Incredible Bulk

Posted: August 3, 2012 by osakom in Week 2: Reflections + Social Sustainability
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It’s been a week since I have made my personal sustainability promise. In this past week alone, I’ve gone to the grocery store twice. On Sunday night, my girlfriends and I made a spontaneous trip to Fred Meyers to go get candy for our movie night. Instead of going to the candy isle, we went to the bulk section and purchased our favorites, dark chocolate covered almonds and yogurt covered pretzels. When I went grocery shopping to Fred Meyers on Wednesday, I brought the plastic bags that we got the candies in with me, and bought some almonds and granola from the natural bulk section. I wanted to buy vegetables as well, but I decided to wait on that until this weekend and buy them at the farmers market.

I find my PSP to be relatively easy. Besides the spontaneous trips to the grocery store, I usually remember to bring the plastic bags and my grocery bag with me. I think the hardest part about it is successfully making it to the farmers market on the weekend before they close.  I’m not used to going there, so I forget that they close at 1pm, and it doesn’t help that I sleep in till noon-ish on weekends. Since my PSP has not been too challenging, I’ve been trying to find other changes I can make to reduce waste. For example, whenever I bring baby carrots to class with me, I’ve been putting them in a plastic container, instead of a zip lock bag, which ends up being thrown away after one time use. I’ve gone out to eat dinner several times but I made sure to eat at the restaurant instead of getting it to-go. This short clip has some useful tips on how to reduce waste at home.

I think the biggest change that I’ve made to reduce plastic waste was purchasing popcorn kernel in bulk. I’m a big popcorn lover and I used to get individually packaged popcorn bags in boxes. Every time I popped a bag, I threw away the bag, plastic wrap, and the box that the bags came in. Although tedious, popping my own popcorn has allowed me to reduce plastic and paper waste. Not only that, but I can control how much oil and sodium goes in it! No more Pop-Secret for me!

Once I make it to the farmers market and buy produce from there, I’ll be exercising my human rights and helping the Corvallis community, and hopefully making the farmers‘ quality of lives better. Maybe I can even buy meat from there as well, and won’t have to buy the packaged chicken nuggets from Tyson.

It’s encouraging to hear that there has been a significant increase in the amount of plastics being recycled since 1997 (Subramanian).  I used to believe that as long as I recycled everything, I was being environmentally friendly. However, I have learned that it’s more important to reduce the initial amount of waste, so that there won’t be as much need for recycling. The less we have to recycle, the less pollution we emit into the environment. Reis states that “Incineration is increasingly used in waste management, in an effort to counter the problem of growing waste production, consequentially increasing human exposure to the most critical pollutants potentially emitted by these facilities.” It is only to our benefit that we must reduce pollution. We essentially breathe in the toxins that we produce. Also, when we produce a lot of toxins, we contribute to the climate change, and those living in places like Alaska are the ones paying the price.

I don’t think my small PSP actions have made much impact on intra-generational equity or diversity. As I am writing this and reflecting on my PSP action, I’m wondering if eating at restaurants is socially unsustainable. It is true, that by avoiding ‘to-go’s’, I’m reducing plastic and paper waste. But the fact of the matter is, I’m consuming the meat and the produce, which I have no idea of their origins. So even though I thought I was being environmentally sustainable by eating at restaurants, could I be supporting labor issues without realizing it?


M.F. Reis, Solid Waste Incinerators: Health Impacts, In: Editor-in-Chief:  Jerome O. Nriagu, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Environmental Health, Elsevier, Burlington, 2011, Pages 162-217, ISBN 9780444522726, 10.1016/B978-0-444-52272-6.00489-X.

P.M Subramanian, Plastics recycling and waste management in the US, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 28, Issues 3–4, February 2000, Pages 253-263, ISSN 0921-3449, 10.1016/S0921-3449(99)00049-X.

Jennings, Dana. 2011, June 25.Sustainable shopping: Buying Groceries with Zero Waste.

  1. julie says:

    Cute title! I love popping my own popcorn. You can make some awesome caramel corn if you pop your own, too. Many restaurants tell you about where the food comes from on their websites! Check out these:

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