Recently I’ve been considering packaging and how that is a major part of buying anything from the grocery store, or any retail store for that matter. As one of my resolutions, I want to eliminate as much packaging and wasteful plastic use as possible. This is hard to do considering much of the food I buy is from Trader Joe’s- I love the store! However my major issue with them is how most of their produce comes already in plastic bags or cardboard and plastic-wrapped containers.
One of the ways to resolve this could be to shop at other holistic stores and local grocers or farmer’s markets to pick my own produce there, and bring my own bags. This is something I really enjoy and now many cities are offering winter markets, so you can have fresh seasonal produce all year long! I also have made plans to design my own garden (another hobby of mine) so that I can grow most of my food on a plot, instead of having to buy it-this will be in another post titled Garden Planner. Another way I realized I could help is by making sure I save all of the plastic packaging I get and bringing it to a site specifically made to recycle just these materials. In most single or two-stream town recycling programs, there is not a way for the plastic machines to handle the thin plastic sheets and bags that are leftover after we’re done with our products. The plastic is too thin and when it is mixed with the larger, harder plastics, it can actually get stuck in the processing machines and cause them to malfunction. However, more towns are finding ways to handle these plastic films often in the form of plastic shopping bags, Ziploc bags, and plastic packaging.
Recently I found the website PlasticFilmRecycling.org. Here you can find locations by your zip code to see where to drop off your plastic film leftovers. There is also information on what sorts of plastic are accepted, and then eventually what they will be recycled into! The plastics currently not accepted are the plastic bags for pre-washed lettuces and for frozen foods, along with compostable bags. However, there is still a ton of packaging that can now have a place in the recycling stream. There’s even a tab that helps you to start your own collection program, as well as report places that take these recyclables but is not in their directory. Check out the Wrap Recycling Action Program page to see how to get businesses and stakeholders of communities to get involved too! I think this is great especially for communities that are trying to reduce their packaging and being civically involved in a collective effort.
As a planner, an environmentalist, and a civic-minded person, I want to do my part and make sure from now on, I save all of my plastic packaging and film, bring it to the nearest location, and feel good that I do not have to wonder what exactly is going to happen to the leftover packaging. I hope you will visit the site, spread the word about it, and find your nearest location to help recycle these plastics that are often seen as small but really have huge impacts on the environment.