Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zippity Doo Dah

It's been a little bit since I posted (thanks for the last entry, Beth! I actually froze some nectarines yesterday and put them in a drink. Mmmm....) and I admit, I've gotten a bit off topic. While the last few entries were cooking-based, and I firmly believe that cooking is one of the best first steps to becoming more aware of the origins of ones food, I think it's time to get serious again.

So on that note, I'm going to talk about bags.

While this blog is food-based, it's really about the externalities associated with the entire food industry, our relationship with the food we eat, and the way in which it makes it's way to our plates. But before it gets to your plate, it has to get to your kitchen. And most food makes the trip in a disposable plastic bag. According to the Wall Street Journal, 100 billion (yes BILLION) plastic bags are thrown away every year in the US. I don't really need to explain why this is a bad thing (12 million barrels of oil, to start).

Awareness of the issue is becoming more widespread, which is good news. In New York City, for example, it's required by law for grocery stores to accept plastic bags for recycling, and sell reusable ones as well. So maybe it's catching on. Habits, however, are very very hard to change. I have purchased several of these nifty little bags and given them to my friends and family, but I know that they tend to sit unused in glove compartments, on counters, and in drawers. Once the habit has been changed, however, it's an empowering feeling to go to the store and refuse "paper or plastic."

Another often-wasted resource is the ubiquitious ziplock bag. In the disposable-bag world in which we live, these are often considered one-use items. But there's absolutely no reason for this to be the case. We buy sturdy freezer bags for storing produce and leftovers in the fridge, and then simply wash them and use them again. The process is simple:

1. Turn it inside out
2. Wash/Rinse
3. Dry

Not only does this save money (probably upwards of $100/yr), but again, plastic is being saved.

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