plastic bags

Patience

If you know me personally, patient most likely wouldn’t be your adjective of choice to describe me.

But I have been thinking lately about patience and that is mostly because I started a new job that I am very very excited about. I graduated 6 years ago and I have been through 4 jobs since then. Some were good and some were not, but I continued to search, to network, and to interview.

I got rejected A LOT. Since 2012, I have applied for 393 jobs and received 60 first-round interviews. That is a success rate of 15%. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I had to be patient. It was worth the wait.

Patience is also an important trait when dealing with any environmental/waste/green tasks. Our society has pushed instant gratification on us. We use something once and then throw it out. We want something new, we buy it right now and get it shipped to our door the next day.

It seems counterintuitive to go against this, and harder, more difficult, and inconvenient, but it makes a bigger impact.

Take an extra two seconds and collect your kitchen scraps for a compost service.

compost bin

Search secondhand services for exactly what you are looking for and sell your items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and ThredUp. Or donate your stuff.

thredup

Fix up what you already have whether it is a chair, jeans, or your dress pants,

alterations

Collect personal care products and plastic bags, save your beyond repair clothing, take in your running shoes to be recycled, and return wire hangers from the cleaners.

credo dropoff1

Grow your own vegetables or join a CSA.

Plants 2

Shave with a safety razor.

safetyrazor4

Take action on things you don’t want like junk mail, mail not addressed you and solicitations.

Old tenant's mail

Choose the slower shipping option.

All of these things take TIME, but I value the outcome more than the time it takes to bring my plastic bags back to the grocery store.

It takes patience to do these things instead of just throwing stuff into the trash can. Sure, that is easier and sure, that is faster.

But properly taking care of what comes in and out of your life is worth the wait.

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The Oops Tag

I have been “recycling” in Chicago for over two years now and the other day finally saw something I had only heard of on the internet…

The Oops Tag.

recycling8

First of all, I say recycling in quotes because I do not fully believe that even half of what I have diligently cleaned and separated makes it to a recycling facility.

But anyway, these oops tags were rolled out by the Department of Streets and Sanitation last summer in an effort to educate Chicagoans about what can and cannot go in the blue bin.

The tag is supposed to be marked with what contaminant was found in the blue bin but looks like that did not happen in the above case.

recycling9

These blue bins were obviously not mine, but of a neighbor’s down the street. I noticed the tags as I walked through the alley, but I did not snoop in the bins to see what the issue was to warrant the tags.

While Chicago’s recycling rate is the pits, I am not sure these tags will do much to combat that. Now that I live in a building with an alley, people’s blue bins are much more accessible and people toss stuff in other people’s bins all the time. So controlling what happens in your bin is kind of difficult.

 

Nope, Plastic Bags Don’t Go in the Recycling Bin

As I have stated before, Chicago has an issue with recycling. We aren’t good at following directions.

Previously, we were allowed to put plastic bags into our blue carts, but last year the City changed its tune. And for good reason.

Plastic bags wreak havoc on the recycling center’s equipment. See for yourself.

The employees have to stop the work they are doing to go inside the machine and cut the plastic bags out, sometimes more than 3 times a day. What a waste of time and money!

I have been fully aware of this change and why we can’t recycle them in our blue cart, so I often share this information with those who still aren’t aware (this includes my grandmother and K).

Inside my apartment, I store my recyclables in a bin and then transfer them to the cart, eliminating the need for a plastic bag as a go-between. The plastic bags we do end up accumulating sit under the sink until I bring them to a grocery store that has plastic bag recycling.

If you didn’t know why Chicago can’t put their Walgreens bags in their blue carts, now you know!

 

 

Just Say No…To the Free Goodies at the Dentist

I went to the dentist yesterday and as I was making my way there, I kept thinking about the plastic bag of “goodies” they give out to all their patients. Usually this involves a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and special floss for those with permanent retainers, all in a nice plastic bag. There may even be some coupons in there.

toothbrush

So after my cleaning, the dental hygienist started to pack up my “goodie bag,” and I quickly stopped her with some combination of the following arguments:

  • No, I do not need another toothbrush. We have approximately 5,000 in our bathroom cabinet from you guys already. Also my mom shops at Costco, and I am going to invest in a bamboo toothbrush anyway.
  • Toothbrushes are extremely difficult to recycle. Every single toothbrush I have ever used is sitting in a landfill! If I replaced my toothbrush every 3 months like the dentist recommends, that means I would have tossed 104 toothbrushes into the trash in my lifetime.
  • No, I don’t want tiny toothpaste. As with the toothbrushes, we have approximately 5,000 of them already.
  • I only want the floss if it is the good kind. If it is not, put it back in the drawer.
  • I also do not need your dentist-themed plastic bag, I will just toss my floss in my purse and I am good to go.

To accumulate less stuff, we have to learn the art of refusal and saying no to things we do not want pretty much anywhere we go.

***Cover photo credit: Greenpeace

My Favorites: LL Bean Canvas Tote

When I lived in DC, I did not have a car. Anywhere I went was on foot, bicycle, Metro, or

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Rolling Around DC on Capital Bike Share

bus. Since I knew I was going to be walking a couple blocks to the grocery store every week, I needed a good sturdy bag to haul my goodies home.

This is where my LL Bean tote comes in. It’s seriously the best bag ever and I love it more than any human being should love a bag used for groceries. It always fit everything!

My tote was so sturdy, I never worried about the bag ripping and the zippered top was helpful on windy days when receipts could go flying across the street. I will definitely have that bag for the rest of my life!

I took it with me on weekly trips to Safeway and monthly trips across the District via bus to Trader Joe’s. I needed this bag not only because I walked/bused, but because DC had banned plastic bags!

My tote helped me limit my purchasing because I knew it had to fit in that bag in order for me to get it home. Most of the time I could fit an entire weeks worth in it, except for the time I thought it was a good idea to buy a large pumpkin for Halloween. Seeing me struggle down the street with my bag of groceries, a gallon of milk, and a big ol’ pumpkin, what a sight!

(Side note: due to lack of car, I have carried a number of odd items down the street and on the metro. That includes an IKEA Lack coffee table, end table, and a chair. I am strangely proud of this.)

Anyway, if you are in the market for a durable bag for your groceries, I highly suggest a canvas tote from LL Bean. It is guaranteed to last.

Besides LL Bean, what is the best way to carry your groceries around town when using alternative forms of transportation?