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plastic substitutions Options
John Edward Mercier
#1 Posted : Friday, January 02, 2009 12:15:16 AM
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I use plastic for items that are to be reused continuously...

But for items you would normally use only once then dispose of, you could find other options are even biodegradeable plastic product.

 

cmate
#2 Posted : Friday, January 02, 2009 2:48:59 PM
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I bought some re-usable shopping bags & promptly lost them, however, I re-use my plastic shopping bags for many things, including picking up the dog poop in yard, gathering & storing stuff, I usually have 6 or so stored for regular use. I have tupperware-type containers in kitchen that are re-used forever; sometimes I buy the 'glad' brand containers too, but I re-use them forever too, great for freezing soup & stock etc. I use Saran wrap whenever I don't have a lid for whatever reason, when refrigerating stuff, however, I write the date I opened the saran & my current roll (600 sq ft) was opened Jan. 2007! So I would think that was pretty conservative. I use foil too but even more sparingly & typically only in the oven when needed. I have only recently discovered that biodegrable plastic used for salad packaging (that's the only place I've seen it so far), so am willing to buy that over another type of packaging & throw it right into the compost bin as label suggests. Hope it works.
Kristine
#3 Posted : Sunday, January 04, 2009 4:24:33 PM
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Hi

Where are you finding the biodegradable plastic?

Thanks

Kristine

Sarah/Librum
#4 Posted : Sunday, January 04, 2009 4:27:54 PM
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Hello Kristine,

Welcome to the forums.  I'm called Sarah, and am old order Mennonite.  I say that up front because some people have to be told that to know 'where she is coming from'.

It is ironic that plastic is one of the most recyclable things, but is not.  The problem is that it is cheaper to make new than to recycle old.  Until this changes, well, English will have this problem.

I have fond memories of us getting the message to 'come and get them', visiting the county junk yard and there were those huge skip loaders for trash stuffed with plastic bottles.  The people there actually went through the trash and grabbed out all of the bottles, and separated the clear bottles for our use.  Majere (one of our very respected elders, RIP) would show up with us with one of those trash trucks that handled the skip loaders, and a wagon holding the melting equipment.  Then we would start the melt.  We made bricks from that plastic.

The 'customer service' ramps, walls, and roads at the dump are made of all the other plastics bricked, and were made for the dump in a true barter arrangement there on site.  And ice will not form on them, so no black ice issues on those hilly roads.  The 'clear' bricks were used for any job where one would normally use brick.  Hereabouts you can see many a nice outbuilding or shed made from them.  Plastic shingles too.  These are not legal for human occupancy, fire hazard reasons, but very tough and natural looking.

Please to not say something like 'my one or two bags are nothing'.  It may take a lot to make anything, but they add up!  When I think of this place, I see the recycled plastic everywhere.  But you have to know the work exists to appreciate it.  Shrink wrap, zip lock, trash bags, etc are all reuseable.  In fact all my 'daily ware' in my kitchen is such, recast.  Think of 'tupperware'. 

Does your area have a reclaimation system?  If so, please support it. 

Sarah
John Edward Mercier
#5 Posted : Sunday, January 04, 2009 11:01:05 PM
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Biodegradable plastics are usually made from a starch.

They actually have packing peanuts you can consume.

You might find some products right on your supermarket shelve, but in case not.

www.biodegradablestore.com

John Edward Mercier
#6 Posted : Sunday, January 04, 2009 11:07:27 PM
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I forgot.

Look closely at all your plastic disposables... most should have the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle triangle with a number in the middle. These plastics are recyclable, just remove the caps beforehand (they are usually made from a different plastic).

Everything from plastic milk jugs to soda bottles will have them.

 

davisonh
#7 Posted : Sunday, January 04, 2009 11:09:26 PM
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Sarah, if it's not too much of an imposition do you  remember what Majere used to melt clear plastic?Were there special steps taken for different types of plastic and temps ?I do know some plastics melt @ different temps,some often solidify at  high heat and some dont..Again the OOMs lost a very wonderful person,he will be sadly missed..
Frosty
#8 Posted : Monday, January 05, 2009 4:29:58 AM
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Sarah, it has been a long time since I read a post as fascinating as yours... I really need to research and find what I can on melting the plastic into bricks.  Was the melting equipment homemade or commercially available?  I really wish that I could have seen that and learned how to do it!  

We live in a very rural area, the only recycle that they take is paper and aluminum cans, or the industrial places will take steel, copper, etc...  Nobody here takes plastic anymore.  I worry that as the value of scrap steel, aluminum, etc keeps dropping, there will be less places to take items for recycle.  And I read in the local paper that the stuff is sent to China???  Are we actually sending loads of stuff to China to be recycled?  So how much fuel is getting used in the process? 

