In 2013, I posted a blot entry about how the Earth is drowning in plastic, and we should all be willing to do something to help minimize the problem. In my own inimitable way, I decided to start cleaning and reusing both plastic bags and plastic wrap. (See “Drowning in Plastic” of 2013/12/01). Now, five years later, an update is due. What’s happened since I made my decision?
I initially tried to clean and re-use both plastic bags (the Zip-Lock kind) and the Glad Wrap I use occasionally to cover the tops of food containers that don’t have their own top. (As far as bags are concerned, keep in mind I’m talking only about the “zip-lock” type. The “fold-over” type of sandwich bag is a different matter. I’m not using those any more and haven’t used them in years.) At the time I made my decision, both seemed relatively simple to clean. The bags have to be turned inside-out to clean, and I’ve grown accustomed to washing them every now and then. I’ve been doing that for these past five years, and haven’t had any real problems. But the plastic wrap has become a different matter. I started washing each piece, but it soon became clear that washing plastic wrap is neither convenient or simple. The wrap has a mind of its own, and is difficult to keep flat while it is being washed. After about a year, I gave up trying to wash and re-use Glad Wrap. Now I—admittedly and improperly—throw it away. I can’t recycle it because recyclers don’t recycle plastic wrap, and besides, they don’t take plastics with food on it.
But washing and re-using the bags has worked. I have several boxes of plastic bags in my cupboard, and in the five years since I decided to wash out bags, I haven’t bought any new boxes at all. The bags seem to wear well; I rarely throw a bag away. Most bags in my stock have been washed many times—way too many to count. In short, while washing takes a little bit of time, it seems well worth it to do one’s part in helping to minimize plastic waste. Bag manufacturers may not like it, but it is at least something anyone can do.