One thing I did not think about: I have some food items that are open and therefore will have to be used, or will have to be thrown away. This in itself is not necessarily a problem, but the food items are wrapped in non-recyclable packaging. If I don’t use it, I have to throw away the food and the packaging. If I do use it, I have to only throw away the packaging, so the second seems like the less wasteful option. What are we talking about? Strawberries, cheese spread, and bell peppers.
The strawberries came in a plastic box (1:PET), which should be easy to recycle. But it also came with a layer of bubble wrap, which is made from low-density polyethylene (4:LDPE) which could be recycled, but unfortunately it is mixed with adhesives which cannot. The online Dutch ‘how to separate your waste’ advisor indicates that it can be put in the orange box for plastic recycling. Unfortunately our plastic recycling is not fool proof. I plan to write another post today about the Dutch recycling options, where I can address this in a bit more detail. On HowToDoThings there is a fun list of how you could reuse bubble wrap. It is only a small piece, so most of the listed ideas won’t work, but there is one thing I wil try this week: to roll it up as a soft cushion to support my mouse wrist. Yesterday my left hand started to hurt, so I already switched my mouse to the right hand. Let’s see if this helps a bit, and save this bubble wrap from the land fill, even though it may be only temporarily! But that wasn’t all. There was also a piece of plastified paper inside to indicate the brand of the strawberries. As it is a mixed material, it cannot be recycled. Crap. So there it is. My first waste, and I just got started! In my defence, I bought this days ago…
Then there is the cheese spread. This comes in some kind of plastic box mixed with aluminium. There is no ‘this can be recycled’ sign or ‘this is made from this kind of material’ sign anywhere, so again I’m screwed. If I only had not opened it last week! Here is a nice list of recycling/material symbols you can find on packaging in the Netherlands, by the way.
And finally the bell peppers, again bought last week. Normally I buy eco bell peppers that come in biodegradable plastic, but this time the only eco bell peppers in the supermarket looked like they would not last another day. So I went for the less eco option, with plastic packaging. The wrap does not indicate what type of plastic it is. According to the plastic waste advisor I can recycle it, but, as I will write about later, this does not mean it will not end up as waste… As for biodegradable plastic, advise from the Dutch centre for the environment is not to put it with the organic waste, but with the residual waste, where it will provide clean energy during incineration. Surprising, but true!
You could say this is not waste generated by what I do this week, but what I did before… I will just put this waste in my personal waste bag so I can track it, and try to not create any new waste this week.
So a tip if you are thinking about doing this challenge yourself: already prepare the week before so you are not bothered with left-over waste!