A challenge to use nothing disposable while travelling is really difficult.  There just aren’t any options for eating on the road.  Eating in the car would require prepackaged food, or having prepared things in advance.  Since this was an unplanned trip, for the most part, it was not on my radar to make travel snacks.

5ba0c05a8d0411e2914322000a1f984e_7My family and I visited my favorite restaurant in Wisconsin, LeDuc’s Custard Shop.  I brought in my supplies, so as not to use anything disposable.  They would not allow me to use any of it.  “Health department regulations.  Sorry, we just can’t do it.”  How does a national chain like Starbucks get away with it then?  They have accommodated every request in every state so far.

I think restaurants could to more to generate less waste.  I think as consumers, we could help the process by asking for alternatives.  If we all, on some small level, chose to not take all of the paper and plastic items when there’s a choice, that would make them rethink what is unnecessary.    Continue reading

Observations of a mad woman [day 9]

Observations of a mad woman trying to be environmentally responsible:

I’m mad.  Crazy mad and mad that simple alternatives are not even on the radar.

Almond milk is good, but I’ll likely go back to my regular skim milk.  I will make this on occasion though.  Plastic milk containers can be recycled, wax-coated cartons cannot.

It’s not easy to be a container label-reader.  Unless you have memorized the cryptic plastic symbols or the company has chosen to be helpful, telling you if the packaging is recyclable, forget it.  Most of the time I’m guessing.

Here’s how the system works. If the packaging can be reused or recycled, or is made from recycled products, it will be listed as such.  If not, it won’t say anything.  Promote the good, ignore the bad.  If nothing else comes out of this, I should use my design skills and simplify the recycling types labels and present my simple system to the EPA.  Even is I was trying to shop for recyclable containers, many would be difficult to identify.  Next time you shop, try reading the labels.  What did you find?

gab-the-box-terracycle

I found this label intriguing.  Terracycle?  Never heard of it.  Bag the Box?  That makes sense, but I need more info.  Continue reading

Jellyfish don’t advertise [day 6]

I’m sitting here, drinking my almond milk latte, and thinking about yesterday.  My latte tastes pretty good.  No creaminess to it like my fat-free lattes, but it’s good.  I like that it’s healthy, which I suppose, makes me a quasi hippie.

breakfastBreakfast.  I started the day by cooking breakfast for my kids.  Yes, I can see the shock on your face.  My kids were looking at me like I was from another planet, wondering what alien life form has taken over their mother’s body.

Scrambled eggs and toast.  No, I did not make the bread from scratch.  It came out of a plastic bag.  We’re almost out of it, so we’ll be making our own or buying it fresh at Whole Foods.  Continue reading

Most say I don’t have a filter [day 4]

electrostatic-air-filters-hvacFilters: You can say I don’t have a filter, but I have proof that I do.  Yesterday, I bought a reusable HVAC filter.  I’ve always heard these are a lot of work and they’re not as effective as disposable filters.

For just under $50, I got an electrostatic life-time air filter.  I decided to take a chance and ask my HVAC guy about these yesterday morning on Facebook.  I didn’t know if I would get a reply on a Saturday, but I did!  Matco answered!  I had already done some homework on these types of filters.  When shopping for something you’re not familiar with, a little googling goes a long way.  The original filter I chose had a lot of bad reviews, to the point that I didn’t see any good reviews on it.  I had landed on this one, but I waited to hear from Matco before pressing the “send order” button.

matco-facebook-post-hvac

Continue reading

The parable of cat litter [day 3]

My goal today is to find a challenge-suitable cat litter.  There’s not enough litter left in the cat box to even cover the bottom of it.  I’ve spent the last hour and a half researching cat litter options.  Here are my findings:

non-environmental-cat-products-dumb-cat-platic-litter-searchLimited options for non-disposable or 100% biodegradable packaging.  I figure clay cat litter is a natural product anyway, but all of the added chemicals to deodorize and clump make it not so great.  I was just looking for litter I can buy in bulk, and place it in my own reusable container or 100% biodegradable packaging.  I’ll let you know how this plays out after my trip to the local pet store.

