January 31, 2011

Dana Blinder, Rodale.com, Week 1

Dana's plastic waste

Name: Dana Blinder

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I’m a digital coordinator for Rodale.com and Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. This month, Rodale.com is going plastic-free!

We’re all taking the challenge, more info here: http://www.rodale.com/plastic-free

I live in Pennsylvania with roommates and work at a very eco-friendly, health conscious company.

Because of this, I like to think I live fairly plastic conscious, but it doesn’t mean my roommates do the same!

Total items: 18

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
3 cups (#1)
2 large cup lids (#1)
1 small cup lid (#1)
2 coffee cup lids (#6)

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 large zip-seal bag
1 piece of saran wrap
1 straw wrapper
1 ice cream wrapper
2 coffee no-spill sticks
2 straws
1 produce bag
1 plastic shopping bag

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
None of the plastic bags are needed, I know this. Convenience and stupidity got the best of me here. I do have good reusable bags at home and want to invest in more!

The delicious pecan bar for sale at my company’s cafeteria wrapped in saran wrap was unavoidable. So was the Starbucks that showed up on my desk thanks to the generosity of a co-worker. However, the fruit cups (in plastic) I normally grab from the cafe in the morning don’t have to come DOUBLE cupped! Shame, shame!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
If I must say goodbye to the yummy cafe baked goods, it wouldn’t ruin my life. I can make my own and bring them in glassware without a problem.

Next time I make the journey to Starbucks, I’ll bring my own mug as well. Hopefully this will cut down on my waste a bit!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
None of these items pictured are ‘essential’ to me. I can do without the ice cream bar and milk box that had a plastic straw or bring in my own alternatives. It’s just not nearly as convenient.

Items not pictured that are essential to me and seem to have no plastic-free alternative would be the furniture, bedding and bathroom gear I purchased this weekend for a new apartment that were all wrapped in so very many layers of plastic. Ugh!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Some more prep work at home. That will cover just about all my food waste.

I noticed ways when moving this weekend that my lifestyle could shift to reduce plastic use here. Buying re-purposed furniture, communicating my desires with furniture companies, and storing my home goods in safe, non-plastic containers. I’m not afraid to admit that Ikea makes me crumble. I needed my own furniture; easy and affordable furniture. Ikea is, in that way, a great solution for me. But all of their packages are wrapped, re-wrapped and wrapped again in plastic, plastic, plastic. It’s not necessary in the slightest!!

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
The bags. This is a simple fix that I can definitely avoid this week!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Going plastic-free takes forethought. No way around it. Much of my plastic waste was accumulated because of convenience, and if I plan my time better, I won’t have to rely on plastic goods!

1 comments
Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Dana. I'm so glad you and the Rodale.com crew are taking the challenge this month! I have lots of comments/suggestions for you.

You're absolutely right that living with less plastic means more planning and prep work. But remembering to bring your own water bottle, mug, and bags is only difficult in the beginning. The more times you remember, the more ingrained the habit becomes.

I see you had one produce bag. I'm wondering if that bag was necessary. Most of our produce can be purchased "naked" without any produce bag at all.

The idea of purchasing secondhand furniture and housewares is a great one. That's a way to not only avoid packaging but also spare the resources used to make brand new furniture in the first place.

I'm not sure what the straw was used for, but do you know about Glass Dharma drinking straws? I carry two sizes with me all the time, along with my reusable bamboo utensils. A glass straw is a great conversation starter.

Oh, by the way -- those milk and juice boxes? Coated with plastic. They are layers of plastic, paper, aluminum, paper, plastic. Some people count them in their tallies and some people don't. It's up to you, but since they can't be recycled most places, it's good to be aware of how they're made.

I'll stop now because I'm sure other readers of this blog will have plenty of other comments/suggestions for you. Cheers!