I thought I’d give the second of the Three R‘s some love today and start reusing. Up until now, I haven’t paid much attention to this dull, middle child in the waste hierarchy. Yes, sometimes I’ll use the same Ziploc bag a few times for the crackers in my lunch, refill the travel-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles I have whenever I go on vacation, and of course there’s my water bottle and coffee thermos.
But it’s time to start laying some rules down: first and foremost, when it comes to any bottle of cleaning product — shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, laundry detergent, surface cleaner, etc — as long as I can pump it out in bulk at Grassroots or The Big Carrot, I’m going to refill it. This might mean switching to another brand in some cases, but I’ll have to make do.
Second, if I’m buying any food at the grocery store that comes in bulk — like walnuts, organic coconut, almond butter, flax seeds, quinoa (can you tell my best friend is a nutritionist?) — I’m going to bring one of my own plastic containers to refill.
And lastly, I’m going to make sure that if I do need to buy something new, I consider whether or not it can be refilled before I purchase it.
My only reluctance in doing this is that I still have a few brand-name, toxin-packed products in my apartment that I’m waiting to finish before I invest in a natural alternative. But I’m not sure refilling something that used to be full of carcinogenic sludge is such a good idea — doesn’t evil lurk in the bottom of those Vim bottles no matter how thoroughly you try to rinse them out?
And there’s also a part of me that wants to advertise the fact that I’m choosing safer products so that others might inquire and subsequently make similar consumer choices, but that probably won’t happen if I’m storing my natural shampoo in a bottle with a big Kiehl’s label on it.
What do you guys think? Should I just stop being so paranoid about toxic residue? Should I start peeling off the labels from my chemical-infused shampoo bottles when I refill them, then write something over top in permanent marker like, “This is not a brand-name product full of parabens and sodium laurel sulfate”?