I don't know why I didn't come across any recyclable bottles or cans on Monday. I walked a long distance over streets that are usually strewn with recyclables, but there were no recyclables to be seen. All I picked up was a single piece of polystyrene. I almost didn't bother writing this blog entry, because a single piece of polystyrene is hardly significant, but, in the interest of maintaining a complete record of the trash I pick up, decided I should record my feeble trash collection effort of the day.
I haven't been doing very well lately with avoiding plastic. Some of the items giving me problems are:
Lip balm. The weather has been nasty, and I want real lip balm, not shea butter.
Breakfast cereal. I keep thinking I should switch to bulk oatmeal, but I don't always have access to a stove so the only type of oatmeal that really works for me is the "one minute" kind. I really should get around to looking into how regular oats get turned into minute oats. If it's something simple I could do at home, buying bulk oatmeal may be a good way to avoid bagged breakfast cereals.
Dishwashing gloves. My old pair became unusable some time ago, and since then I've been washing dishes with bare hands. It worked well until I washed dishes for three hours straight. The next morning, I discovered the skin on my hands peeling off in a most disgusting fashion. I bought new gloves later that day.
Shampoo. I usually wash my hair using bar soap, but whenever I have an important meeting I use bottled shampoo.
Clif bars. They're on sale this week. I'm only human and cannot resist!
Work items. I use disposable vinyl products at work and don't anticipate being able to avoid them any time soon. (On a more positive note, I'm proud to say that even though my job involves seemingly endless off-site meetings, I've never owned a car and have managed to get to each and every meeting by bus or on foot.)
I'll keep trying to avoid disposable plastic, but don't anticipate much progress in the near future.
3 plastic bottles (1 Dasani water, 1 Coca-Cola, 1 bottle without a label)
1 torn plastic bag
the tear-off tops of two sets of newspaper bags
When I was approaching the end of my travels on Thursday, I thought about how short that day's recital would be. I hadn't found any bottles or cans at that point, only the remains of plastic bags. Then, right before I finished plodding through the cold, I came across 6 glass bottles on one block followed by 3 plastic bottles on the next.
Two of Thursday's plastic bottles were noteworthy for the unusual physical damage that had been done to them. The label-free plastic bottle was torn apart at both ends while the middle was left intact. The tearing looks intentional, yet I can't think of any motivation except perhaps for a display of manly strength. The Dasani bottle is even more perplexing, because it's in perfect shape except for three holes with smooth, flat edges. Could the plastic have been melted away somehow? Why on earth would anyone do that to their water bottle?
Another little mystery I can't get out of my mind is why my current neighborhood is the only one I've ever lived in that is frequently littered with the tops of sets of newspaper bags, even though I've always lived in places with high rates of home newspaper delivery. Until I moved here, I wasn't even aware that newspaper bags had tear-off top sections that were stapled together. I always knew that newspapers were delivered inside plastic bags, but I never gave any thought to how the bags were bundled together before being used by the people who deliver newspapers. Then, I came here, and soon came across the stapled-together tops of the bags, often with several complete bags still attached. Until very recently, I threw the bag tops straight into the nearest trash can, but now they're recyclable where a friend lives so I can take them to her house for recycling. Anyway, although I can understand newspaper delivery people being litterbugs, I find it odd that I never came across these bag tops before moving here.
2 plastic bottles (1 Tropicana pink lemonade, 1 water bottle without a label)
1 black pen
2 dirty plastic bags
The plastic bags had a tar-like substance on them that wouldn't rinse off in plain water. I could still have used the bags as trash bags, but they smelled bad and I didn't want to keep them around until I needed a new trash bag so I threw them out.
Do you ever notice bottles, cans and plastic bags by the side of a hiking trail or city sidewalk? I see them almost every day, and often pick them up and take them home for recycling or reuse. Intrigued by the seasonal patterns of what gets thrown out, I started keeping a log of the recyclables I collected. This blog consists primarily of daily tallies of the items I've picked up. Occasionally, I'll also write about other environmental issues, like my attempts to cut down on my consumption of electricity.