(Chelsea Update would like to thank Frank Hammer and the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority for the information in this column.)
Reggie enjoys picnics and barbeques and camping and beaches. Remember, he is a raccoon that reminds readers to remember to be “recycle-responsible.”
Reggie asks that you should consider the materials you use with that food and drink — the plates, the eating utensils and the drink holders. Here’s the thing, if you drop and break a glass in your house, you don’t just leave it there, right? You spend the time to clean it up because broken glass is not healthy.
If you spill salad dressing on your shirt or blouse, you don’t just throw it away and buy a new one, you make the effort to clean the spot and return the item to use.
So—if you plan to eat and prepare food outdoors, help keep the nature that surrounds you just as clean and healthy.
Rule number one: Avoid Styrofoam. You may think you can toss it in the grill or campfire and it melts to nothing—but doing that releases toxic gases that you can’t see, and mixes in with the wood smoke. Styrofoam has no useful purpose in an outdoor picnic—not even those ubiquitous Styrofoam single-use coolers.
Be Recycle-Responsible and use a real one.
Outdoor plastic gear follows the same rule. Trash all flexible plastic, check the numbers on the bottom of other products. All plastic eating utensils (that don’t have numbers) can be recycled, and it helps the sorting crew if you put them in a paper bag first.
Use paper (not plastic) bags to collect any plastic or paper items you plan to bring home to recycle or look around for recycling containers wherever you might be.
Reggie says, “Loose food on them is yucky,” so wipe them down with a paper napkin—then place them into the recycling bag for transport.
Maybe you are asking yourself, “If I am doing all that, why not use materials that I can use next time?” Great idea. You can purchase serviceable multiple-use plastic plates, glasses, cups and utensils, inexpensively, at local groceries and dollar stores, that are dishwasher safe and hold up to lots of yummy potato salad, ribs and kielbasa.
For camping or hiking, you can invest in a backpack just for your recycle-responsible supplies, or even upgrade to life-time guaranteed light-weight metal aluminum plates and utensils.
Your plastic suntan bottles can be recycled, too.
You’ll feel so good after you develop “Recycle-Responsible” habits while enjoying the great Michigan outdoors.
“Have fun in the sun,
And be Recycle-Responsible
When you’re done!”