Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Bertha Leone’s zero waste challenge in her December Sandpiper sustainability article threw me into a conundrum of figuring out how to get along without plastic when grocery shopping. Previously, I had thought that bringing my reusable shopping bag was all there was to it. Wrong!
The first step was easy: Rather than my automatic move to pull a bag from the plastic roller at the vegetable bins, I would just reuse the bags from my last trip. This may seem obvious, but I must admit that it never occurred to me that I was adding to my pollution footprint. Then I realized there was no bin for dried cranberries, one of the most frequently depleted items in my house. That led me to seek out a grocery store that carried bulk items, not only for dried cranberries, but also for nuts that I had previously purchased pre-packaged in plastic containers. I decided to bring more plastic bags from home to reuse, until I could think of another solution.
My most recent epiphany had to do with purchasing packaged meat. Now I decided to get the meat directly from the butcher’s counter wrapped in paper. This minor shift in behavior created an opportunity for a friendly interaction with a human being while helping me to meet Bertha’s challenge.
As I was standing at the meat counter, I glanced over to the adjacent sushi section, another one of our favorite pick-ups. How will I manage to purchase a pack of sushi rolls without the plastic container and packet of soy sauce? That question, along with my quandary about the plastic wrap around the New York Times that arrives every day, is still on my list of challenges to resolve. But the journey is kind of fun and I am lessening my footprint a bit.
I called Bertha to share with her my epiphanies and challenges from the original article. This raised the idea that it would fun and helpful to engage the community in a “zero waste” discussion by soliciting ideas from Sandpiper readers as to how they have lessened their footprint. Many of you have things you’ve tried and use regularly that you could recommend.
For example, here is a suggestion from Dolores Davies Jamison, SAB member: I always dislike buying large plastic tubs of laundry detergent. The plastic is bad for the environment and usually the detergent is not eco-friendly. A few years ago, I was researching alternatives and found out about these “soapberries” or “soap nuts” that grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi, a tree in Africa. They are organic, economical, zero waste, and there is no negative environmental impact. www.NaturOli.com and www.SoapNuts.pro
We’d like to hear your suggestions and questions on how you are moving toward zero waste. We’ll include comments and recommendations from members of our Sustainability Advisory Board.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Stay tuned for a continued conversation in subsequent Sandpiper issues.