Friday, August 12, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday Links

My most recent ranting has been about biodegradable plastics - if you work with me then you know that I have been on a mission to do something about all of the biodegradable plastic cups that we offer around the store for quick sips of water. Without going too much into it, I think it's important to note that (at least for the biodegradable cups and plates) sometimes biodegradable might not be that much better than plastic that is made from post consumer recycled product and easily recyclable (and actually recycled). One of the biggest reasons that I feel this way is because it is actually not super easy to compost this stuff. If any of you have ever tried to toss a biodegradable plastic cup into your home compost, then you know that it doesn't go anywhere very quickly. What I have learned is that those things are designed to break down in a very specific kind of composting environment, and ideally all of the cups should be sent to one of those facilities for them to biodegrade properly. Also, most biodegradable plastic (from what I have seen) is a #7 plastic, which is the most difficult to recycle. And lastly, to make things worse, if one of these cups makes their way into the landfill, you might think that at least it will break down while none of that other plastic will be going anywhere for at least 1000 years... and while you are right, there is a downside to that: the biodegradable plastics are breaking down quick enough but they are also in an oxygen-free environment, which means that they will emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

If you are interested in reading a little more about this, check out this article.

And more on an interesting and thought provoking point of view about plastic can be checked out here.

Do you have kids that will need any supplies for school this fall? Then please, pretty please, check out the back to school guide to PVC free school supplies.

And lastly, just for a little fun, check out these awesome salvaged shipping container market - has anyone seen this in real life?? Tell me about it!


  1. Questions: I have 4 cats and litter is a necessity. Would you buy clumping (use less litter) or pine litter and waste more? I found that you can use horse bedding for 5$ for a huge bag versus buying in the grocery store. Both options come in a plastic container. Is it better to buy beverages in plastic versus glass bottles if I am to recycle both?

  2. You have 4 cats? I didn't even know that... ok, so this is an excellent question, especially because I am asking the same question about cat littler.
    So at first, we were putting the little in recycled plastic bags and throwing them in with the small amount of trash that we had... but it was getting stinky since we only take our trash out every 4-6 weeks. After that, I told E that we would scoop the cat poop and go throw it in the woods. This is where we are at now, but I was thinking that with the right cat litter, we could just compost the cat litter when it needed to be changed. I decided to look into it and came across a few links that might interest you (I will be following up with them myself):

    As for the beverage containers - I'm going to say that glass will always be the better option. Glass is much more likely to be recycled and broken down and turned back into more glass - especially if it is redeemable. With plastic there isn't always a guarantee that it will turn back into more plastic. Glass also has an easier job breaking down and going back into the earth. Plastic however... well, it will break down but it will never go anywhere.
    But my favorite part of choosing glass bottles is finding creative ways to reuse them for something else. I got kind of into a certain packaged iced tea that came in glass for a little bit, so I had a bunch of those bottles lying around... you can reuse them as water bottles about having to worry about plastic leeching, but you can also use them for bulk buying. They are perfect for things like maple syrup and oil, but I've also been know to put rice and coconut in them.

    Hope that helps!