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June 2010 Plastic Waste Tally

Posted By Beth Terry On July 5, 2010 @ 1:29 pm In Monthly Results 2010 | 23 Comments

2.8 oz Plastic Waste [1.7 oz new/1.1 oz acquired prior to June 2007]

Beth Terry's June 2010 Plastic Trash Collection by Beth Terry, on Flickr [1]

Happy Summer everybody.

Beth’s June plastic waste collection

Plastic purchased before June 15 2007 and used up in the last month (1.1 oz):

  • Melatonin bottle and cap. I’ve had this bottle since before June of 2007, and it still worked!  I switched to melatonin after my prescription sleeping pills ran out and, wanting to avoid another plastic bottle, I decided not to get them refilled.  Now that the melatonin is gone, I’ve got some other natural sleep remedies to use up (glass bottles with plastic caps) and once those are gone, I’m going to try some teas that were recommended by Facebook friends.  I’ll report back when I figure out what works for me,  and yes, I know all about sleep hygiene, and yes I know that mine sucks, and yes I’m working on it, but also? My problem is more like a sleep phobia, so please don’t tell me I just need to go to bed at the same time every night or exercise or refrain from eating before bedtime because if I don’t stay awake while everyone else is asleep, who will make sure the earth keeps spinning on its axis?
  • Used up ballpoint pen. I mostly use pencils and a Lamy fountain pen [2], but I still find these around the house.

New plastic waste (1.7 oz):

  • Prescription bottle and cap. This is an ongoing prescription that will continue to be included in the tally, probably forever.
  • Plastic seal from a glass jar of Spectrum organic coconut oil.
  • Plastic seal from a glass jar of Berkeley Bowl organic peanut butter.
  • Plastic seal from around the neck of a new CO2 canister for my Penguin soda maker [3]. It’s summer — pretty much the only time of year I crave fizzy water.  The canister itself gets returned to the manufacturer to be refilled.
  • Plastic wrapper and 2 plastic trays from an HP ink cartridge. This is the last new HP cartridge I have, which I’d bought from Staples quite a while back.  I returned the old plastic ink cartridge itself to Cartridge World for refilling. Now, I’ve switched entirely to refilled cartridges from Cartridge World.  Read my post comparing various ink cartridge options [4] here.
  • Plastic molded package from new pair of (plastic) headphones. A couple of weeks ago, I moaned about buying new headphones [5] after my kitty chewed up my last pair.  I tried to find a new set with the least plastic packaging.  And no, I’m not going to use secondhand ear buds.  Eww.
  • Plastic tape and mailing label from new pillow. I didn’t actually order a pillow through the mail.  A natural mattress company sent it to me to try out.  It’s a plastic-free, vegan, memory foam pillow.  I’ll write about it this week.
  • 2 plastic envelope windows.Learn about what plastic envelope windows [6] are made from.
  • Plastic packing tape from book order. I ordered a used copy of the Uncheese Cookbook from an Amazon seller and asked her to send it without plastic packaging.  The book arrived in a plane brown envelope with a little bit of tape.  I try to remember, whenever ordering anything, to request no plastic ahead of time.

I just want to make one comment here about some of the plastic I end up with.  For example, plastic headphones or plastic ink cartridges.  If I were doing an experiment to see if I could live with zero new plastic for a month or a year, I could eliminate a lot more plastic than I actually do.  I would probably live without printing anything once my print cartridge ran out.  I would quit listening to music or audiobooks through headphones.  I’d avoid any glass jars or bottles with plastic seals.  I could give up these things because I’d know the experiment was temporary.

But Fake Plastic Fish is not a temporary experiment.  It’s been my life for the last 3 years, actually.  Living with as little plastic as possible is something I’m trying to sustain indefinitely.  I don’t intend to never use my printer again or listen to my iPod, for example.  Working to reduce our plastic consumption and to get companies to change their packaging doesn’t mean we have to give up everything we love all at once.  It just means we have to make hard decisions about what things are really important to us and what conveniences are ultimately unnecessary.

Giving up everything made from or packaged in plastic all at once is the road to burnout and resentment and guilt.  You do what you can, you realize you as an individual can’t do it alone, and then you start pushing companies and your government to make it easier for you.  But in the meantime, you have to live in this world and do the best you can.  That’s not to say that everyone is off the hook.  No way.  But it also doesn’t mean we all have to practice what Crunchy Chicken once referred to as “hair shirt environmentalism [7].”

Okay,  that’s my spiel for today.  I’d love to find out what plastic items you feel are necessary for you and what conveniences you can and are willing to give up, even if it’s kind of a pain.  There’s a difference.


Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/07/june-2010-plastic-waste-tally/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fakeplasticfish/4764515571/

[2] Lamy fountain pen: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/08/reducing-plastic-waste-in-workplace/

[3] Penguin soda maker: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/07/my-happy-penguin/

[4] various ink cartridge options: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/12/recycle-vs-refill-conversations-with-hp-cartridge-world-silo-ink/

[5] buying new headphones: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/06/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-plastic-free-blogger/

[6] plastic envelope windows: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/04/year-2-week-42-results-05-oz-of-plastic/

[7] hair shirt environmentalism: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/06/no-more-poo/comment-page-1/#comment-2762

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