I reuse the plastic grocery sacks, I use them when I scoop the cat box, as liners in the smaller trash cans, to harvest veggies such as beans... We sell veggies at a local Farmers Market, and as long as the bags are clean and in good shape, they get used there, too.       

  

John Edward Mercier
#9 Posted : Monday, January 05, 2009 9:51:00 PM
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This might help...

http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin_identification_code

 

Spark123y
#10 Posted : Wednesday, January 07, 2009 3:57:41 AM
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Kristine, Its fun to see what we can do to reduce waste. For ex. I use bread bags instead of sandwich bags. Yes, I also use the reusable grocery bags and use them for multipurpous things. For example haul returnables to store and haul groceries back. Carry mail, etc. etc. We have a pretty good recycling proram here in town that takes plastics glass and metal. I only send plastic and glass since I like to send all my metals to the scrap yard for extra $. My food waste goes in the garden and nothing is left for the trash man.
Sarah/Librum
#11 Posted : Wednesday, January 07, 2009 6:42:47 PM
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My goodwife asked for my assistance in this.  This is Amos.

Frosty,  Davisonh,

From her, you need to visit Lindsey Books.  http://www.lindsaybks.com/.  The first book is on their plastic moulding machine, #1441, and the second on Lil Bertha #4163.  The first will give you the process of melting and casting, to include the heaters, etc, in small scale.  The second will give you the process to make the dichrome wire heating elements for larger work.

The machine used at the land fill was a modified water cooler, with the hot water elements remaining.  The water spout was replaced with a smooth copper stopcock spout.  The five galleon jug was completely removed.  The metal bowl inside the cooler was dichrome wired to become a thermostatic controlled warming chamber.  The plastics are cleaned, chopped up, and dropped into the bowl.  When full, a wooden piston was used to pump the molten mass out the spout.  A person held a breadpan under the spout, filling it like one would fill a beer stein to minimise the head.  The pan was then walked to a water trough and bottom quenched.  The brick pops up and out. 

Mr Mercer,

I will go check that information out now.  Thank you.  We have stumbled on starch plastics in the past and they mess up the procedure.

Now to give some other notes on the plastic bricks.

The first is that we no longer use them for paving of any sort.  It is true that ice will not form on them, but they will remain slick.  The dump solved this by taking a dragon torch, playing it on the exposed surface of the bricks, and casting sand on them.

The second is that Majere used wooden dowel or rebar to tie the bricks together.  A better process is now used, we make the dowels from plastic also, using the same injection moulding process given in the above book.

The third is that biscuit joinery is now often used, over the dowel work, unless we want a permanent installation.

The fourth is that mortar of any kind simply does not work well.  Majere made a hot glue gun from a air compressor forced grease gun.  The barrel of the gun was dichrome heater sheathed.  This melted plastic is squirted between the bricks, and with a soft face mallet the bricks are slammed together, forming a good seal.

The fifth is that Majere's first unit was little more than a metal roller paint brush tray with the heating elements on the bottom of the ramp.  Using this he was able to calculate the temperatures, and exposures needed.  Using reposse (hammer work) he made the bottom more square and brick like.  He did experiment with various release agents but never found an effective one.

The sixth is that the major problem with such work is keeping bubbles from forming in the mass.  This is why Majere used gravity in the first units, allowing the plastic to flow into the brick cavity mould.  This is also why the water cooler unit spout had a weep hole in the side. 

Todays unit is a large air compressor based pump.  It pours four inch by four foot by four foot slabs, in a two part mould.  We cast as we obtain enough stock.  We simple cut the slab to get the sizes we need for recasting, or cut directly into bricks.

Now to hand the keyboard back to my wife, I have much to do.

Amos
Sarah/Librum
#12 Posted : Wednesday, January 07, 2009 6:48:55 PM
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Davisonh,

Yes, we miss him greatly.

Frosty,

Get the Lindsay catalog, there are other materials in there on furnaces and the like.  An enclave not far from us goes out to construction sites or to the refuse haulers and smelts the metal construction debris and resells it.  Glass too.  I do not know how they control the fumes.  Sorry.

