The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship:
Sometimes the easiest things are still worth mentioning.
I was watching my husband peel the biggest plastic bag you ever did see off a new mattress today and thinking about my modest little pile of “plastic bags to reuse so I don’t have to throw them away.”
Even though my contribution to keeping trash out of the landfill is but a drop in the ocean, it still makes me feel good about doing what I can.
What is my bag collection all about?
Do you use plastic bags?
I don’t know about you, but I do reuse plastic zippered bags. I don’t use them often at all, but in my packed fridge and freezer, I often need something collapsible that takes up as little space as possible. So I do use plastic, and I do wash and reuse them (but sometimes I skip a step).
When I get liquid products that I order via Amazon or Vitacost, they always come shipped in plastic zippered bags. I’m pretty sure the post office must mandate that in case of leaks. Why Shutterfly also puts our yearly Christmas gift calendars for all the grandparents in individual plastic bags, I cannot understand.
I also cannot bring myself to lather up those dry, sort of clean plastic bags so I can use them for cut lettuce or frozen strawberries.
I hate the feeling of throwing them away, and I know that recycling really is only a drop in the drop in the ocean, since quite a bit of the plastic still ends up as a waste product.
So, I keep them.
And they keep me organized.
Here’s what I do with my stash.
Once I had bags on hand, I began finding all sorts of little non-food items that needed to be contained:
- little hairties
- Nerf gun darts
- birthday candles once the package is opened
- rubber bands
- my own liquids for traveling, whether by plane or vehicle
- beans for a preschool work and cards for a lacing work (more free preschool activities to create)
- Q-tips and other bathroom cabinet dealies
- sending coins to school (try to default to an envelope, reclaimed from the junk mail if possible, for papers and regular communication – many schools will at least recycle paper)
And Toys…Oh, the Toys!
Just about every time we open up a toy, especially the inexpensive dollar store variety, we discover a multitude of pieces with no way to contain them. Keeping plastic bags of all sizes on hand that need to be given new life takes the guesswork out of “What do we do with this?”
I have half a dozen different zippered bags keeping things organized in our “church bag,” the one that is always packed with quiet, fun activities for church, and it stays in the van so we’re never unprepared:
- wipe-off markers and cloths to erase
- felt finger puppets
- holy cards
- Sesame Street flat magnets and board
- homemade lacing works
I can’t help it if other people choose to put 10 quarters to give to my children in a baggie instead of an envelope, but I can reuse that baggie for something else once it’s in my possession.
It’s a little drop, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Will you join me?
The challenge for you is just to set up the system in your home – decide on a location for the bags and remember that they’re there. If you don’t get plastic bags in the mail, this applies to zippered bag that get holes in them and can’t be used for food anymore, too. (If you don’t use plastic at all – good for you! Watch for fabric baggies if you buy homemade jewelry or other small items.)
That part is easy.
The harder “green” question is, of course, whether I should be shopping online in the first place. I love that it’s so much easier to click around a bit than drag three kiddos from store to store, but when my backup canned beans that I use when I haven’t soaked dry beans come rolled in two feet of bubble wrap…let’s just say I have to question my choices.
Do you order food and basic supplies online? How do you deal with the packaging?
|Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t actually save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she keeps plugging away hopefully. Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other eBooks, available for Kindle.|