Back to school means packing lunches, or at least snacks. The first thing that comes to my mind is the environment. I have long ago stopped using Ziplocs or similar products on a daily basis. For me they have very specific and limited uses in my home. Why? Because I believe that climate change is anthropogenic and progressing quickly. Why? Because I am trying to do my part. Every little bit helps.
The plastic baggie is one of those things that is so indoctrinated into our routines that many of us likely don’t give it much thought. But if you think about it just a little, it falls into one of those unnecessary things that are disposable. Too much in our society is disposable. That is one factor that contributes to pollution and climate change. Let’s face it, we are wasteful. But it is also one factor with which we, us average Joes and Janes, can alter our use easily enough to contribute to being green which in turn gives Mother Earth a leg up on slowing the global warming process and all that goes with it.
I don’t want to debate climate change here. If you are uninformed or a denier, so be it. But these are things that we can all do that certainly won’t hurt. When I pack my kids’ lunches, EVERYTHING goes into a reusable container. I have purchased some, but what I primarily use are those containers that deli meat comes in. Now before you criticize me for buying deli meat in plastic… I don’t claim to be the perfect Green Machine. I do what I can. I usually buy deli items from the deli in butcher paper only – no styrofoam, no plastic paper liner, etc. On very few occasions I will buy stuff in those containers for whatever reason. But I reuse those containers. Over the last 2-3 years I’ve accumulated about 15 of those containers and we use and reuse them until they fall apart. And they last quite a while even when washed in the dishwasher. We have also reused containers that take-out food has come in. I can’t remember the last time I purchased plastic containers for the purpose of storing and transporting food items.
Now let’s discuss recycling. If you must use plastic baggies, then recycle them. It is not the optimal solution because a great deal of plastic that we “recycle” ends up in landfills anyway. But it is better than sending them to the landfill directly. Give it a chance to be recycled and reused. One example of how plastic is reused is in composite lumber which is manufactured from sawdust and plastic that is often derived from bags. The fact of the matter is that baggies are tossed out either at school or at home. So if you must use baggies, then at least recycle them properly. Ask your children to bring them home instead of tossing them at school because schools often times don’t recycle at all or they don’t do it properly. And keep in mind that many manufacturers are coming up with “greener” alternatives. Whether it is marketing, trending or the bottom line that motivates these pushes for green alternatives within these corporations, take advantage of them.
Something else to consider is that single use items or disposable items contribute to climate change before they ever reach the consumer. Manufacturing them and shipping them takes a lot of energy, uses natural resources, and creates a lot of pollution. And, after only one use; they become more garbage – and don’t get me going on the hazards it produces for wildlife and the toxins it releases into our environment. If we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.