Watch out, this is a little rant.

Stop using disposable plastic, for crying out loud!

There is a floating garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii the size of Texas.  No lie.

Where did all that plastic garbage come from?  It comes from you and me, folks.

You can never imagine how far and wide the plastic you throw away travels.  And the truth is there is no “away.”  Think your plastic get recycled?  Only about 27% of plastic gets recycled.  The rest gets dumped into landfills or washes into the ocean where it kills fish, sea animals and birds.  Don’t believe me?  There’s a terrific documentary on the topic: WATCH IT.

And if you’re in the media biz, listen up…in this era of YouTube and Vimeo, we have got to stop using DVDs.  It’s estimated that it will take a CD or DVD a MILLION years to decompose in a landfill.  I shudder to think about those hundreds of AOL disks I tossed in the 90’s.  So how do I deliver quicktime movies of projects without burning any DVDs?  I now deliver all video projects on hard drives or flash drives (either mine or the client’s).  I don’t even have DVDs or CD’s in the office anymore.  A link to a Vimeo or YouTube page works great for almost all clients and projects.

So what to do with the DVD’s and CD’s you need to get rid of?  Recycle them!

Google “E-Waste (name of your city or state).”  Find out if there is a recycler that will take them near you.  Often there are Electronic Waste collection days that are scheduled…see if you can find one nearby.  They will take your CDs and DVDs and also your old cell phones, old hard drives, old electronics.  There’s usual a small charge for taking old TVs and old monitors.

If there is no E-Waste collection near you, there are several companies that will recycle E-Waste for you for free or for a low charge if you send it in.  Greendisk is a great company that I have used in the past…I have a box for used CDs and DVDs and old tapes in the studio and I save them up, then once a year I pack them up and ship them Media Mail rate (cheapest slowest postage) to Greendisk, who shreds them and recycles them.  There are other companies.  This one says they will recycle your CDs and DVDs for free.

And what about printer cartridges?  I basically have cut my printing down to the absolute minimum.  If I don’t print, then I don’t use printer ink in a plastic cartridge.  I think I used half the ink this year as last year. Before, I think I was printing a Google map every time I left the house…now I just jot the directions down on a piece of paper using a pencil.  Old school, but it works.  Office Depot takes back old printer cartridges, any brand, and gives you $2 each. 

Perhaps 2012 can be the year of living with less plastic for you.  Here are some other resources:

My favorite reusable bags are ChicoBags.  I get them for $3-$4 bucks, often the grocery stores sell them with their logos on the sides.  They are super strong and fold down to nothing in their own little pouch, so you can always have three or four with you.  I have some that are 5 years old now.

Stop using take out containers.  Get yourself reusable stuff and only shop with folks who will refill your reusable container.  My soup lady at the farmers market is tickled that I bring back my containers every week.  And it saves her money (which she gives to me as a 25 cent discount).  These are the ones I covet.  I think they’re nice enough to whip out in a nice restaurant instead of taking home styrofoam in a plastic bag.  Styrofoam is gross.

Get yourself a stainless steel water bottle and an insulated stainless steel hot/cold beverage container…they sell them everywhere.  If you have a Starbucks habit, buy theirs.  They will give you 10 cents off your drink every time you use your own cup.

The main tip is this:  whatever you think you can’t do without that comes in plastic, see if you can use it half as much, and cut your use in half.  Sharpies are my downfall…great tool that I love for making my post it note boards.  Big nasty piece of disposable plastic.  In researching this article, I did a quick Google search, found out that Sharpie makes a gorgeous Stainless Steel fine point marker!  I just ordered three, plus 10 refills.  No more plastic sharpie purchases for me!  And that’s how it works.