Sarah
davisonh
#13 Posted : Thursday, January 08, 2009 1:27:40 AM
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Amos,Sarah I cannot thank you enough for the information;seems very difficult to come by in the mainstream/English world!I have copied your post and I will see if I can improvise something for my own use.I have many uses and sources of plastic/heaters and have'nt been able to find anyone or a source of info that seems to know anything about it.You have given me some ideas,we have old blanket heaters and such that can't be used but are still good for heating materials and I have free use of them.Again thank you..yes I miss Majere too.
Sarah/Librum
#14 Posted : Tuesday, January 13, 2009 6:19:03 PM
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Davisonh,

I am not an electrician but I doubt you can do it with parts from electric blankets and such.  Now that I have had a chance to review the books I mentioned earlier, I repeat my suggestion to get them.  Oh, and before I forget, recycling dichrome wire is not good either, I now know that once heated, it becomes set, and straightening weakens them, causing early failure.  Also, I am now aware that Lindsay also has a new book for injection molding using a drill press, I just ordered it for our library.

Sarah
isun
#15 Posted : Friday, March 20, 2009 4:42:00 AM
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After reading all of the horrible stories about plastic contamination of food, I have replaced all of my storage contianers with Pyrex glass containers and Fido Glass canning jars for the staples.  There are a few things that we still keep in ziplock bags (dry, non-oily, non-acidic items), but we always reuse the bag until they begin to look worn ( a sign the plastic is beginning to degrade).  When we use up the item, we just put the bag back where the item is usually kept until we replenish.  With a sufficient supply of glass containers, you can get creative about storage.  The Pyrex company sells sets with a variety of shapes and sizes, just about anything will fit in them.  I used them for my bring-to-work-lunch, along with a spoon or fork from home.  If you commit to not using plastic, you will figure out quickly how unneccessary plastic is.  3 sets of Pyrex storage containers (Target or Sam's Club, about $20 a set), a dozen canning jars (Fante's.com), a stainless steel water bottle and a roll of parchment paper, and you are good.  it's been about 6 months now, and my recycle bin fills up much slower, and my garbage even slower.  Of course, we did not throw the old plastic containers away, we use them to organize the little things that clutter our garage or yard sale them.  They bring 5 bucks a box!

boltguy
#16 Posted : Monday, March 30, 2009 9:02:48 AM
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I rarely use plastic bags because I think they are an awful waste. For shopping I have re-usable cotton bags. Of course I have some plastic bags - you seem not to be able to avoid that nowadays, but those that I have I use for a very long time.

crispyfarms
#17 Posted : Wednesday, April 08, 2009 2:31:34 AM
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If you are conscious of your consumption, you can pretty much stay away from plastics.

Reusable food storage containers, washing out ziploc bags, squeezing fresh juice or at least buying it in the little metal containers and reconstituting it, and making your own cleaning and laundry products helps to make the plastics you do use last as long as possible.

Personally, we burn all of our paper/cardboard trash, so when I go to the grocery, I ask for paper bags so I can store garbage in it to be burned like a log later.

gerry
#18 Posted : Saturday, April 11, 2009 3:52:42 PM
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I have begun getting all my groceries in paper bags again.  Come fall, I will fill them with leaves to mulch the gardens.  By spring at lest the bottoms will have decomposed; the leaves will all be in place, not blown about by wind; and I can either turn them under or redistribute to anyplace they are needed or just add them to the compost pile for next year.  The bags should also be good for kitchen waste for periods when the weather won't permit me to work outside.  (I guess I'm still chicken to get out in the rain and snow and heavy winds.  /WorkArea/threadeddisc/emoticons/confused.png )

gerry

JeremyAdam
#19 Posted : Sunday, May 09, 2010 5:30:15 AM
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I think alot more of it has to do with the food you are buying than the bags you are using. Don't buy alot of packaging. Most of your food should be fresh produce if you aren't growing it yourself which is even better. Don't buy tubs of stuff like fake butter or any of that nonsense it is killing you anyway. Go ahead and use ziploc style bags for bulk food storage were a container wont do. We freeze alot of bulk soups and stock in 1 gallon freezer bags and then reuse them when they are empty. Treat them as a reusable commodity. One of the most over looked parts of the three R's is Re-use. Don't vilify plastic bags since they allow for great thrift in other areas. Ill bet I could come into your house and find 100 other things that were much more important to thrift and ecology than whether you are using plastic bags or not. First step plant a garden. If you have no land use containers. Then worry about plastic.

Kristine
#20 Posted : Sunday, May 09, 2010 5:30:15 AM
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Hello,

This is my first post, hope I'm in the right place. I'm trying to live more wisely.  Part of this involves being mindful of my use of plastic products.  Last year, I bought reusable shopping bags instead of using the plastic ones provided by the store.  This year, I'd like to get rid of plastics in the kitchen.

What do you use instead of saran wrap? Instead of plastic bags (gallon or sandwich)? What about garbage bags?

Just looking for ideas.  Thanks

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