Friday, June 12, 2009

catering to negligence

I've mentioned my disappointment with the fact that the Netherlands isn't as forward thinking about recycling as it is about other hot topics. I've managed to set a no excuses standard in this house that we recycle every piece of paper and glass that we can but when it comes to aluminum and plastic, there's nothing more that I can do. I've contacted the local garbage people to find out if there is a location for bringing these types of items, but haven't found anything promising. With that in mind, I have tried to minimize the food items that I purchase that are in those materials, such as plastic trays for pre-chopped veg and I choose glass jars of food product instead of aluminum.

I think, that if the Netherlands doesn't see that it is feasible to recycle across the board then at least they could make small changes in how their products are sold. For example, in the US there is a national supermarket chain called Whole Foods which specializes is selling natural products and organic foods from companies which package their goods using recycled materials. Today, I came across a blog post on the Sustainable is Good site which discusses how Whole Foods has made a move to eliminate unnecessary packaging waste often created by in-store bakeries. They've sought to solve this waste issue by using a product called Renew-a-Pakthat is manufactured by Biosphere Industries which is made from 100% renewable materials that allows them to bake in the package, sell it in the same package, where is can then be used at home in the oven or microwave and when the consumer finally disposes of it, it is 100% compostable. That's a pretty impressive zero waste concept.

If supermarket chains here made small changes in their mentality on packaging, much of the waste that we create would not end up sitting in a landfill in a million years. I'd like to know why the initiative hasn't been taken and why people here seem undaunted by that fact. That's food for thought, that is.


Anonymous said...

well, i think here it also depends which supermarket you go to. i think albert heijn does let you get lose unpackaged fruit and veg by the piece but a place like digros doesn't (oddly, because albert heijn is upscale). basically (and strangely, in my mind, wasteful seems more expensive) any supermarket that is 'cheap' will also only sell products that are more wasteful.

the best way to circumvent too much packaging is to go to the market wednesdays and saturdays, buy your veg there and bring your own bag. i don't do that either, but i figured maybe you hadn't discovered the market yet. the produce is generally better as well, it's cheaper and you can buy stuff by the piece rather than a whole net or bag of stuff that'll go off by the time you get to use it (not uncommon if you live alone like me, i really need to get back into going to the market once i have money again).

but yeah, one thing that's been totally bothering me since i've been back from the uk is the lack of opportunities for recycling and then STILL the uk is far more wasteful than the netherlands. anyway: to the markets!

Mlle said...

Yeah, I know I drew a comparison between an upscale organic supermarket to Albert Heijn, which does have some nice foods as well but is still much different.

I think it's crazy though, how a lot of the food is wrapped in plastic film. What I used to do is just load all of the fruit loose into my bag and not use the plastic at all, but here I'm not given a choice.

Good point about the market. I should really take advantage of it. I think I've put it off on account of the fact that my Dutch is so bad, although I think that is really a pathetic excuse.

Well... it IS Saturday today, so maybe I should go and check it out :)

A Touch of Dutch said...

Good point!

It does shock me as well, about the packaging and recycling in general. We try to recycle all things, but I've found it here to be more of a challenge. I admit America isn't top on doing this either, but I lived in a very 'green' city in America & was accustomed to automatically sorting my tin cans, plastic containers and cardboard without second thought. We had sorting containers provided to us which were picked up weekly with our garbage, and there was no confusion about it. Easy as 1-2-3.

Mlle said...

It's true. When you live in certain areas, you do get spoiled (if it is possible to be spoiled when it comes to garbage!?) when it's so easy and you don't have to put forth much effort. When I was in Brooklyn, we had the same thing, bins on every floor of our building which were taken care of by the building super.

In Brussels, the city went to great lengths to force you to recycle... to the point where they would go through your trash for a name or address if you screwed up and send you a fine for not sorting properly!

If I had a car, I would just take all my trash with me when I visit my friend in Antwerp. ha ha.

Anonymous said...

the bad part about leiden is they don't even allow anyone who lives in the city center to separate their waste between the green and grey bins, they opted out of it so i'm stuck offering everything all at once (except my paper and glass).

not only do i loathe all these individually wrapped fruits and veg... i live alone, for me it's much easier to buy one potato or one kiwi fruit, but they won't let me. so either i get bored to tears trying to finish these big ass packages, or i have to throw half of it out cause it goes off before i can finish it.

that's why i (should) go to the market. and no, not being able to speak dutch is no excuse, you know all of us at least speak a handful of english, and you can always point and shit and explain what you want thattaway. good luck and see you there! ;)

Mlle said...

ok. I'll send you a pep talk sms on Wed and Sat to encourage your market attendance.