Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Recycle Rant

Please do bear with me as I divert from my regular foodie format to indulge a bit of a rant on recycling in the United States.

Fifteen years ago I was living in South Korea. I traveled there as a non-command-sponsored military spouse. That means that my husband was in the U.S. military and I was not allowed to accompany him on that assignment. However, because I am that kind of gal, I applied for a visa on my personal passport, bought a plane ticket and went anyway. I had a small apartment near the air base and was able to get a job at the American School on the base. I had access to some things on most days, but I preferred to buy most everything on the local economy.

Most American-made products could be purchased off-base not only at better prices, but using advanced packaging techniques that I appreciated. Most products--like laundry soap, shampoo and conditioner, fabric softeners--even toothbrushes--were produced with recycling in mind.

Because Korea is such a small country, they must recycle.

Liquid products were sold in their regular containers of product in moderation. Then there were the refill packs in thin, bio-degradeable paper or plastic containers. You were meant to re-use that plastic shampoo bottle! Even toothbrushes had screw-on bristle heads. The handle could be used over and over again.

That's what I call responsible marketing. Not these glossy ads in the center of Better Homes and Gardens about the different products you can buy (all in their own, sturdy plastic containers, of course) that make you more of a "green shopper."

If I could buy refill packages in Korea fifteen years ago, why can't I do it here, now? Why?

Because companies can't justify current price structures if they offer cheaper packaging options. Yet these U.S.-based companies know how to provide these products in smaller countries that require it. Hmm.

What do you think? Should we demand the same? I would gladly refill my plastic containers with less-expensive refill packages. Good for my pocketbook, and good for the environment.


Mary said...

I think you are spot on.

Sam said...

I agree, here in England re-filling bottles has been trialled a few times but for some reason never took off.
One of our supermarkets was selling milk in plastic bags and an insulated jug for your fridge which you re-filled.

Amanda said...

Now refillable milk containers sounds like a fabulous idea to me. A better quality jug that stays in the fridge, and then refill containers. Perfect.

Thanks, Mary and Sam.

katiez said...

We can get a few things in plastic 'refill sacs' but not nearly enough. Maybe because they can be a bit hard to handle at first (a 2 litre bag of liquid)
Wonderful idea, though... maybe, some day, the 'first world' will catch up!

Amanda said...

Good point, katiez. I wasn't thinking really about toting around 2ltr of liquid. When I was doing it 15 yrs ago, I remember the bladder-like refills being rather smallish.

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