“Just one word,” I think to myself as I stare into my cupboards. “Plastics.” Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in the 1967 movie “The Graduate.” Plastic is everywhere, from the soft film that wraps the toilet paper rolls to the inside of cereal boxes.
Last month when there was a snowstorm, we ran out of hand soap in the bathroom. The giant refillable container I kept under the cupboard was empty, too, so I took out a box of bar soap instead.
Afterward, I wondered why it had never occurred to me do this before. I looked it up, and there are numerous studies that show that while germs can continue to live in the slime that bar soap sits on, they don’t transmit from person to person. If you wash your hands vigorously and sing the alphabet song in your head (to make sure you’re washing long enough), bar soap works fine.
Rediscovering the wonders of bar soap was my first step toward reducing my ecological footprint in 2020. The second was signing up for Ridwell, a new recycling service from Seattle that has recently come to my neighborhood.
For $10 a month, Ridwell will recycle things that I can’t dump in my normal recycling bin: batteries, light bulbs, clothing and plastic film. Many of my friends had already signed up and loved it. But I wondered, where do the soft plastic go?
I emailed Ryan Metzger, CEO of Ridwell to find out. “We work with several partners, all of whom are based in the U.S.,” he told me. “One we are especially excited to share is PAC Worldwide, a Washington-based company that makes packaging for e-commerce.” Metzger also told me that Ridwell has worked with other companies, like Trex, which makes decking materials.
A white Ridwell box showed up on my doorstep the following week. Inside the box were drawstring bags to collect the four categories. I filled them up quickly. We had a small horde of dead batteries languishing in the junk drawer, a fluorescent light bulb had recently burnt out, and my kids had both outgrown some clothes. But the bag I packed the most was for plastic film.
Bread bags, six-pack rings, Amazon Prime packaging, bubble wrap, produce bags — that stuff was everywhere. Plus, since I’m a newspaper subscriber, a new bag shows up on my driveway each day. It’s great knowing that I now have an easy way to recycle them.
Unfortunately, the only two Snohomish County cities Ridwell currently serves are Edmonds and Woodway. “We have waiting lists going in a few other cities, and several of them are getting close,” Metzger wrote. “We expand this way because minimizing travel is a key part of how we operate.”
I’ve had one Ridwell pickup, and so far I’m impressed. For those of you in areas that Ridwell doesn’t cover, you can find places to recycle plastic film at www.plasticfilmrecycling.org. Another great resource is snohomishcountywa.gov/530/Recycling.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.