Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I have been meaning to post about this topic for some time but now is as good a time as any. In the greater Portland [Oregon] area there is a team of Master Recyclers who biannually have a plastic roundup. It is wonderful considering the amount of plastic that our curbside recycling accepts is laughable. This roundup takes in items at four locations twice a year. I mention all of this because this Saturday the 29th from 9am-2pm they are accepting any plastic that has accumulated around your house. At the last event we had a nominal amount to bring because I was reminded of the event by a friend but kept forgetting and so by the date of the roundup I had maybe a small bag to recycle. Even just being there the first time helped me realize not only how much they take but also how much plastic we really do use every day.

It is hard to challenge oneself to use less but it can also be turned into a fun game. Back in March I discovered a horrifying stat counter at the bottom of jumilla bugs blog. The tally was for the number of plastic bags consumed year to date [the link for the stats is quite informative as well]. I was blown away by the visual of the situation. I was only looking at the tally for maybe a minute and the number went up by 100,000 if not more within that time. At that point I vowed to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of bags we used. It was a challenge and at times we got some funny looks like when we would go to home depot and say that we did not want a bag but would instead carry out our loot. Hauling our curtain hangers and hardware out of the home store also got us some looks but it was a great way to push our limits. We do have two amazing two cargo totes that truly come in handy. I know there are thousands of bags out there for just this type of thing but I love ours because I can always fit at least 3-4bags of groceries in each. During the month of April we were able to consume only 7 plastic bags and from the challenge we have both become more aware.

The even taking place this weekend is great and I encourage anyone in Portland to attempt to at least take this weeks plastic in. If you are not living on the eastside of town there is another event happening on October 6th on the westside of town. I encourage those outside of Portland to look into something like this in your area.


Tracy said...

los angeles has just revised their list of plastics accepted for recycling (about time!). but of course our own reduction in their usage is the best way. those totes look awesome!

Rachel said...

Hey, can I send some of our plastic home with you tomorrow?! :) Thanks for the info, I'll mark the dates and be sure to save all the spinich containers from Costco . . .

kevstephb said...

Have you let someone at Imago Dei know about this? They might even list something in the bulletin or the website. BTW: it was good to meet you on Sunday: Stephanie Breuner

Rachel said...

That is so awesome that you used so few plastic bags last month! We are still in the transition stage over here...you know, forgetting the tote bag, blah blah excuses. Have you gotten the "oh, we have to bag this item" stuff yet? It is so bizarre!

grace said...

I'm glad you are posting about this. We too have been trying to consume less plastics and I refuse bags whenever I shop. People really do look at you as if you had 3 heads. I've even had department store employees try to force me to take bags. Saying its store policy. Right.
But I say march on soldier, march on.

Sarah said...

You have inspired us. I just started our non-weekly plastic recycling bin that we will take to the next plastic roundup. I'm also vowing to start living a plastic bag free life. I'm always thinking about it but when life gets busy and crazy I get sooo lazy.

Sparky Firepants said...

Master Recyclers, one more thing to love abut Portland.

Sometimes I find that even the grocery stores that give credit for bringing our own canvas bags look at us funny when we use them.

My son and I were at Whole Foods yesterday and the cashier asked, "Do you need parking validation?" When I said "no thanks" she looked at our full heavy bags and asked if we hadn't driven? How are we going to get that stuff home?

Hey, lady, look. We've got six bags, four shoulders, and four hands between us. We don't need no steenking car!

OK, that was a slight digression, but my point is that it was fun to show off our environmentally-friendly practice of walking to the store and using our own bags.

Now I have to go. My shoulders are killing me.

Great post!