This is sobering motivation to recycle less...not more. I don't mean that we can just chuck our plastic tubs in the trash, but that we need to reconsider buying things in tubs to begin with. Major manufacturers are not yet seeing any of this as their problem. They are not rushing to find ways to stop the use of plastic (though there are some tiny glimmers of hope). This country needs to take responsibility for its own waste + so do we, as individuals. There really is no "away", when we throw things away...especially when it comes to plastic.
A great way to address our personal recycling habits is to take inventory of what ends up in our own recycling bins each week. This tribe used to recycle a lot of milk jugs + yogurt tubs. I was able to find milk in reusable glass jugs in our area. We return these durable jugs each week + receive our deposit money back. The jugs are sterilized + used over + over again. I decided to try making my own yogurt from this milk. Now we've swapped two habits + cut a large volume out of our recycling. Instead of buying cans of chickpeas + beans, I now buy them dry in bulk. A quart at a time, they get cooked + frozen in portion size jars. We grow tomatoes in our backyard, cook them down into sauce + freeze them to use year round...instead of buying cans of tomato sauce or mealy tomatoes in February. (Buying a box of tomatoes at the farmer's market could accomplish the same ends.) Lots of cans have now been saved from being made + needing to be recycled. (yay!)
A few more of our favorites that used to involve recycling + how we eliminate the recycling ::
-plastic or paper grocery bags: bring reusable bags or skip the bag
-canned or frozen fruits, vegetables: buy fresh loose fruits + vegetables, putting them together in reusable bags (I use two baby Baggus)...freeze some seasonal produce for later
-strawberries: grow our own + freeze some for later
-blueberries: go to a pick-your-own spot, pick + freeze some
-hummus: make our own from bulk chickpeas + spices
-cottage cheese: skip it
-sour cream: homemade yogurt usually works well as a swap
-bread, rolls + bagels in plastic bags: bulk placed in cloth bags
-peanut butter: buy in bulk or make it with bulk nuts or seeds
-cream cheese in tubs: top bagels with butter, nut butter +/or jam
-feta + olives: put some from the salad bar in my own container
-tortillas: skip or make our own
-frozen french fries: make our own
-shampoo bottles: buy it in bulk or as a package-free bar
-cosmetics: choose cosmetics packaged in glass, make at home or skip altogether
A few more tips for avoiding recyclables:
-Lots of things can be bought in bulk. In our area we can find rice, quinoa, flours, sugars, spices, nuts, seeds, kombucha, chocolate chips, dried fruit, oats, candy, legumes, feta, granola, honey, oil, tea, bar soap + more at a grocery store.
-A farmer's market is a great place to shop for package-free items as well...but I need to be quick to refuse a plastic bag in many cases.
-Skip the middle aisles at the grocery store (where most of the packaged items reside).
-Choose glass over plastic when necessary, as glass jars can be reused or recycled more locally.
-Organize a number of tasty recipes that are as zero-waste as possible
-There might be a few things without ready solutions that just don't fit our lifestyle or values anymore...or they might become occasional indulgences rather than weekly staples.
-Bring reusable cups to the coffee shop.
-Eat out where they offer real plates, cups + silverware.
-Carry a scarf or bandana to use as a napkin or to wrap a bagel in.
-Take lunches in reusable containers (jars or metal box).
-Take water in a reusable water bottle.
-Clean with water, vinegar, rags + an old spray bottle.
-Just opt out of using as many packaged products as possible. :)
A few more resources ::
-The Story of Stuff's campaign to get companies to take responsibility for the packaging they put their products in.
-Bea Johnson's talk on recycling less.
-A little more on zero-waste.
Now I'm off to rifle through the recycling bin!