Products are designed for comfort and ease.  “Make your life easier!  Buy all of this plastic crap (pun intended), throw it away and start clean and fresh!” Seriously, a Diaper Genie for cat poop?  Yes, I’d like to keep the poop for a while and make it into plastic sausage links.  Really??!?

All-inclusive marketing.  Dumb Cat is pretty clever.  I call my cat that name all the time, but I don’t need a spray to make her dumber.  How about the  environmentally friendly plastic bags?  The polyethylene* allows us to make the bags thinner.  Thinner than not using one?  No. And I’m just picturing my kids taking that out to the trash can.  “Mom!!  I don’t how that bag broke, I was just walking it out to the trash can!”  Yeah, slinging it around and hitting his brother with it.  Bad vision!  Let’s move on.  Continue reading

non-breakable [minimalist challenge item #248]

[item] Orange and lime green plastic plates

[purchase info] Purchased at a thrift store

[time in my possession] Approximately 4 months ago

[last used] Once, about 2 months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[replacement item] None

[info] I just don’t need these.  I have mis-matched dishes.  If one breaks, I just buy another.

I only have a kitchen because it came with the house… [minimalist challenge item #219]

[item] 2 Napkins with funny sayings and a plastic wrapped paper towel

[purchase info] All give to me

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] I used them, you know, like regular napkins and a paper towel.

[replacement item] None

[info] I Got the napkins as a gift.  All the rest were used but I really liked them, so I hung on to one of each design.  Napkin hoarding.  I’m ashamed to say that.  As for the paper towel, that was given to me as a joke because I’m so anti-paper towels.  Plastic?  In case of emergency, tear it?  Seriously.  Everyone should use their sleeves like my kids do.

what’s my address? [minimalist challenge item #205]

[item] Plastic address house numbers

[purchase info] Came with the house

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] 2 weeks ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Trash

[replacement item] None yet, but looking for a free alternative

[info] I’m not sure if I can justify buying new house numbers, so I’m going to make some out of tile pieces.  The ones in the back broke when they were taken off to have my house painted.  The front ones are still okay, but warped.  I’ve never been in love with these so I’m going to replace them.  I totally forgot I had taken these off and freecycled a bunch of stuff.  Nobody could find my house.

is it really any different because you buy it somewhere else?

I said, “No fast food through the end of the year.”  Why?  Mostly because of the wastefulness of it.  The amount of disposable plastics, paper and styrofoam bothers me.  We do fast food places out of convenience.  I just wanted to see how badly I needed fast food in my life.  My kids have missed it a little bit, but not much.  I also miss it on occasion, but not too much either.

I had to work today, and right after work, I had to bring a main dish to a potluck lunch.  I went to Cane’s Chicken.  It’s clearly a fast food place, complete with a drive-thru and lots of paper waste.  I bought in bulk, only buying the tailgate 25 piece pack.  Now I could have stopped at Kroger and picked up some chicken that was already prepared.  It would also be in disposable containers, although I could have placed it in a reusable bag.  So my big questions is…

Is it any different buying prepackaged (prepared) food at the grocery store versus a fast food place?

I have to answer, “No.”   I will still continue my no fast food places, but I need to add on these simple shopping changes.

  • Compare.  If the paper waste is the thing that’s bothering me, whether I shop at the grocery store or anywhere else, I need to consider the waste involved.  Just because I buy it at the grocery store doesn’t mean that I’m not being wasteful.
  • Call it what it is.  The grocery store has fast food.  It’s in the form of deli sandwiches, sushi, fountain drinks and many other forms.  If I buy a ham sandwich already made at Tom Thumb, that’s the same as buying a burger from a fast food place.  Same container, same pre-made food, same waste amount.
  • Plan.  I should have done a better job planning ahead for my potluck meal.  I could have made something the night before and picked it up on the way over there.  My bad.

There’s a new container-less grocery store opening this fall in Austin, TX called in.gredients… if they meet their fundraising goals.  I love this idea!!  Listen to the radio talk about it.  This is such a cool concept!  See how it works.

This is greatness.  Maybe I should help them get rolling in Austin, then I’ll open one here.  Check out the in.gredients website.