The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 2, 2007

Week 2 Results: Head buried under 17 oz. of plastic waste!

Plastic MeditationOverwhelming, the amount of plastic that we have in our house. And embarassing this week to admit the kind of toilet paper that we’ve been buying: Jumbo packs of Quilted Northern from Costco. Oh the shame of it! Many plastic-wrapped 6-packs of toilet paper inside a huge outer wrap of plastic. And individually wrapped rolls of paper towels inside another huge outer wrapper. Think of all the old-growth forests destroyed so these could exist. It’s going to take us quite a while to use it all up.

So, once again, here is the tally of items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

First, plastic wrappers, bags, and other non-recyclable plastic:

  • 3 Kashi granola bar wrappers. These are all gone and I’ve switched to eating cereal in the morning.
  • 2 Whole Treats Belgian Chocolates Little Bites candy wrappers. A few more of these left in the candy bowl.
  • 1 17.6 oz. Garofalo spaghetti wrapper. Another purchase from Costco. I have 4 more packages to use up.
  • 1 Cabot reserve cheddar cheese wrapper. Still haven’t figured out where to get cheddar cheese without plastic. See discussion of the cheese shop at Market Hall.
  • 1 Oroweat English muffins bag. I believe English muffins only come in plastic, so I’ll be giving these up.
  • 7 Emergen-C packets. Just going to give this up as soon as it’s gone. Gave away a full box of these on Oakland Freecycle this week and only have a couple packets left.
  • 1 plastic wrapper from a box of Trader Joe’s savory thins crackers. Going to switch to Wasa crackers, which come wrapped in waxed paper.
  • About 4 feet of used packing tape. Came from another one of our old moving boxes.
  • 2 unidentifiable clear plastic wrappers. Found these while cleaning a closet.
  • 1 broken 48 oz. Lamarle tupperware-like container. This container has no number on it, so it’s impossible to tell what kind of plastic it is and whether or not it can be recycled.
  • 3 pieces of plastic from iPod accessory packaging.
  • 9 Refresh Endura single-use eyedrop containers. I wrote to Allergan this week to find out what kind of plastic it is. They have not yet responded.
  • 27 expired Refresh Plus single-use eyedrop containers. I found these while cleaning out a drawer. This kind doesn’t work for me, so I just had to empty them out. Since they were expired, I couldn’t Freecycle them.
  • 1 plastic mount from a Venus shaver cartridge container. Found while cleaning out the same drawer.
  • 1 tiny plastic palette and spatula from a container of Jolen Cream Bleach. Found in the same drawer. Don’t know why I ever bought this. The container of bleach itself went into my household hazardous waste bag.
  • 1 outer wrapper from a 6-pack of 6-pack rolls of Quilted Northern toilet paper. Will be switching to paper-wrapped recycled toilet paper when these are all gone. Haven’t decided which brand yet.
  • 1 wrapper from a 6-pack of Quilted Northern toilet paper. See above.
  • 1 outer wrapper from a 12-pack of individually wrapped rolls of Kirkland Signature paper towels. Haven’t found paper towels not wrapped in plastic. Don’t know what to do about these yet.
  • 1 piece of purple ribbon from gift-wrapping. Found while cleaning.
  • 1 outer wrapper from a Clearly Natural glycerin soap 3-pack. Will be switching to unwrapped soap.
  • 1 Walgreen’s plastic grocery bag with holes in it. Not reusable.
  • 1 Middle East Baking Co. whole wheat pita bag. I believe pitas only come in plastic bags, so no more pitas for me.
  • 1 piece of plastic from a Kirkland Signature facial tissue box. This one came from work. Yes, I’m holding myself responsible for the plastic I use at work, too.

Now for the recyclable plastic items:

  • 2 #1 CA Redemption Value bottles: A 1.25 litre Crystal Geyser bottle and a 1 litre Calistoga bottle. I have one more Crystal Geyser bottle, and then I’ll be switching to glass. Michael will take these to Safeway for the money.
  • #2 plastic: 1 12-oz, bottle of expired Rite Aid saline solution. Michael can recycle this at work.

That’s it for the waste from items purchased before the plastic project began. Okay, now for this week’s brand new plastic waste.

