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It’s been a recycling/reducing kind of week, so it’s only fitting that I am dedicating today’s Favorite Things Friday to cool products and companies that can help us reduce waste, improve recycling rates, and reduce the amount of plastic in our world. What do you think? Willing to give them a try?

Ecologic packaging. I have at least seven drinks in my fridge right now. Two cartons of orange juice, a carton of milk, a bottle of pomegranate juice, a bottle of apple juice, and a carton of strawberry banana juice. The cartons are all the traditional type: paper sheathed between two layers of plastic. They can’t go into a typical recycling bin because they need to be processed differently. The closest recycling center that can handle these cartons is 25 miles from my house. Bah. (Want to see if you’ve got a recycling option for your cartons? Go to the Earth911.com searchable database and enter ‘milk carton,’ and press Search.) This is why I was pretty jazzed when I saw Ecologic‘s fix: Packaging that can be separated into cardboard and plastic components. You can compost or recycle the cardboard, and stick the plastic pouch right into your regular recycling bin. Today, only one company — Straus Family Creamery based in California — is trying out the packaging, which can be found at the Oakland, Calif.-based Whole Foods. But at least there’s hope!

Reusable produce bags. Bet you don’t even think about how many bags you use in the produce aisle. You pick up some oranges. Maybe a bunch of broccoli, some sweet potatoes, and a bunch of apples. Each item goes into its own crappy bag that takes forever to open. Before you know it you’ve got ten flimsy, one-use plastic bags sitting in your cart. Their next stop: a landfill or, even worse, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We’re all so good about using our own grocery bags, right? Now it’s time to make another change. There are eight different reusable produce bags for purchase at Reusablebags.com. Before you grumble about spending money on these, take note: They have nice drawstrings so your fruit won’t go rolling all over the place. They are made of polyester so they can be washed. Heck, you can even wash your produce right in the bags so you don’t have to worry about them rolling all over a dirty sink. Totally worth it in the end.

Reusable Takeout Containers. On Thursday we went out to dinner. We were there for about 30 minute when Little Girl said she had to go potty, so we ran to the bathroom. (She’s in underwear now, so we ran fast.) Unfortunately, Little Girl, seeing the restaurant’s tiny bathroom with its big toilet got scared. We went back and forth to that bathroom three times before she said, “Mama, poop, HOME!” Sigh. I asked her to hold it, and we went back to the table. I asked the waitress for a check. My husband swooped over and asked if she could wrap Big Girl’s uneaten meal. Damage to the environment: One aluminum tin, one plastic cover, one plastic bag. Uggg. Tonight I came home and ordered Tupperware’s FlatOut set, which squish down into nothingness flat enough to stick in my purse. I intend on bringing them to the deli when I order salads, too. Yes, I read the review that said they are tough to clean, but so what? That’s what soaking is for. Rubbermaid also makes a BPA-free version called Collapsibles, but I could only find them on Amazon.com — not the actual Rubbermaid site.

Reusable Coffee Cups. When I have the occasion to go into the city and visit editors and clients I take the Long Island Railroad. People coming off the train throw out two things: Newspapers and used coffee cups. With almost all of the major coffee peddlers (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and 7-11 to name a few) willing to fill up your favorite cup with some Joe, doesn’t it make sense to skip the paper and Styrofoam? Even once or twice a week? I love, love, love the “I am not a paper cup” thermal porcelain mug, (although from the reviews it doesn’t look so hot) but really any one will do.

Coming next week: Two great give-aways and some more parenting angst, I’m sure. But in the meantime, relax, recycle, and enjoy your weekend.

2 Responses to “Favorite Things Friday: Waste, Diverted”

  1. Oh, I love the thermal porcelain cup, I have to see if I can get one here. Dubai is still in its infancy when it comes to recycling – they do take paper, glass and plastic, but there is a big debate going on as to whether local recycling companies are actually recycling the waste or simply dumping it because they simply cannot cope with the amount they are collecting. No official confirmation of either.
    But for sure we do not have a place to recycle styrofoam here as yet, but plenty of Costas and Starbucks…not good.

  2. Christina Le Beau says:

    I started using cloth produce bags in the fall and love them. I also use them for bulk items like nuts and grains. And here’s another idea for taking home restaurant leftovers: If you don’t want to buy new containers, just use some you already have, like old takeout containers. I keep a bag of them in my trunk.

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