This week I seemed to be pondering a lot about packaging.  First, I tackled the toothpaste tube dilemma.  Although I am still loving my home-made deodorant (my boyfriend uses it now, too) I chose to forgo a toothpaste-making effort.  Putting baking soda and coconut oil under my arms is one thing; taking on cavities with what I have in my kitchen is an entirely different game.  I really don’t want to do the experiments to see if it works or not.  After a little research I discovered that good ‘ole Tom’s of Maine toothpaste tubes are made out of aluminum, which can be recycled just like aluminum cans, and I had a brand new tube in my cabinet.  Perfect!

Aluminum toothpaste tube

While writing this post, however, I discovered a Tom’s of Maine website page that explained how this year they are switching to plastic laminate tubes.  Although my heart sank when I read that they, too, would be creating more plastic, I appreciated their arguments which you can read on their website.   They also offer to take back the empty tubes which they will then put into their recycling stream in the event that local recycling facilities won’t take them, which I am sure will be the case here in Hawaii.  Although one of my rules with my trash-free-year is that I can’t send anything away, I may have to make an exception if I end up buying one of their plastic tubes.  So, I will finish this aluminum tube and revisit the issue again down the road.   I am curious if my local Reynold’s Recycling will take this aluminum tube when I am finished with it. They take other scrap metal, even aluminum foil.

Purchasing food without packaging, one of my greatest frustrations, saw a little success this week.  Although I have been able to find bulk replacements for milk, grains, snacks and even honey,  I have stopped purchasing many former staples like cheese and meat.  Of course, many supermarkets also have delis and butchers which I am just beginning to research in hopes of finding cooperative folks who will let me use my own containers. I am hoping that there are a lot of options out there, but for the moment  Whole Foods in Kahala will be getting my business when it comes to purchasing meats.  Not only do they sell local meats, but they had no problem putting my order of chuck roast for a Valentine’s pot roast feast in a reusable container from home that I brought with me to the store.

Bringin' home the beef in my own packaging

I am still in search of a place that will sell me cheese like this.  The cheese at Whole Foods is already cut and wrapped up in plastic.  I know Safeway sells cheese at their deli.  Of course, cost is a big consideration, too.  I won’t be purchasing meat like this very often, but I really miss cheese.

Continuing on the packaging theme, I got another online order in the mail this week.

Is this packaging really necessary?

Luckily, most of it is either reusable (envelope) or compostable (card stock).  I am even going to be able to reuse the molded plastic for watercoloring – it will be perfect for holding paint and covering up for storage.  But really, is all this necessary for cell phone ear buds?  I recently learned about Amazon’s  Certified Frustration-Free Packaging program.  According to their website:

The Certified Frustration-Free Package is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials such as hard plastic clamshell casings, plastic bindings, and wire ties. It’s designed to be opened without the use of a box cutter or knife and will protect your product just as well as traditional packaging.

They work directly with the manufactures so they use Frustration Free packaging with their products.  I will keep this in mind and send them a note about companies that I think could benefit from a change in their packaging paradigms.

One final thought on packaging – toilet paper.  My household of three (myself, my boyfriend, and our roommate) traditionally have bought TP from Costco.  It is really cheap – but very high on the plastic trash scale.  Each roll is wrapped in plastic and placed in a larger plastic wrapping.  Taking a stand in honor of my trash-free-year, I refused to purchase it anymore and started looking for other alternatives.  I can’t imagine that local hotels and businesses buy TP this way.  I did find a company on line, Ever-Green, that sells toilet paper in recycled paper board.  However, I have not found it sold in any stores and would rather not have my TP shipped in from across the sea.  I am still investigating this one.  If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

Compost update:
This is week five of my trash can compost bin and I am finally seeing lots of insects and bugs getting inside to help out and do their important decomposing jobs.  When I picked the trash can up off its bricks to roll it around, I spotted potato bugs frantically crawling inside and even worms left behind on the bricks (I never put worms in my bin…I hope they have found it themselves!).

End of week five

The best part is that even though I keep dumping stuff in, I always have room the next day.  I am predicting one day in the near future it may be difficult to roll because it is so dense.  So far so good, though.  I heart my trash can compost bin.