Drink watch: tea

Setting a benchmark, I suppose. Over the weekend, Hubby and I went shopping in the ‘burbs, including a Turkish grocery where I got a 500g box of loose Ceylon tea — which I like very much — at a good price.

Inside the box, the tea was packaged in a thick, moisture resistant paper, so I assume it was made with a layer or more of plastic. The outer carton was wrapped in a thin layer of crinkly plastic. Total plastic waste weight? 11 grams. But the tea will provide me 200 servings (or so) and everything else is biodegradable.

Tea is the kind of thing that, if I looked, I could get without plastic, but would I? The price is sky-high and I’m never sure of the age or quality. And, if I could check the vendor’s trash, I doubt there’s any real plastic saving. So I’ll call my Turkish buy good enough for now.

And I offset it a bit when we later visited a Halal grocery with cans — rather than refrigerated plastic tubs — of hummus.

Brita fiter campaign successful

Plastic water bottles are a terrible source of plastic waste, so drinking tap water — perhaps filtered — makes sense. Brita has been taking advantage of this new sensitivity with a compelling a: buy our filters and be green.

Beth Terry — she of Fake Plastic Fishled a campaign to get Brita to take back their plastic-cased filters for recycling as they do overseas. And she and her cohorts have succeeded.

Week-old news, perhaps, but continuing evidence that there’s merit in applying pressure on companies to reduce their plastic load on consumers, and other worthwhile changes. Packaging reduction comes to mind, and in particular encouraging computer retailers to swap expanded foam packaging for molded paper fiber (like many egg cartons are made).

Reduced-plastic toothbrush

Was at Greater Goods tonight to get a 1.2kg bag of Charlie’s Soap Powder — for laundry, packed in paper; more about that later — when I saw the German-made Fuchs Ekotec toothbrush (online retailer), which claims to be “economical, ecologically correct”. Which is good, since my toothbrush is looking ragged.

Is the claim vaild? It has plastic-covered blister pack (admittedly over recycled paper) packaging and the brush itself plastic, but is distinguished by having replacable bristles. While $4.75, it did come with a total of three heads — so cheaper than three half-decent brushes — and replacement heads are available. So less plastic overall, which I think puts it ahead of the recycled-plastic (but unrefillable) toothbrushes I’ve seen.

But isn’t there an alternative? Recall that toothbrushes were one of the first commerical products to adopt plastic — nylon specifically — when the boar hair formerly used became unavailable during wartime. And I care about plastic waste, but even if I could find one, I don’t want to brush my teeth with boar bristles.

{Quick Googling} O Lord, you can get them. I think I’m going to be ill, but don’t say I don’t offer an alternative. And it looks like it comes in a plastic case. Priceless.

Bring-your-own-bag experiment

Today I took my own paper bags to Yes! Organic Market — the one in Adams Morgan, on Columbia Road — to see if I could use them in place of the thin plastic bags supplied.

Of course I could. So I got roasted peanuts and quick-cook oats, and they were cheaper than packaged alternatives. Now, the bags — brown lunch sacks, which I had on hand — were packed in plastic, but I can reuse them to a point. (Will eventually look for paper sacks packed in paper! What a no-brainer!)

Amazon.com option means less plastic

WorldChanging reports that Amazon.com has adopted a “Frustration-Free Package” program for some of its products. This means the dreaded, seemingly impenetrable plastic outer packaging has been replaced by easy-to-open cardboard.

Less frustration, less plastic waste. Not many offerings: a few toys, SD cards and computer mice. All, not incidentally, made of plastic. But a big player like Amazon.com can make a significant difference, if the purchases are themselves thoughtful.  Two cheers for now, and worth revisiting.