Week 2 – Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge: Why isn’t This Recyclable?

How’s the low waste May Challenge going?  I’m frustrated.  Honestly I’m really frustrated because so much of what I thought was recyclable isn’t recyclable.  Plastic #5 isn’t readily recyclable nationwide and yet IT’S EVERYWHERE!  Yogurt containers and lids, plastic meal prep containers and lids, and probably so much more.  My only option to recycle plastic #5 is to package it all up and mail it to a recycling center.  Then I think “what types of fossil fuel is going into transporting all of these empty plastic containers” and is it worth it?  When I say “worth it” I mean am I still net positive for those efforts. 

If recycling those plastic containers by sending them to a recycling center gives me 10 bananas (because bananas are good) but it costs me 12 bananas to ship them to the recycling center of fossil fuel, then I’m at a negative 2 bananas. 

Then my next beef is with those thin boxes that are part cardboard and part paper but aren’t recyclable either.  Plastic is bad.  But isn’t killing trees to make a little box and not being able to recycle is just as bad?

Fine.  I do some research and find earth911.com.  FANTASTIC!  Earth911.com tells me the closest place that recycles all of these things.  It’s at a lake community about 45 minutes away that claims it will recycle these items for the whole county but they don’t have any drop off options.  You can only recycle at this lake community if you know someone that lives there because their recycling program is for residential pick up only. 

What would you do with these non-recyclable plastic and paper items? 

I’m really at a loss and I’m frustrated.  I’m frustrated because I thought the BMM household was doing better.  We aren’t.  I’m frustrated from the greenwashing on commercials because I can’t actually recycle this stuff that they sell.  I’m frustrated that plastic has become so mainstream.  I’m frustrated because my area doesn’t have bulk bins for our staples because they only have candy in bulk bins. 

ItemDid I Previously Recycle It?Is it Actually Recyclable?
Plastic Yogurt ContainerYes No
Orange Juice ContainerYes Yes
Baby Spinach ContainerYes Yes
Butter BoxYes No
Rice BoxYes No
Plastic Bag Packaging (Various Items)No Not all the time
Toilet Paper RollYes No
Plastic Dish BrushYes I don’t know
Glass Cranberry Juice ContainerYes Yes
Plastic Clasp to Potato BagYes I don’t know

Where does this leave the BMM household for the Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge? Maybe I just need to accept the fact that the pretty zero waste pictures just aren’t within our reach right now. Or I can try a new approach that I’m learning about in the One Small Step Can Change your Life by Dr. Robert Mauerer, Ph.D.. Dr. Maurer outlines the Kaizen approach to making one small change. The change is so micro that your reptile part of your brain, I call it “Let’s Yell FIRE!” right now in the middle of the grocery store because everything has plastic brain, doesn’t even notice the change.

After mulling over this idea, I realized that one of the easiest things for me to do it to say no to plastic bags completely. Simple. I have a cloth bag that goes in my crossbody bag if I find that I’m without my usual reusable bags I have a backup. I also have the option of skipping the trip or simply carrying all of my items out to my car. But the one area that I can’t refuse plastic bags is through curb side grocery pick up. Wouldn’t it be nice for grocery stores to give you the option of plastic bags?

I’m a huge proponent of giving people options. Usually an option comes with far less resistance than a mandate. I’m going to start an Instagram petition/post asking Wal-Mart to give curb side grocery delivery the option to opt out of plastic bags. Honestly sometimes a lone lemon has its own plastic bag which is completely ridiculous. Want to join me or have an idea on how to make this suggestion louder? Comment below and check out the Beautiful Minimal Millennial Instagram post asking for Walmart to give me the option to go bag-less.


Week 1 – Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge: What Is Actually Recyclable?

Why Online Grocery Shopping Works for Me

May 2021 Experiment Inspired by Earth Day


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2 thoughts on “Week 2 – Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge: Why isn’t This Recyclable?

  1. The inconsistency between recycling programs in different municipalities is so frustrating. I love your approach to focusing on one area at a time. Plastic bags are a great place to start. Sobey’s, one of Canada’s largest grocery chains has switched to paper bags from plastic. One of our other large chains, Loblaws, is revisiting packaging on its products. This all came about from consumers putting pressure on them to do better. We all need to be more vocal!

    Liked by 1 person

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