Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reusable Trumps Recyclable

About 25 years ago, I got hip to the idea that single-use items are extravagantly wasteful. We switched to cloth grocery bags, cloth napkins, cloth handkerchiefs, and washable clean-up rags around that time. We also bought our milk in returnable bottles and tried to limit purchases of items with excessive packaging.

When the babies came, we used cloth diapers, even on international trips. We went through not quite one box of single-use diapers in the course of raising four children.

Recently, I've been looking to see if we can do just a little more. I've brought my own commuter mugs for purchased drinks for years, but decided that I can go the extra mile and bring my own to-go containers, too. I've carried my own cloth handkerchiefs and have just decided that each child can carry a cloth napkin in her backpack.

I've been replacing our old tupperware with glass and metal storage containers at home, and decided to move several old tupperware containers to the car to act as to-go containers.

The new to-go containers debuted at the local natural foods supermarket, where one was used to hold a deli sandwich. Several of the employees were enthusiastic about this, and I expected my family to be similarly happy.

I showed my husband the container I used for the sandwich, and explained the strategy to him. 

“No more wasteful paper sandwich wrappers,” I exulted.

“The paper is recyclable,” he noted.

About an hour later, I thought, “But reusable trumps recyclable!”

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