"...for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, March 2, 2009

What Happened To "REDUCE" and "REUSE"?

I was a kid when the real "Re-use, Re-duce and Re-cycle" thing started to go mainstream. I have always tried to follow all three. But I have had a couple of experiences lately that make me think most people don't really care about "Re-use" and "Re-duce".

I have the fabulous shopping bags that Vicki designed and I use them everywhere. If I know I will be buying meat I take plastic bags I already have in the house with me to put the meat in. Thus I am both reducing the number of bags I use, and reusing bags I already have.

At the little grocery store in my town the other day, I could not get the checkout lady to understand that I wanted to use my own bags! She kept trying to put everything into plastic. She finally said "I don't understand why everyone has their own bags nowadays. You can just recycle the ones we give you, so why bother"? I gently but firmly explained the "3 R's" of recycle to her. She still thought it was a waste of time to bring your own bags.

A waste of time? It takes no time at all! I have some in my car all the time. And Vicki's bag folds up and fits in my purse! They are with me always! What is a waste of time is finding a place that will actually take the plastic bags for recycle! I don't know about other places, but you can't just put them out at the curb here.

The other instance is my bank. They started a rewards program with my debit card- you get points every time you use it as a credit card. They send you a "certificate" in the mail, and you put the number into a website. I got my first certificate the other day. I kid you not, the thing they sent me is an 11" x 17" piece of cardstock- to send me a code that's about a 10-point font! I was really mad, and I e-mailed them.

Why can't they e-mail me the code? "That's not secure". Funny- they think the internet is secure enough for me to do my banking on, but they can't send me a 27 digit code via e-mail? I asked if they could find an more environmentally friendly way to mail the code. The response? "Don't worry, the mailer is recycleable". (!?!?!?!?) That seems to be the thing now. If it's recycleable, it's OK.

Trader Joe's actually puts you into a drawing for a gift card- every single time you bring your own bags! I always bring my own coffee cup to Starbucks. If I have a small purchase at a store, I'll just stick it in my purse or carry it. NO BAGS, please!!

Let's put the REDUCE and REUSE back into the mix, folks! Even if it's something you don't want, I bet you can find someone who does. I recently gave a friend several old pairs of jeans that were Hubby's- they had holes and tears in them. I didn't want them, but they weren't good enough to give to charity. She cut the good parts up to make curtains for her son's bedroom!

How cool is that? And it was free for her, and I got rid of something I didn't want, and the good fabric in the jeans didn't get wasted, and it was great!


  1. Where I live now it is nearly impossible to recycle some things that were "single Stream" in my old life. Makes it difficult to realize that the state that was the very first to put a "bounty" on aluminum cans would make it difficult to return them. Cans have to go into a big machine that takes them one-at-a-time and won't take cans that are not sold at that particular store. Unhelpful. Stores do not question bringing your own bag, though, or using bags from another store... good on them for that, at least. Now, let's see if we can get on the dime with plastic recycling! AAARRGH!!!
    Recycling jeans is a good thing to do. I used some to make "floor pillows" for TV watching, etc.

  2. Jenny, I agree with you. Some folks have become lazy. We recycle things here and have special bins only to learn thet council dump it all into landfill anyway. Turns out that our recycling plants were at capacity long ago and they can't compete with imported recycled products from China.

    Vicki's bag is terrific! I'm off to see if the pattern is available. I have been making bags as gifts lately to encourage friends to move away from plastic.

    Cheers...Ann :)

  3. I agree with you, Jenny. Sometimes it just takes some creative thinking and a little extra effort, but usually not much! Thankfully one of our grocery stores encourages recycling bags--you save 5 cents if you bring a reusable or paper bag back! Have you heard of freecycle.com ... it is a great website where people post things they no longer want and are willing to give for free, and others who can use them take them up on it! Or you can ask for things you need too. As you know, we use cloth diapers and wipes on our daughter and I think it saves SOOO much waste, not to mention I'm not constantly putting toxic chemicals on her bum! We have made a lot of changes in our household that some people think are "hard core," but it is a big part of our faith to try to care for the earth in a stewardly manner. But I know we still have a long ways to go yet!!!

  4. Oops, I was wrong, it is actually www.freecycle.org

  5. Here's a fun one - it costs more money, resources, and energy to recycle a plastic grocery bag than to make one!

  6. You need to tell that woman that I have it on the authority of friend who works for a major waste hauler that the whole "recycling of plastic bags" is a lie. They absolutely do not recycle them. Not to mention the OIL that it's made out of. And aren't those mailers the most annoying thing ever! You should see the shipments I get at work. A HUGE box with 2 small batteries in it. Or a pad of paper. It's incredible. Sophie has done the freecycle thing. It's pretty cool. And thanks for the nice comments about my bags!