Is it Easy Being Green?

My daily adventures in attempting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

Cap recycling, revisited May 10, 2010

Filed under: plastic,recycling — isgreeneasy @ 5:15 pm
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Last February I wrote a post about a new plastic cap recycling program Aveda started, and ever since then I’ve been saving my caps. It’s a little shocking how many caps have accumulated–

A year's worth of plastic caps

A year’s worth of plastic caps

I thought about counting them, but without rubber gloves I didn’t really want to mess with it. But there were a bunch. It felt satisfying to take them in for recycling rather than throwing them out, but it also made me think about how much plastic we still use, and how I can work on changing that. There are so many things that come in plastic bottles! I’m still going to work on it, but meanwhile I’ll keep on saving those caps.

Oh and yes, I did make an unplanned purchase of lipstick while I was at the Aveda store. How could I resist?

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Sigg-nificant frustration October 30, 2009

Filed under: Green Foodie,plastic,reducing waste,water — isgreeneasy @ 5:20 pm
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I just went on my third trip to Whole Foods to attempt to exchange my old Sigg bottles with no success. It’s my own darn fault–I just can’t find bottle designs I’m happy with, so each time I’ve gone to return them, I’ve decided to hold out and hope for some better designs to come in. Why am I doing this? Well, in case you haven’t heard, a couple of months ago Sigg announced that their bottle liners have trace amounts of BPA in them. What’s worse is that they knew about this for a few years without telling the public. There was quite the hostile and disappointed response on the web from people who had put their faith in what they thought was an eco-minded company.

Some people have trashed their bottles, but the company has been offering a free exchange program so that people can return the old tainted bottles for bottles with the new “EcoCare” liner that is BPA-free. So, since I have four Sigg bottles I decided to go with the exchange rather than waste the investment I put into the bottles (they’re not cheap!). But now I guess I can’t quite do it; I think due to bitterness about the whole situation and ambivalence about continuing to use Sigg bottles. It’s disappointing (I trusted this product) and scary (what else am I being misled about?) when you think you’re doing the right thing for the environment and for your health, only to find out that that wasn’t as much the case as you thought. It’s hard enough trying to live green without feeling screwed over by the company that makes those stylish bottles!

This all goes back to my quest to get my husband (and myself to a lesser extent) off of plastic water bottles. About five years back, I would buy a case of water at Costco fairly regularly, and it was really bothering me. Not only was it wasteful, but there were pesky bacteria and leaching issues if we reused the bottles. I also didn’t want to be contributing to the crazy amounts of bottled water being consumed in the world. So, I bought several reusable bottles, filled them with water and kept them in the fridge so we’d always have water ready to go. It’s worked really well and has been totally worth the investment, even with this Sigg setback.

I’m sure I’ll pick out some bottles sometime soon and have my new and improved Siggs. But, I won’t feel quite as cool while using them, and I won’t be buying them anymore. There are a lot of other good options out there. They might not look as hip, but oh well.

 

Recycle Those Caps February 9, 2009

Filed under: plastic,recycling — isgreeneasy @ 12:53 pm
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I recycle. I know the drill. Take the cap off the plastic bottle, throw the cap away, recycle the bottle. It’s always been disappointing to me to have to throw that cap away, even though I understand why I must.
1. Plastic caps are made from a different type of plastic and have a different melting point than bottles, so they can contaminate a batch during the recycling process and ruin the whole load.
2. Plastic bottles are crushed and baled together, and if caps are left on it makes it harder to compress the bottles. This creates trapped air and possibly water in the bottles. See Lesson 6 in this post on Fake Plastic Fish.
3. Because of their small size, the caps can create difficulties during the sorting process, such as ending up mixed in with pieces of glass and causing problems with glass recycling.
4. Caps create a litter issue at recycling facilities and beyond, and can be dangerous to wildlife.

So, was I thrilled to hear about Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program! You can save all of your bottle caps and bring them to any Aveda store for recycling. Aveda will then have them recycled into new caps and containers for Aveda products. On their website, Aveda explains what types of caps they accept; they basically take any rigid plastic caps. They are also encouraging schools to participate.

This effort is a great example of a company taking responsibility for a waste issue that they contribute to and coming up with a workable solution that also involves community. Of course plastic is not the most favorable material to use at all, but the more that consumers and companies can find ways to reduce plastic waste while also finding markets to recycle it, we’re on the right track. If Aveda is truly recycling the caps into new caps, that’s a rare case of recycling plastic into the same product again and being able to recycle it repeatedly, as opposed to the typical one-time recycling of plastic into something different (ex: plastic bottles recycled into unrecyclable park benches).

So, take your caps to Aveda and thank them for doing this! While you’re there, you’ll probably be enticed into buying something, which I’m sure is something they’re after as well.

 

My top five December 4, 2008

Having finally just read High Fidelity, I thought I would start with a top five list. This will be the kind you check things off of–the good kind. My list consists of some greenish things I’ve had on my mind lately. Some have gone no further than my mind, while others I’ve done a little something about, but not enough. Here we go (in alphabetical order):

1. Composting — I want to compost! Having lived in CA for three years and worked at an environmental education center, I had three, count ’em three, composting options at my fingertips. My workplace had a compost bin, a worm bin and a “green bin” for the municipal organics recycling program. Now in Chicago in a high-rise apartment building with no municipal program, no yard for a compost bin and a husband adamantly opposed to having a worm bin in our home, the options are more limited. I’m going to see what I can do…

2. Dryer Sheets — These are just one of those things that I’ve somehow overlooked. I grew up using them and have just never stopped. I thought I was doing a good thing by not using any of that liquid stuff, and I use the unscented kind. But then I read something about the chemicals in dryer sheets and I suddenly felt like an eco-dummy. What can I replace my beloved dryer sheets, and do I in fact need to make the switch?

3. Food — I do love my food. As Liz Lemon on 30 Rock says in response to the question “Are you hungry?” she replies, “Always!” I’ve been getting more into organics, farmer’s markets, cooking healthy, etc. over the past few years. I recently attended a “locavore” class and an event focused on local farming, and both of those have really motivated me to go local. I want to see how feasible and practical it is to get more local stuff into my shopping repertoire.

4. Plastics — Just when I think I’ve rid my life of the majority of plastics, another plastic container will pop out in front of me. Oh, how they taunt me! Let’s face it, it’s impossible to be completely rid of plastic, but what else is there that I can get rid of or replace that I haven’t yet? I will investigate.

5. Home Air Quality — Just what are those candles that I (used to) enjoy burning putting out into the atmosphere? And even though I’ve been known to kill a few plants, what kind of difference can plants make for air quality in my apartment? Indoor air quality is supposed to sometimes be way worse than outdoor, so what else might be going on at home that affects the air we breathe? And will sniffing the breeze from the chocolate factory a few blocks away make me gain weight?

There’s more where these came from, but that’ll do it for now.