Art store run!

Went by the Utrecht art supplies store. Loose pencil (also china markers and colored pencils, in lieu of markers), gum erasers, metal rulers, gummed paper tape and a wide variety of paper supplies — all without additional plastic or extra packaging.

Which is why I think of the art stores as good office supplies stores.

“The Story of Bottled Water”

A great video; a follow up to The Story of Stuff. The video is more than eight minutes long, so I suspect it’s use is best for those who are already convinced to make a case, rather than sugesting your indifferent friends to watch it.

The matching site also has other resources, including an annotated script.

Small good news from vacation plastic-alypse

Hubby and I got back from a trip to Paris and Cologne, and boy did I blow through some plastic. I even drank some bottled water — which I’d normally not do — because the available tap options were unclear and I don’t even want to think about plastic table wear.

But there are a couple of bits of good news for those who might follow.

  1. Paris is trying to promote its own water. It’s quite delicious. While asking for a carafe of water is common knowledge in restaurants, it’s harder to find public fountains. I noticed that a potable water tap is included on the exterior of the new generation of sidewalk-side toilets now being installed in many neighborhoods.
  2. All the fruit I bought came in thin paper — not plastic — bags.
  3. Paris Metro was a wonderful value. We used carnets of tickets, bought at ticket booths. The tickets were not padded or packaged, but simply a pile of paper and magnetic-strip tickets. Nice.

Water in Paris

The key to plastic tubs

My husband and I used to get soup from the Chinese take-out across the street almost every week. But we moved last September, and changed our usual mode of eating well before that. So how old are those plastic tubs? A year, more?

They’re still fine: no cracks, stains or signs of damage. Why? A office mate once scolded me for microwave-heating up leftovers in one of them. He was more concerned about chemicals leaching into my food, but I realized that heating these tubs damaged them, ruining them and sending them to the landfill.

Now I also have a few durable, water-tight plastic containers I bought. These should last for years. But I also use the soup containers with one inalterable rule.

Don’t put them in the microwave

Trader Joe’s bag a win on all counts

I went at Trader Joe’s — a specialty grocery store, for those unfamiliar — a few days ago directly from work , but didn’t have my own bag. Since some of the nonwoven cloth bags (read: plastic) at home were beginning to show their age, I went ahead and picked up a large canvas bag at Trader Joe’s on the way to the register.

Not only was it attractive — red, with the logo over-pritned in black and white — and canvas — thus will biodegrade — but it was made in Lowell, Massachusetts and was large enough for all the groceries I had.

Even the tag was plastic free.

Bottled water makes Episcopalian agenda

An interesting item among the legislation already submitted to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention. That body meets in July. If passed the measure would resolve to “ask the Church to restrict, starting immediately, the use of bottled water at General Convention and at other Church-sponsored activities.”

A045 at General Convention site

D.C. bag bill makes unanimous step forward

Good news. The D.C. Council has passed unanimously a bill that charges a five-cent fee for grocery-style shopping bads, plastic or paper, for the sake of the trash-filled Anacostia River. (Part of the collected fee will go to fund durable bags for low-income Washingtonians.)

Reportage from DCist and WashingtonPost.com.

Not all reusable bags are created equal

I’ve been using reusable grocery bags for years, but not for any reason the hip or fashionable would recognize. First, I had no car for long periods in Georgia, and that meant long walk and bus waits to get groceries: overloaded plastic bags cut into your fingers. (I also used a backpack to shop.) Second, my dreadful little apartment had a roach problem and both plastic and paper bags — if saved — gave them convenient homes. If thrown out, well, that’s wasteful. Mesh bags from the co-op were ideal.

Fast forward to today. Now everyone has them, and it’s hard to find a big event in D.C. where someone isn’t using the reusable bag as giveaway swag. The problem is that most are made of a nonwoven plastic fiber that, after a few months use, tears and becomes unusable. More trash; the plastic bag problem only reduced and delayed. (It will probably help the river pollution problem since there are fewer of them and they’re not so light as to blow anywhere, but that’s not a solution to the plastics-in-environment problem.)

So now, when proffered a freebie bag, I say no unless it’s one of the rare ones made of muslin. They wear harder, could be prepared if need be, and will biodegrade. (The Swiss and British legations have had them at events here in D.C.)

Of course, you could buy or make a muslin, canvas or string bag: what a notion!