My vision of a plastic-free, zero-waste world is not a singles club. No, I'm not discriminating against uncoupled people. But I am a bigot when it comes to the three categories of single-use products, all of which have been featured on the new Facebook Plastic Crap Wall of Shame lately, another kind of club where fans can upload links and photos of the worst, unnecessary plastic they can find. The Wall is a place to vent and also a way to create awareness of the problem of plastic waste. Once participants start looking for the stuff, they find themselves noticing it everywhere.
I've written extensively about the first two kinds of singles, but the third might surprise you.
1) Single-Use Disposables
Think plastic drink cups and cup lids, plastic food containers, plastic straws, plastic packing materials, blister packs and clamshells. In addition, there are other ridiculous disposable items, such as plastic bags for umbrellas (Can you say “mold?”)
or garbage bags for shoes.
These are items that are used once and thrown away, or recycled in rare cases.
Several zero-waste bloggers have campaigns to reduce our consumption of single-use disposables. Lisa Borden’s Take Out Without Campaign urges people to bring their own reusble utensils, containers, mugs, and water bottles to take out and fast food restaurant and cafes.
And Taina Uitto’s ReFuse challenge asks participants to upload photos of single-use plastic items they refused for inclusion in her ongoing slideshow.
2) Single-Serving Sizes
The smaller the size, the higher the packaging-to-product ratio. Examples include wine in individually-packaged glasses, single-serve juice boxes, and yogurt cups.
Some of the worst offenders are individually-wrapped prunes or jelly beans.
There are even individually-packaged ice cubes! No kidding.
But how many of us think of the third category of singles?
3) Single-Purpose Items
Across America, kitchen drawers are stuffed full of gadgets that serve one purpose and one purpose only, like saving a single piece of fruit or vegetable, for example. Linda Anderson, who writes the blog Citizen Green nominated these plastic produce savers for her monthly Stupid Plastic Crap post. Examples she cites are the tomato saver (holds one tomato) or the onion saver (holding one onion).
This category also includes the avocado saver,
the banana saver,
and products like the plastic lettuce knife, which is unnecessary since lettuce can simply be torn with the hands, and the Butter Boy, a plastic gadget meant solely for buttering corn!
Erin Dooland from the web site Unclutter writes a weekly segment called Unitasker Wednesday, in which she highlights the worst of single-purpose gadgets that not only waste resources but simply clutter up our lives. Among the gems she has found are the mayo knife spreader, the potato chip finger, the watermelon cooler, and my personal favorite, the Krustbuster: a hunk of plastic created specifically for taking the crust off slices of bread. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME? If you must waste perfectly good food, at least do it with a KNIFE!
BlogHer's Melissa Ford has just posted a list of the unitasking appliances in her home and how she decided which machines would stay and which would go. While her list doesn't include the cheap plastic crap I've described above, it does provide a process for deciding what items are truly useful and which ones are simply clutter.
What examples of unnecessary single-use, single-serving, or single-purpose items have you found? And is there another singles category I’m missing? Now it's your turn to rant. Posting to the Plastic Crap Wall can make you feel better in the short-term, but following up with calls or letters to the companies that produce the stuff is even more important.
Umbrella bag. Photo by Jennifer Lawlor.
Fill Your Stomach. Not the Landfill. Photo by Lisa Borden, Take Out Without Campaign
Refused! card. Photo by Manuel Maqueda, Plastic Pollution Coalition.
Butter Boy. Photo by Lisa Sharp, Retro Housewife Goes Green.
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