January 20, 2011

Danielle, Week 5

Danielle's plastic waste

Name: Danielle

Week: 5

Personal Info:

Read about our family on my Week 1 post. Danielle shares her efforts to protect the planet on her blog “It Starts With Me.” Part of her New Years resolution is to take the challenge every week in 2011.

Total items: 19

Total weight: 4.8 oz

Items: Recyclable
Those numbers don’t mean a thing.

Items: Nonrecyclable
Dental Floss Package
2 contact lens packs
Plastic sleeve (from mailed order)
sock hanger

1 Milk
2 milk caps
2 Gardein packages
1 veggie crumbles package
4 plastic wraps (?) from ice cream
4 rubberband/ties from broccoli

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Milk. I buy in glass bottles (the large caps are from those), but last Monday we were hit with a winter storm (6 inches!!)… leaving me unable to get to my co-op for local milk.

Veggie Crumbles: Use lentils or something else to make Sloppy Joes. (need to find a kid-approved plastic-free substitute)

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I’m willing to give it all up (except my essentials!!)… trying to give it all up and explain it to three kids… it’s not the easiest thing in the world! We’re taking steps… one day… one week… one month at a time. :)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Contacts. (I almost had Lasik done for so many reasons including ditching the plastic waste… but I just couldn’t do it!!)

Gardein. I’m putting this here because my kids love it! I buy it every other week. I’d love for someone to come up with a recipe that was very similar without the plastic packaging. (chickpea cutlets are no bueno with my kids!)

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I’m working on the lifestyle changes…planning ahead, rethinking our meals, and our purchases. Slowly but surely I’m easing our family into a life with less plastic.

From April to December, I get a CSA box once a week. I also have access to Farmers’ Markets during those months… now I can’t find a way to go 100% plastic-free with our produce.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Obviously, I’m not buying milk in the paperboard/plastic container.

Ice cream.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
The snow storm really threw me for a loop! I bought things that I normally don’t buy because I couldn’t get to my co-op.

Also, I’d like to share that even though I strive to go plastic-free with our food… I give myself one meal a week that doesn’t have to be plastic-free. No guilt. (This week we had two, plus ice cream.)

Once again… I’m still happy with where we are because I know where we’re going. :)

5 Responses to “Danielle, Week 5”

  1. Danielle says:

    Rebecca!! Thank you for all of the tips!! You must be reading my mind… I keep thinking about the veggie crumble thing. We have sloppy joes about once a month… I thought about TVP, but everything I read… I’m not sure about going that route. I have only found tempeh in plastic… hmmm….

    guess it’s time to start experimenting (if my kids are game, of course ;))

  2. Rebecca says:

    Guess I should learn how to spell PROTEIN!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I had to give up veggie crumbles due to an allergy, and I tried a number of things to replace them. Here were my results:

    TVP (textured vegetable protien). It has the right texture, but practically no taste at all. This can be overcome if you season it well, and you can usually find it in bulk. However, it is a processed soy product (as are the crumbles) and after reading Michael Pollan I gave up all processed soy.

    Tofu. The trick to making tofu have the right texture is to freeze it, thaw it, and then squeeze out all of the liquid. At that point you can crumble it and brown it like hamburger. Generally you want to use only very minimal marinade before browning or it will soak up the liquid causing too much flavor and mushy texture. It works pretty good as a hamburger substitute, but it’s hard to find in bulk so it can be a plastic problem. Plus it’s still soy, and I’m trying to cut back. http://www.utne.com/2007-07-01/Science-Technology/The-Dark-Side-of-Soy.aspx

    Tempeh. Has a better texture than tofu, and it’s a cultured whole bean product, so it’s healthier than tofu or anything made with soy protien isolate (like crumbles or TVP). It comes in big blocks that you can crumble and brown to a satisfying texture. It has a sort of nutty flavor, but I think it would work well for sloppy joes. Problem is, it generally comes in plastic and I’ve never seen it in bulk.

    Lentils. Well, they work, and they come in bulk, but they certainly don’t have the texture of hamburger. So if you want it to seem like meat, you’re out of luck here.

    Scrambled Eggs. Not sure if you eat eggs or not, but I’ve discovered that scrambled eggs make a wonderful hamburger substitute. I can get locally produced, organic, free range, pasture fed, cruelty free eggs from a local CSA, so they are my hamburger substitute of choice these days.

    Hope this helps, and congratulations on your tiny plastic tally!

  4. Danielle says:

    Definitely. I view this like anything that I’ve done where I’ve made changes. I do them over time… I don’t stress because I realize that change takes time. Given the time to grow with the changes I feel like the changes will be more lasting… especially with my children.

    (which by the way, I forgot to share with you that at Christmas my 4 year old opened a present and said with a scrunched face, “Aww man it’s wrapped in plastic.” :D )

  5. Beth Terry says:

    Danielle, I think it’s good that you are allowing yourself breaks. Trying to go cold turkey, especially with kids, could be a recipe for failure.