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Portland: no more Plastics Round-ups; let's discuss REDUCE strategies

Portland, it's time to face the music: a life without Plastics Round-ups. When the economy tanked it did some serious damage to the recycled plastics industry; there just hasn't been as big a demand for the product. The company that took all of that plastic from the Round-ups has had to retool its business and can no longer take such a massive quantity or variety of plastic. So, it's time for us (and everyone!) to take action and work on reducing the amount of plastic in our lives -- particularly plastics that can't be recycled.

I've been stockpiling crinkly plastic bags (in hopes that the Round-ups would return), like the kind that tortilla chips, some pastas and Bob's Red Mill pancake mix comes in. These types of bags cannot be recycled anywhere in the Portland area (and probably not in most other cities either). They are landfill-bound. This absolutely kills me, because manufacturing plastic is such an energy-intensive, high-emission process, and now I'm just throwing it all away. So here is the perfect incentive to start making better choices.

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(Bob, I love you, but this cannot go on.)

Here's one idea: Buy pasta in cardboard boxes or in the bulk bins. I know my co-op primarily sells packaged pasta in those crinkly plastic bags, so I'm going to ask them if there are any alternatives. (Sometimes businesses and manufacturers just need to hear from customers to make these little changes.)

Here's another: I'm pretty sure that Bob's pancake mix is also available in bulk bins at many grocery stores. But here's a radical thought: what about making your own pancake mix? This idea never occurred to me until I discovered the excellent Food in Jars blog and Marisa's tasty-sounding pancake mix recipe. I also found another mix recipe on Allrecipes.com that contains more basic ingredients. It would take five minutes to make these mixes. Store them in a sealed container and create a little label listing the amounts of the wet ingredients. Easy peasy!

Bang! I just eliminated two crinkly bags. I will not be making my own tortilla chips (that's a whole 'nother level of crazy), but we seem to be consuming less of those anyway.

We stopped buying cold cereal a few months ago, so those liners aren't an issue for us. But what about you? Those liners are not recyclable. Can you reduce the amount of cereal you are eating? Can you eat something else on occasion, like toast or eggs or muffins for breakfast?

What about those silver-colored crinkly goldfish/bunny-cracker bags? Not recyclable. Can you stove-top some popcorn to have on hand for salty snacks? Make toasted pumpkin seeds or soy nuts?

I know it's hard to change food habits, particularly when it comes to kids. And you don't need to make allofthesechangesatonce. Nor do you need to completely stop buying bunny crackers cold turkey. But pick one piece of plastic that is headed for the landfill and try to figure out how to eliminate it from your life. Make it a habit and then move on to the next piece.

Let's brainstorm. What other types of plastic containers or packaging materials would you like to reduce? Do you have any success stories to share? (And darn it, I am going to make yogurt!!! Really!)


This post was part of the Green Moms Carnival hosted by Mindful Momma. Make sure to stop by Mindful Momma and check out other conservation ideas submitted by the Green Moms.

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