Last week I took a test on the Philadelphia Recycling Site and I was surprised to find out that these things aren’t recyclable. I had no idea!
Now, I have to say (and excuse me for giving myself a little pat on the back here) I rarely use any of these items.
Apparently the fibers in paper napkins and paper towels are too short to be able to properly go through the recycling process so they should just be trashed.
I only use paper napkins when I have a party. Paper towels are only used when I have to dry raw poultry or meat before prepping it for cooking.
Since I use a composting service, those items can be put into my compost. If you don’t use a composting service it’s hard to get these things to break down in a home compost pile, and if you have paper towels with poultry or meat on it you don’t want to put that into a home compost pile for sure!
These other two items are really an issue since they are neither recyclable or compostable: the to-go coffee cup and freezer food packaged in boxes. Both are lined with wax, both cannot be recycled.
I rarely get coffee or tea out – usually only on trips, and in the past year I’ve remembered more often than not to bring my travel mug with me (giving myself another pat here). But I often have friends come over who have just stopped at the local coffee shop and come in with coffee or tea in one of these cups. Everyone knows they better not bring a plastic water bottle into my house – I’m such a pain in the ass. But now I guess I’m going to be a pain in the ass about the to-go cups. Especially for my staff of assistants and interns. They are coming here to learn so I get to play the little eco – teacher/dictator (and they do love me – at least I like to think they do, they keep coming back). And maybe my friends are going to be getting travel mugs for the holidays. I can see them rolling their eyes and humoring me as I write this – they’ve already gotten bamboo travel utensils from To-Go Ware. They said they wanted it. Really, they did!
Ok – so here goes:
I have some lovely organic cloth napkins that I use all the time. Umm – they do wrinkle, but no one, especially me, seems to mind. I’m definitely not spending time ironing cloth napkins! Not when there’s gardening, or knitting, or blogging or anything else other than ironing that needs to be done~
I save my old tea towels (ie: dish towels) and use them for rags to clean up messy spills then pop them into the wash with the rest of my towels.
If you’re anything like me you may need to have several of these. I have to keep a few in my car since I sometimes forget to bring them with me when I go out.
I’m getting better though. It takes time to build new habits. I used to forget my reusable bags, now it’s second nature. Bringing travel mugs with me is also becoming second nature.
Most of us need to have something tucked away in the freezer for a quick meal sometimes. Try cooking dishes in bulk at home that you can put in the freezer in a reusable container. Much, much better nutrition for you; much, much better for our environment.
(ps – frozen waffles are just gross. if I want a waffle it’s going to be the real thing!)
It’s all about walkin’ the talk. Get yourself a-walkin’!