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?


No Impact Experiment, part 2: Trash January 13, 2010

Filed under: composting,recycling,reducing waste,Reuse — isgreeneasy @ 5:56 pm
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The second week of my No Impact Experiment focused on one of my favorite subjects–trash. I think about trash a lot–maybe a little too much. But this gave me a chance to think about it even more! The instructions were to save all of my trash for one day and separate it into piles of stuff I used for more or less than 10 minutes, and then think about how it made me feel. Then I was supposed to put together a no trash travel kit consisting of a reusable water bottle and mug, tupperware, old t-shirt or handkerchief and reusable produce bags. Throughout the week I was to keep track of what I absolutely had to throw away and couldn’t find an alternative for.

So what I found out is a) I’ve been dropping the ball on reusing a durable coffee mug when I buy my americanos; b) I use a decent amount of tissues; c) food waste is definitely, by far, the thorn in my trashy side; and d) the answer to how creating trash makes me feel is: crazy. I weighed my waste one day and had 1.7 pounds, most of which was food waste like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells, plus a hefty five pound turkey carcass (it was a couple of days after Thanksgiving and I made turkey soup). Food waste is heavy and takes up a lot of room in the garbage. Since starting my little composting project I’m able to compost some food waste, but because I have a small bin I can only compost a fraction of what I create, which is so frustrating! I looked into how No Impact Man was able to compost everything in the middle of NYC, and he had worm bin for some of the waste and dropped off the rest for a local environmental group that does composting.

I also looked through my recycling bin, because even though it’s not going to the landfill, these are still resources that I used for a short time and will be “down-cycled” to the point of not being able to be recycled anymore at some point. Our recycling bin always fills up fast, which is definitely better than throwing things in the garbage, but it still isn’t ideal. Many of those things could just not be there in the first place. I had one pound, 12 ounces of recycling from two days, and it consisted mostly of paper–newspaper, mail, packaging–and then also included a milk container, apple cider jug and a couple of glass jars.

So where can I make improvements? Since the trash week I’ve been much better at taking my own mug when I buy coffee; I’ve used it probably half of the time which isn’t too bad. I’ve also worked on reusing produce bags when I shop; I’ve been good about using durable shopping bags, but I’ve been pretty inconsistent with the produce bags. I’ve been thinking a little more about packaging, for instance, I’m trying to never buy meat in the plastic or styrofoam containers–instead I’m getting the paper-wrapped meats from the butcher counter. That will still create waste, but it’s not quite as evil as the plastic. Those are a few changes I’m working on so far, and I’m still thinking about other changes I can make. I don’t know if I’m willing to replace tissues with handkerchiefs, just don’t know about that one right now.

The unavoidable food scrap waste is just going to be an ongoing dilemma I fear. I am going to look into giving my food scraps to a local farm at my farmer’s market; I’ve heard that some of them may take organic waste. I’m at least working on wasting less food buy buying/cooking more realistic amounts, so hopefully that will help a bit. Fortunately my husband is a leftover-eating king, so he’s doing his part for the team! More trash-reducing updates to come!


Recycle Those Caps February 9, 2009

Filed under: plastic,recycling — isgreeneasy @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , ,

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.