Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's the small things that count ...

There is a wonderful green site called "Our Green Year". On day 295 of the authors' green journey, they gave up bubble gum. Yep ... bubble gum. They explained that the ingredients probably weren't fair trade, organic, healthy or Eco-friendly and that the packaging was ... well ... over the top. Bubble gum is waste with a capital "W".

That got me thinking about all the small packages that we come across ... those tiny packets of sugar, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, seeds, tea, tissue, sewing materials, etc., etc.

Remember when restaurants put a container of sugar on the table for patrons to use at their discretion? Many restaurants now use a container of various sweetener packets ... each individual packet holding a pre-measured amount of sweetener.

How about fast food restaurants? When you want some ketchup with those fries, you'll probably be given little, individual ... yep, you guessed it ... packets.

It doesn't end with restaurants. There are many stores that promote buying items in large quantities to save money. The basic concept of buying in bulk is great ... unless those items are individually wrapped, then wrapped together, then boxed or covered with plastic.

For example ... go to one of the warehouse type stores (I won't mention them here) and you're sure to find toilet paper with each roll individually wrapped or a few rolls wrapped together and then put in a huge plastic bag together with other "groups" of wrapped up rolls. It's a lot of waste and turns "buying in bulk" into mere "bulk".

So, today's tip is easy. Pay close attention to the items you buy and the things you use. If the item comes in small packets, see if there is a different option. For example, instead of buying spices in individual, one meal packets ... buy large containers of the mix or ... make your own (there are recipes for almost every spice blend on the Internet).

If you have a choice at a restaurant, choose the sugar, salt, etc., that comes in a container rather than a packet.

Are you taking fast food home? Use the ketchup you have at home instead of the small packets.

Put together your own sewing kit instead of buying those small, match-book kits.

Good things may come in small packages ... but they are just as good in bulk ... and there is a lot less waste. It's a small thing ... but it counts!

As always ... I would love to hear from you.


  1. I've written a few letters about this(thereby wasting paper ;-0) to certain companies. Why is anything sealed & sealed & then put in a tray & then sealed again, put in a cardboard box that is shrink wrapped. ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. At least here there are places I can go to drop off almost anything to be recycled, & I am diligent about it. ~Mary

  2. Great post! We don't go out to eat much but I will be watching now for all the small packaging. Thanks!

  3. this is so true! I am not guilty of this but the marines thast come to visit are. after the weekend is over I find packets of everything every where.
    I have often wondered why stuff is wrapped and wrapped again.

    OH I found this new t.p.....well new to me. It is by marcal.

    I have a good eo friendly friday planned!

  4. Does anyone know where to get Marcal paper products?



  5. Totally too much packaging for toilet paper! Whatever happened to just using a sears catalog?

  6. Great tips. Those little packets are indeed a big waste of materials. We have a gazillion of the Taco Bell sauce packets in our fridge because every time we go, they ask "do you want sauce?" and we say "no" and they put some in our bag anyway. Sometimes I pull it out and say "Remember? I don't want any. Thank you." It's almost like they get a commission if they get rid of a certain number of packets a day.

    So if you need any taco sauce, come over to my house, okay? Just bring an extra crunchy taco for me.

  7. Oh, this is a topic close to my green, but sometimes cranky heart!

    I HATE individual packaging. Hate it. But you know, let us all bow down before the Gods of Convenience....

    Do you have those little plastic soy sauce fish over there? The ones you get when you buy sushi? I have a bazillion of these at home because I don't actually use the soy sauce and I often forget to tell them no soy (and sometimes even when I do say no soy, they give it to me anyway because they are automatons).

    I have emptied them out and rinsed them all and I really want to do something with them, apart from throwing them in the bin...but what? I contemplated filling them with glitter and making a very tasteless mobile...Any ideas?

  8. Hi Frisky Librarian, I found this website and thought it was interesting.

  9. E.Michelle ... thanks for this link. I've passed it on to Frisky Librarian ... and read it myself. Very cool! When I read about kids like this ... I feel even more hopeful for the future!


  10. I love your site. Great tips on how to be green. We try to be as green as possible. Living in a very warm state like Texas, I hang our clothes out on a line, wash in cold water and found a recipe to make our own laundry detergent. As kermit the frog would say "it isn't easy being green". But I love it.

  11. Frisky Librarian - We do NOT have soy sauce fish! That is too cool. My Amazing Daughter would collect them if we did and our house would be jampacked with the little suckers.

    Good luck with your mobile!

  12. When living in Chicago, we had a bunch of soy sauce packets in a drawer. I ended up using them in my own stir fry...

    You're right about the little stuff adds up to a lot of waste.

    Good post...

  13. I googled the article I wrote for The New Author and it brought me here. Great site. Did you like my recession busting advice by the way?


  14. Hi Small!
    You should go and check out
    It's a pretty amazing site that really tells the story. I may just post a link to it on my blog. Everyone should see it.

  15. Patty, thanks for the link. It's a wonderful site. It's in my "green" blog roll. :)

  16. Rebecca, loved your recession busting article. For anyone wishing to read it, check my blog roll for "The New Author". Rebecca was a guest author there.


  17. Excellent post! I never understood why so much paper is used for individual rolls of toiletpaper. There are so many other things that are wrapped individually for no reason at all. I never understood that. Thanks for the tips.


  18. Thanks for the plug SF - I missed that :) I've put it up on my own site now so if anyone wants a peek its called 'Recession Expression' and the blog addy is:

    or this link should go straight to the article if anyone wants to link to it:

    Thanks again :)