The majority of what I could not eliminate during my forty days of trash was receipts. Even if the rest of my shopping trip was package free or completely recyclable, or if I brought my own to-go ware to the restaurant, those tiny jerks followed me around like a bad BPA-coated penny.
Of course, you can get away from the sly dogs at places like gas stations or coffee shops that use Square Readers. But what the heck am I supposed to do for the other 90 percent of my purchases?
Why it matters
And I’m learning that there are two types of printed receipts – ones printed with ink and ones printed on thermal paper. Ink receipts use ink (duh) printed on paper. Thermal receipts use a combination of pressure, heat, and a special type of paper to etch the correct print on the receipt, no ink required. This system is often cheaper, which means that it’s everywhere.
The problem with thermal receipts is that they are often lined with BPA, which you might recall as “that chemical they don’t use in water bottles anymore because it is a known carcinogen.” Now chronic exposure to BPA will definitely cause problems to the human body, but the science is still out what the exact impact is for short encounters with the chemicals. However, this still seems like a big enough question mark that any rational person (especially people like cashiers) would not want to be touching this stuff regularly.
In addition to being a big health problem, thermal paper receipts should definitely not be recycled. As they are recycled with the rest of paper they could end up being turned into other paper or tissue which just keeps the BPA in circulation, negatively impacting even more people.(Also the thought of BPA ending up in my toilet paper makes me feel….bad. Everywhere.)
I think that we all need to take a leaf out of the late Mitch Hedberg’s book and forgo the majority of receipts altogether. #mitchaltogether
Difficulty Level: Moderate/High
So what is the solution? I’m still working on it. Receipts are THE WORST and I don’t care who knows it. Of course, the obvious solution is to plan ahead, not eat out, and only shop at places that have no-receipt options. Doable? Well, no.
What happens when you ask for no receipt? Most places just have it printed automatically, which means you have no control. Ask you local grocery store or other shops to offer email receipts. Several of my local grocers offer this option.
And we definitely need to move away from the use of dangerous thermal paper for the safety and health of our cashiers, our families, the planet…