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Posts Tagged ‘Styrofoam’

Right now, Speaker Christine C. Quinn is New York City's "Green" Champion. I wonder if she knows where to buy organic chicken sans the Styrofoam.

Let’s start with the good news.  Last month The City Council approved a bunch of bills that will finally overhaul NYC recycling laws. This legislation, which has been bouncing around all Spring,  will be the first major change to New York City recycling since 1989.

The new law will mean that finally all hard plastics will be recycled by the city. For New Yorker’s like me, it means we won’t have to be traipsing our #1 and #3 plastic garbage to other states or our#5 plastic to Whole Food. It also means that  they’re going to put more recycling bins in schools and public areas and allow residents to recycle hazardous waste like paint. (via New York Times Green Blog)

According to Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who’s been instrumental in pushing this bill through:


“Our legislation will divert over 8,000 tons of plastic every year away from landfills and incinerators.  That’s equal to the amount of trash produced by nearly 10,000 people each year.”

I first heard about this on the radio a few weeks ago. And I’m completely psyched about this. But can somebody tell me why I can’t buy an organic or at least humanely raised chicken that’s not packed in Styrofoam? Oh, yes, the Whole Foods saga continues.

I know that lots of people will say, just stop going to the grocery store. But the thing is, Whole Foods in Connecticut sells their chickens on recycled paper trays. So why not New York.

So I wondered, maybe the 59 th street Whole Foods was an anomaly. I called the Tribeca store and talked to Jeanette in customer service . Unfortunately, she told me that yes, the store in Tribeca uses Styrofoam trays.

“Are you allergic to Styrofoam?” she asked me.

“No,” I told her, “I”m just committed to not buying Styrofoam.”

Nobody’s surprised. She also agreed that it was against Whole Food’s corporate identity to use Styrofoam and promised me that she’d check and see if other NYC Whole Foods used Styrofoam. She never got back to me.

So yesterday, I ran to Fairways on 125th street. I’d had a good experience getting chicken in a paper wrapper on 72nd street, but 125th street was a bust. First of all I had to explain what I wanted in Spanish — which was tricky. (And no, I don’t know the word for Styrofoam in Spanish.) But the woman behind the butcher counter pretty much understood what I wanted. (She of course tried to take the chicken wrapped in Styrofoam and rewrap it). There was a chance they had more Organic chickens upstairs, but I ran out of patience and didn’t want to wait while they checked on the third floor.

I went to buy grass-fed beef instead, but the London Broil were imported from Australia. I’ve pretty much sworn off eating meat from other hemispheres let alone other states. Needless to say, I left Fairways with no dinner. (Maybe the universe wants me to go Vegan — I’m sure that’s what my cousin Donna will say.)

As I checked out, the man bagging my grass-fed milk was a bordering middle aged white guy wearing a tie — he was atypical for the average Fairway’s  grocery bagger.

“Are you a manager?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“I just wanted you to know,” I told him, “I couldn’t buy any of your meeat or chicken because it was packed in styrofoam.”

“Are you allergic to Styrofoam?” he also asked. (Is there a big styrofoam allergy epidemic I don’t know about?)

“No,” I said, “I’m committed not to making garbage.”

The cashier, a large black teenager nodded. I could tell he completely agreed with me.

The manager guy didn’t dismiss me. He listened thoughtfully to what I said.

“I’ll raise your concerns,” he told me. And, you know something, I believe him.

Note: Several months ago I asked the Cornucopia Institute to check and see if Fairway’s Milk was legit. I also emailed Fairway’s to ask where they sourced their milk from, to see how local it was. I never got a response on either front. I need to dig around a bit more. Unless somebody else out there knows more.

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Friday we had champagne at a team lunch meeting to celebrate the launch of a website. After everyone left, I gathered up the cork and the metal casings that held the champagne cork onto the bottle and packed them up to recycle at home. I also washed out the plastic champagne glasses. My work friends are getting used to me gathering up their garbage, but nobody is quite sure where my limits are: “You’re not going to keep the pizza box?” K said. I didn’t. That could be recycled at work with paper.

I’m not exactly sure where my limits are. Friday night, we were at a Oneg Shabbat at temple. The dessert was served on a plastic plates. When Blaise went to get clumps of grapes I told him  to put down the plate.

“How come you can have a plastic plate and he can’t?” S asked.

My plate was covered with the greasy left overs from my third helping of baked brie.

“Grapes don’t need a plate. He’s going to eat them with his hands anyway.”

While S weighed my answer, M chuckled to herself when I stopped Zane from taking a plastic plate and had almost the same conversation with him.

As we were getting ready to leave I gathered up the plastic forks and plates to throw them out.

“You’re not going to keep those too. Are you?” S asked.

“Crap,” I said. I hadn’t thought of it. “Now I have to.”

I took them home, washed them out and will be able to use them again. Not the worst thing in the world. But despite my effort not to buy food that comes in plastic, we are collecting a lot of garbage.

My rule is that if I choose to make garbage, I need to be responsible about taking care of it, and not just toss it into the trash. Problem is, I know have a  whole lot of stuff that  think should be recycled but don’t exactly know how.

Plus, everyone at home is afraid to throw anything away. Blaise, for example went ballistic on the babysitter when she tried to throw out the plastic sleeve from their organic simulations of Oreo cookies. The garbage pile up and driving John crazy. But since I haven’t quite figured out how to recycle the none Number 5 plastic, it’s sitting in bags in my kitchen. (If I wasn’t so tired, I’d take a picture.)

John says to remember that change comes from evolution. It’s these baby steps, these drops in the bucket that will eventually add up.  So I am still going into the garbage can at baseball and digging out the Capri sun pouches. And I’ll set up my TerraCycle recycle bin at work. But it’s hard to keep up the level of enthusiasm. I feel how easy it is to slip back into complacency — and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Meanwhile I have a new item on my to do list —  figure out what to do with my own personal landfill, including my little stack of Styrofoam cups. I didn’t actually buy them, the  babysitter bought them  last year and since we had them in the house, I used them. But now I have a stack of them dirty and I need to figure out how to recycle them.  Tonight I finally checked the manufacturer Dart’s  website only to find that their nearest recycling center is in Michigan. The site directed me to Earth 911. There seem to be other options for recycling my styrofoam as well as all the other grades of plastic. But nothing looks super close or convenient — or even open on the weekends.

If I’m creating this much  garbage despite really serious efforts to make conscious choices not to, what about the rest of America, all those people who are not even thinking about it. There are just so many of us.

And are our efforts making a difference? Or is it really a drop in the bucket? And what about the rest of the world. My babysitter who is from Columbia says that back home no one recycles anything. She says it’s going to be hard for her when she gets back.  How much does the rest of the world recycle?  These are questions I definitely  need to research.

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