The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
June 2, 2009

Update: Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge

As I mentioned yesterday, many of you have taken the challenge… so many in fact that I felt a separate sub-blog was in order to collect all the tallies. And so (drum roll please) I hereby announce the inauguration of the

Show Your Plastic Challenge web page

Here is a recap of the challenge rules as well as two ways to post your photos and tallies to the blog. It’s not too late to join the fun or just leave comments for the other participants with your ideas, suggestions, or bursts of inspiration. I’m sure those who have posted already would love some support.


1) Collect all of your own plastic waste, both recyclable and non, for a minimum of one week. If you want to go for more than one week, great! Just keep each week’s collection separate.

2) What qualifies as yours? Anything that benefits you. So, if your housemate or significant other brings home a tub of yogurt that you both share, the tub goes in your tally. But if you hate yogurt, never touch the stuff, and wouldn’t have bought it for yourself in a million years, it’s not your responsibility. What about stuff for your kids? I’ll leave that up to you. Whatever you decide, just be consistent about collecting it. Personally, I’d be very interested to see how much plastic waste is generated by babies, since I don’t have children myself.

3) Live normally in the first week. It doesn’t help to artificially reduce your plastic consumption for the sake of a one-week tally if you will go back to living with more plastic afterward. Think of this exercise as a scientific experiment. Nothing more.

4) Guilt is not encouraged. Nor are comparisons with other people whom you perceive to be doing “worse” or “better” than you in terms of plastic waste. This exercise is for purely educational purposes. Guilt doesn’t help.

5) Take a photo of your stash and list out the items at the end of each week that you participate. You might also want to include details about what things are recyclable in your community or not. If you have a sensitive food scale, you might consider weighing your plastic as well. A bathroom scale won’t really be accurate because plastic is so light weight.

6) Guilt is unnecessary.

7) There is no time limit for doing this exercise. This is an ongoing challenge.

8) Guilt will only get in the way of understanding. It’s not needed for this challenge.

9) Seriously.


After you have completed the exercise, there are several ways to post your results. First, complete the following questionnaire. Then, choose Option A or Option B.

Show Us Your Plastic Trash Results Questionnaire

1) Week #:
2) Name:
3) List of Recyclable Items (write out in list form and include the recycling # at the bottom and how it gets recycled in your community, as far as you know.)
4) List of Non-recyclable Items
5) Total number of items
6) Total weight of plastic stash (if you are able to do this)
7) Analysis. Answer the following questions as best as you can.

  • What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
  • What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
  • How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
  • What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
  • What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
  • What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
  • What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

8) Personal description (As much of the following information as you feel comfortable sharing — Geographical location, gender, housemate/relationship status, work status (at home or away from home), children living with you, etc. These factors might influence the amount of plastic waste you generate and would be interesting to know, but are completely up to you of course.)

Email me your photo and answers to questions and I’ll post your tally.

Questions? Comments? Can’t wait to get started? Let me know!


After some thought, I've decided to do this in two parts. Part One is now up.

knutty knitter
knutty knitter

I just put it on my blog. My only peeve round here is the limited amount of recycling for plastic. #1 and #2 are it. We have cut heaps out but there is still work to be done :)viv in nz


My husband and I both collected our plastic trash for a week recently, separately, his and hers.The posting instructions are very helpful. Soon!