Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Taking a moment to be a bit eco-maniacal and preachy here, but this article is both informative and helpful. Ever think about those 8-million styrofoam containers that come with takeout?

How green is your takeaway container?

It doesn't take a lot of effort to avoid some of this stuff. Styrofoam is tricky because it's cheap and everyone uses it. Still, the clamshells can be reused if they're not heavily soiled. Don't microwave plastic, though. One big thing D. and I like to do is collect the thick and clear plastic (#6 plastic) containers that are occasionally used by Chinese and Thai restaurants for soup and curry. They're thick, sturdy, and perfect for freezing things like homemade soup, stock, or ice cream.

Another thing to do is just eat at the restaurant. Unless the restaurant delivers, you're going to have to pick it up. If it's relatively fast service, then eating there prevents a lot of waste and you don't lose much time at all. One good example is pho. It takes 2-3 containers/bags to hold the soup, noodles, and accouterments. Ordering it, driving there, and driving home doesn't save you much time than eating it there.

As for the corn/potato-based flatware, I've had gelato at places that use corn-based cups and spoons. All biodegradable and not at all different from plastic. With bags, my cloth and canvas tote bag collection is huge. Whatever plastic bags we end up with, we recycle or use for trash bags and B.'s poopage. When we have our own place, I'm composting B.'s poop along with food waste.

If you have greens waste, like the cuttings from vegetable chopping, you don't need a yard to compost. Do what J. does and make a worm box. All you need is some wet newspaper, a big Tupperware storage box (not the clear ones), and a big handful of worms. They'll eat your cuttings and wilted veggies. In return, free potting soil. I'm a bit adverse to handling worms, but that's what gloves are for and I'm probably going to start my own worm box soon so I'll have some fertile material for spring planting. It's perfect for rentals and small living areas. The box is fully contained and doesn't smell, so it can sit by the washing machine or out on a balcony. Technically, B.'s poop is good for worms, too, but I'm going to have to say that storing his poop in a sealed bin is not something I'd like to do. It should degrade in open air.

Kudos to San Diego for expanding it's capacity to accept recyclable plastics. We're not sure when the policy changed, but it used to only be #1 and #2 plastic. Now they're going up to #7 (with #5 margarine-tub-esque plastics exempted) and they're threatening fines against people who are putting recyclables in the trash. Not sure how that's going to be enforced, but it's a start.

All righty... I'm off the soapbox now.

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