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Mylar bags: recycling and reuse

Mylar-balloon I will confess, since Portland's Master Recycler Plastic Roundups have gone on indefinite hiatus, it's really taxed my family's ability to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. We have not had to increase our garbage service (yippee!), but our non-curbside recycling center has gone from full to overflowing. We are still quite fortunate to have recycling depots in our areas, where we can bring non-curbside recyclables, but they do not take all the items that the Plastics Roundups did. It makes for a great textbook case of economics -- when the economy was good, we could recycle practically anything, including highly volatile recyclables. Now that the economy is crummy, we are getting a taste of how green moms in less robust recycling markets cope.

Let's talk about mylar bags specifically. Those shiny silver plasticized coffee, cookie, cracker and chip bags, granola/energy bar and candy wrappers, and let's not forget the mylar balloons that hold onto helium for almost forever, floating lower each day for what seems like months on end. Currently, there is no place we can recycle mylar film locally, which I was sad to hear from the always informative folks at Metro Recycling this week.

So once again, we look to the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle hierarchy, and apply ourselves to the Reduce/Reuse realms. I have gotten quite good at the 'Reduce' part, and always chuckle when my kids try to influence my grocery shopping:

  • Mom get us bunny crackers? Please!
  • Mom, mom. Can we have Pirate Booty, please, please, please?
  • Look mom, granola bars! I love those! Can we have them??

My answer is almost always no. Thus we've greatly reduced the amount of mylar bags we bring into our house by not buying the foods packaged in them. If you are hooked on an item that is packaged this way, say your kids cannot live without Pirate Booty, I strongly urge you to write the manufacturers. Heather's recent email to Pizzicato has prompted that responsible business into making some changes to their pizza boxes. Letter writing never hurts. Positive change can happen!

There are also enterprising folks out there who are making wallets, notebook covers, messenger bags, art smocks and other creative upcycled products out of mylar packaging. You can look into donating your mylar bags to these crafters, or if your bags fit the brands that Terracycle upcycles, you may look into forming a bag brigade. If you yourself are creative, take on a mylar upcycle craft project of your own, and send pix. We'd love to post 'em!

Lastly, a friend long ago told me that you can repurpose old mylar balloons as a gift wrap/bag if you cut a bigger opening where they are inflated. I've also heard that some places will reinflate these balloons, but have never tried this myself. Chime in if you reuse and reinflate your same balloons again and again.

How are you reducing, reusing and upcycling mylar and other plastic bags?

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