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Water bottles and shopping bags

8067.00.JPGMuch has been said about the most visible of "green" lifestyle changes, the water bottle, and I thought I'd add my two cents.  I bought about five bottles of water in 2007; if I had to guess, I'd say I bought ten the year before.  Specifically, I thought people at my art opening last July might want to drink water (they preferred the whiskey), and I was pretty much forced into buying a bottle at a crowded take-away place when I asked for a cup of tap water.  Three of these purchased bottles are still in my fridge, unopened.  I started Fix with approximately twenty taking up space on the top shelf: the plastic devils have a way of showing up and hanging around.  It seems like I'm always being handed one on the street, drinking only half at a meeting -- not to mention the several provided every airplane flight.  I take 'em home, drink the contents, fill 'em up with tap water, and repeat.  Over and over, with some washes in there.  When they get funky, I put them in the recycle.  So I think it's really funny when long eco-blog conversations get started about the benefits of one trendy refillable over another.  I read a good one on Brave New Leaf a few weeks ago.  Sure, my bottles will eventually run out - I do refuse them quite often - and then I'll have to choose between the Sigg (pictured), the Klean Kanteen, or the tried-and-true but now vilified Nalgene.  Before I buy one of those, though, I'll give No Impact Man's solution a try: a glass jar with a lid.  Got plenty of those hanging around.

Got plenty of bags for shopping hanging around, too. Paper bags, bodega bags, plastic bags -- they have babies3d661pv9.jpg when I'm not looking, I swear.  The cloth ones are a little less promiscuous, but I still have a ton of them: free totes from benefits, worn messenger bags and backpacks from college, a gigantic beach bag I got as a gift.  I can't imagine actually buying a special bag for shopping, when I have so many taking up precious inches in my apartment.  The plastic bags are the best: they take up virtually no space in the bag I'm already carrying for the day and I can reuse them over and over again.  When they get worn out, I demote them to bags for garbage or compost, but this takes a long time.  I guess my point is, though I'm grateful for how reusable bottles and bags have become visible symbols of personal environmental "action," they are still consumables.  It will take us so long to make our way through the manufactured things already in circulation, I don't see a whole lot of logic in pouring precious resources (oil) into things we already have.                

Posted on Monday, April 7, 2008 at 12:02AM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

Hey there,
I would like to hear more conversations about biodegradable plastic bags.
I too use plastic bags for garbage. Plastic bags from the grocery are a good size for a 1 person household (with a cat).
It's not a perfect solution, but it seems to take into account convenience and reuse. I just wish I felt like the bags were breaking down (when they went to the dump) as best they could.
Thanks for your thoughts, as always.
~ Katy

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

Thanks, Katy! I wish I knew more about biodegradable plastic bags - I will look into it. A quick Google search yielded this article on the science of biodegradable plastic bags, which I found pretty interesting.

The truth is, though, basically NOTHING degrades in our landfills, even the most organic things like food and yard waste. There isn't enough bioaction in there: the landfills get sealed up and closed off and things remain pretty stable. Researchers have found half-eaten apples that are 50 years old in landfills! So these new fancy biodegradables like plates and bags won't be going anywhere, unless we put them in the compost pile.

April 9, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

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