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March 15, 2019


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I like to recycle but was surprised when I moved to Florida and found they don't have convenient recycling programs. So disappointed.


Hi Jennifer,

My daughter lived in Miami Beach for five years and I remember the recycling was lacking, especially for the row of townhouses she lived in for some reason. She finally was able to get the city to come and pick up the recycling.

Look on the website of the local government and read about their recycling program. It may list places where you can take items that you can't recycle at the curbside. Some local governments have cut back their curbside program in light of the Chinese government reducing to almost nothing the recycled materials it's willing to take from other counties.


Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

I love your idea of using canning jars instead of plastic containers to store food. I have stopped using plastic water bottles and filter my water using a Brita. Then I put it into a reusable bottle. California charges for grocery bags so most of us bring a reusable shopping bag to the market. I always do. Some coffee shops will fill up your container if it has measuring indicators on it so they know how many ounces it holds. I used cloth diapers when my kids were little and a diaper service. I hated the idea of putting plastic on their butts and in landfills. Now I use the diapers to dust with and then wash them out. They're the best dust cloths.


Hi Rebecca,

I've used canning jars for decades for storing food in my kitchen. It works so great because you never have that problem of trying to find a lid that works.

Good job using reusable water and coffee containers. You really have to think about it before you go out to remember all these things.

I used cloth diapers for my kids, too, because that's what most people were going back then.

Yes, it's awful to put all that plastic in the landfills plus the human waste that might leak into the groundwater.


Tom Sightings

Great advice. There was an article in the NY Times over the wknd pointing out how we're overwhelmed by recycling, and so we're burning it for energy or sending it to landfills. So as you point out, we're down to reduce and reuse, since recycling doesn't seem to work that well anymore.


Hi Tom,

Recycling was working fine when China was taking the plastic recycled. However, China was overwhelmed with plastic -- they were using a large part of it to remake things, but the less usable kinds of plastic and contaminated plastic were polluting the environment there.

The United States was sending its plastic to other countries such as Indonesia, but it's becoming overwhelmed, too.

The problem is there's so much plastic that isn't recyclable -- usually film plastic and the plastic that consumer goods come in -- that's an even bigger problem.

A solution is that the recycled plastic needs to be made into consumer goods here. It's time for lawmakers to take action.



"I buy most of my food at my two local co-op stores. They both have bins of fruit and vegetables. I also buy nuts, rice, flour, baking powder, spices, and many other items in bulk. Bring containers that you can reuse in addition to the supply of plastic bags you’ve saved from earlier purchases." In Oregon because of a change in a state regulation that concerns beer containers ("growlers")it's no longer legal for food co-ops to provide sterilized glass containers for people to use (they sell new glass containers) for any bulk item that requires cooling/refrigeration. Only way around that rule I've found is to use the funnels provided by the co-op. Letters to the OR regulatory agency produced in no response and no change. Nothing like state actions that make it MORE difficult to reduce use of single use plastics (you're not supposed to reuse the free plastic containers for refrigerated bulk items either).

The new regulation doesn't effect the use of glass containers for non-refrigerated bulk items and I agree that co-ops, besides being good organizations, provide ways of reducing use of non-recyclables. My co-op provides a way of recycling styroform and shredded paper which my local exclusive franchise trash pickup business either never did (styrofoam) or no longer does. I have to pay to recycle styrofoam but it's worth it. I have yet to persuade all corporate sellers to stop using styrofoam for packaging.

Be nice if it were possible to get fewer shipped items that include plastic air "pillows", plastic bags, etc. Paper works fine & is recyclable, usually.


Hi azure,

That's interesting about the new regulation in Oregon on banning reusing glass containers for refrigerated items. I wonder what caused the change?

I ran across a Consumer Reports article saying that you shouldn't reuse plastic bags for vegetables and fruits like I suggested in my article. It talked about contamination from meat that has dripped in the plastic bag. I'll need to update my article. What I'm doing now is putting meat separately in a plastic bag, then throwing that bag away. I was putting meat in a separate paper bag, but juices from the meat could leak.


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