Reusing Plastics to Cut Down on Waste

I’m very lucky to live in Seattle, where farmer’s markets are nearby and year round, where even the conventional grocery stores carry local and organic (though still, not as much as I’d like), and I can buy items in bulk easily, including at co-ops and small markets, bath and body items.

Today I peeled the labels (using Citra-Solv to get the gunk off as needed) off of my old conditioner bottle to prep it for being filled with bulk conditioner (Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner) at my co-op. I dutifully weighed and labeled my bottle with the tare weight, to save the cashier any trouble.

I proceeded to do this with some other plastic containers I had lying around. I have about 4 clean plastic containers, once used for cottage cheese, sour cream and cream cheese, all great for taking home bulk items.

Why bother with all this? Well, we’re already using cloth bags to go to the market, and I’m already re-using an empty bath salts container to get more bath salt, so why not? Why use new plastic bags for bulk items when we have perfectly good (and easily washed) plastic containers that, at best, might be downcycled domestically and at the worst, chucked into the ocean (adding to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) or burned in the developing world (where it was sent to be “recycled.”)

I’m still working on the balancing act between being a part of the world and choosing where to opt-out or minimally opt-in. I don’t claim to be completely awesome at this. Especially because there is always some news item about current research that conflicts with previous assertions. The truth is that there is no blanket statement that you can go by – it’s really a case-by-case scenario, like why I chose conventional Argentine garlic over organic Argentine garlic (which was at least 4x the cost). This is because I have trouble trusting the veracity of many organic claims from abroad as well as those domestically grown, USDA certified organic.

My first choice is local sourced organic. Second, local sourced or organic domestic. Third is domestic or organic Canadian (preferably from BC, our neighbor directly north.) Luckily I don’t usually have to go to the fourth option which is organic from abroad, or give up.

For my bath/body products, I’m trying to remember that the labels “natural” and “organic” mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in things other than food. (Which recalls that “natural flavors” in food just means that the ester or whatever was distilled from a natural product, and can be chemically identical to a synthetically produced chemical.) Lots of things are naturally derived, including Vaseline. Petroleum is natural, right?

It’s a big world to tackle. Today, I’m just trying to smartly re-use.