November 10, 2010

Amanda R., Week 4

Amanda's plastic waste

Name: Amanda

Week: 4

Personal Info:

Read Amanda’s description in her Week 1 post.

Total items: 7

Total weight: 1.8 oz

Items: Recyclable
1 #2 plastic bag that the bedding for my worms came in

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 envelope windows
1 coffee bag from CSA
1 lid from coffee cup
1 seal from molasses bottle

Not pictured:
1 individual cheese slice wrapper
1 plastic cup

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
The coffee cup – I always carry my own mug; almost always

The coffee bag – I hate to choose a different brand, because this is a Zapatista community group, paying fair prices, proceeds go to development projects, etc.

The carrier bag – I probably could’ve emptied the bedding into something else and returned it to the vermiculture people

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
I was traveling this week, so had different things available than usual – could’ve refused cheese on my burger, or declined a beverage in a plastic cup.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Like last week, it’s hard to get jars without plastic safety seals.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I could be firmer about going without when I don’t have non-plastic alternatives available

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
One thing I replaced this week was dish soap – I went and refilled my bottle from the bulk bottle at the food co-op, which is something I’ve never done before.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I’ve had my worms for a week now, and it really does cut down on the garbage in the kitchen – no plastic trash bag discarded this week! (I’m still lining my trash can with plastic, it just isn’t full yet)

4 comments
Amanda R.
Amanda R.

Kate, thanks for the link - that looks really interesting; at the moment, I've gone back to getting bulk coffee from the supermarket, where I can fill the paper bags they have there. But I'll keep the up-cycling in mind!

I did email the coffee company about their bags, but didn't get a response. It's hard to blame them - the prices have fallen and they are struggling to pay their farmers a better-than-living wage for the crop; if they start packaging in a way that either costs them more or causes the product to lose quality in shipping so that customers stop buying, they wouldn't be acting in the interest of their farmers. I still haven't decided quite what I want to do!

Claire, the last molasses I bought was Plantation organic blackstrap; I actually would've gotten Grandma's but they didn't have it where I was shopping. I'll keep it in mind for next time.

Kate Esaia
Kate Esaia

AWESOME!!!

If you use a lot of coffee bags, maybe you would want to 'upcycle' them with TerraCycle: http://www.terracycle.net

You can join their coffee bag brigade and ship them for free. Or maybe there is already a brigade near you that would take your bags (a local school or community group)?

I think they might take your cheese wrapper, too, in their new cheese brigade.

claire
claire

what brand of molasses do you use? I don't know if you only buy organic, but the typical Grandma's Molasses has no plastic seal IF you find the kind with the metal cap (instead of a plastic cap). and that's generally the trick, the short metal caps are the kind that typically have no plastic seal, any plastic cap will have some other kind of seal, and the taller metal caps tend to have the seal as well.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Amanda, your results are amazing. Every week is smaller than the previous week. I admire your commitment.

What is the bedding for your worms? Could you use shredded newspaper instead of buying something special? That's what I've seen people around here do.

I totally understand the dilemma about buying local/organic vs. buying something without plastic. I wish these trade offs didn't exist.

I don't think any of us in our society can be perfect on our own. That's when personal action has to expand to asking companies to change their practices. Could you write to the coffee company about their plastic bags?