  • 2 plastic films from frozen dinners — Organic Bistro and Seeds of Change. Both of these meals are great, the trays are cardboard, and they only contain one thin film of plastic over the top. Am still purchasing them for the time being.
  • 1 Silk soy milk spout and cap.
  • 1 inner liner from cheddar cheese from Market Hall. See discussion of the cheese shop at Market Hall.
  • 2 plastic drinking straws. Both of these were thoughtless mistakes! Twice I ordered iced coffee in sit-down restaurants and forgot to ask them not to bring me a straw. The first time, I at least remembered to take the straw home with me to save it from the landfill. The second time, I forgot the straw altogether.
  • 2 plastic spoons from Yogurt Park. I forgot about the spoon when I ordered a sundae. Should have ordered a cone. Brought 1 spoon home to reuse. The other spoon was thrown away by the employee because it was “sticky.” She threw it away before I could say anything.
  • 1 toothpick with purple plastic on the end. Yeah, it’s small. But it counts. It was stuck in a Specialty’s sandwich. Man, I thought I was safe!

And here is the one plastic item that I purchased this week that is destined for next week’s plastic waste list:

  • 1 half gallon carton of Safeway Organics soy milk. I ran out of soy milk and Safeway was the only store open late Sunday night. I still haven’t found plastic-free soy milk anyway.

And that’s all. I did acquire some other plastic items this week: 3 power strips, 1 cutlery tray, and 1 6-pack of little blue bowls. But the power strips came from a guy on Freecycle and the rest came from Goodwill, so it doesn’t count. In fact, this is plastic that I may have saved from a landfill.
 

6 comments
Anonymous
Anonymous

COME ON! Wiping my ass with a towel and washing it??? Dont be such a freak!

Anonymous
Anonymous

So, I was just randomly googling "toilet paper mound" (you can make your own associations) for research on an art project I am about to start and your blog came up. And I just happen to be the same person who you added to your facebook today because I got some bubble wrap from you off of freecycle. The internet is a small place after all.Great blog, by the way!--Trisha

axelle
axelle

If you bring your own container to a cheese shop, they can weigh the container and then weigh the cheese, put the cheese in your container, do the cheese weight vs. container weight math, stick the label on your container, and off you go. Same thing with meat. Bring your containers to Berkeley Bowl's weigh station and have them pre-weighed, then fill them with bulk stuff and weighed again. They'll deduct the weight of the container. I stopped using plastic containers as food storage when someone gave me a couple of boxes of canning jars with rings and an extra box of lids. If a lid picks up the odor of food, I use another lid and stick the old one in the sun for a couple of weeks. I really like being able to see what's in the glass jars instead of guessing what's in an opaque plastic container.

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank
Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank

Thanks for your comments. Morgan, just yesterday I discovered bulk powdered soy milk at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco. It's made from 100% organic soybeans and nothing else. Just add water. So I bought some and am going to try it. Since I only use it in my tea and on my cereal, I am hoping I won't notice much difference between that and the refrigerated kind. And it costs a lot less when you don't have to pay for water and packaging!Your comment about the paper towels is right on. Just have to start new habits, I guess.

Morgan
Morgan

I have two suggestions to help reduce plastics on the list. About paper towels, I don't know of a brand that doesn't come wrapped in plastic either. But you could just not buy any altogether. Rather than use paper towels (if they are sitting on my kitchen counter I plow through them) cut up some old towels, bedsheets, and t-shirts or even buy some rags and keep a container of them uder the sink. When you use them, rinse them and use them again or put it in another container and wash them at the end of the week. About soymilk, you could stop relying on manufacturers for that as well. I've made my own soymilk and it's great. Get some soybeans in bulk at a 'health food store' and bring your own bag to take them home in. Rather than buy a soymilk maker (which probably has some plastic components) just do it on the stovetop.Good job at the catalog of plastics. It really made me aware of how much plastic we use!

Debra
Debra

Beth, thanks for doing this! I have also been trying to track/reduce our family's plastic consumption, and I quickly got overwhelmed. Seeing your blog and some of the others reminds me that we are not tilting at windmills... OK so maybe we are tilting at windmills, but at least we are not tilting alone. I appreciate what you are doing!Gracie :)A