During the ongoing pandemic many of us are finding plastic sneaking back into our lives. From plastic grocery bags that come along with online ordering, to countless bottles of hand sanitizer, and the ever entertaining, plastic bubble wrap and air pillows that come along with items shipped with online purchases.
In most cases it is best to shop local. I know, you know. But occasionally there comes a time that we must venture beyond what our community can offer and shop online. And it never fails, after opening a box (that is ten times larger than necessary) containing a couple items purchased online, the dreaded plastic air pillows pop out of the box and only then I remember that I forgot to practice one of the most important R’s of zero waste. REQUEST.
Did you know that you can request minimal packaging when placing an online order? This can be easily done through the comments or additional notes box during checkout. Many sellers are happy to comply with this request as it saves them the additional costs of packaging materials. We have also seen an increase in sellers voluntarily using packaging alternatives; such as wrapping materials in newspapers and using shredded cardboard for their more fragile items. (Yay, progress!) But sometimes, no matter how much you request – or forget to remember – some packages end up on your doorstep filled with plastic sadness.
The best thing to do with this packaging material is to reuse. Shipping something to your friend you were supposed to have a vacation with last month, great! Reuse those air pillows so your cookies arrive intact and deliciously appealing. However, if reusing is not a possibility, as the kids got a hold of the bubble wrap, there are certain plastic materials that are recyclable.
In the Missoula area, Target and all Albertsons stores collect and recycle soft plastics including your grocery bags, bubble wrap, bread bags, plastic wrappers from things like toilet paper, cereal bags, plastic shipping bags and more. Find the complete list of accepted items here.
For questions on what to do with any other plastics or materials, you can always find a helpful guide on the Zero by Fifty website under the What Do I Do With section.