January 27, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Emily, Week 1

Emily's plastic waste

[A few items are not shown in this photo.]

Name: Emily

Week: 1

Personal Info:
I live in a town of 1200 just outside a small college town of 15000 in coastal northern california. Even though the population is small we have a pretty good eco-groovy culture including 2 natural food stores.

I also have a large garden space that allows for preservation and storage of food, only I wasn’t able to participate in that last summer as I was writing my thesis instead. :(

Total items: 5

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
– Straus half and half cap (#2)
– Straus creamer cap (#2)

Items: Nonrecyclable
– a fishing license
– a kitchen sponge wrapper (even at the coop there were no plastic free sponge package options)
– spaghetti (i planned dinner poorly and had to buy noodles at the local store > didn’t want to drive 10 minutes to buy them in bulk
– guitar string holder

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I know there are options for kitchen sponges other than the ones at the store. I need to research and plan accordingly.
The spegetti was just bad planning. But I did get spegetti in a box with only a small plastic window vs all plastic.
I just wasn’t thinking when I bought the guitar strings. There are other options that i WILL use next time that come in cardboard.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
the fishing license

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
More planning. A redesign of my kitchen to better use jars for bulk items.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
hmmm… I will try giving up yogurt as I attempt to make my very own for the first time.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I feel empowered every time I decide to do without a plastic item. I feel empowered when I find plastic free alternatives to plastic. I feel the empowerment I feel from reducing plastic will empower other aspects of my life as well.

I feel thankful for all those who are trying to reduce plastic in their lives and the inspiration I receive from them when they share their stories and knowledge.

4 comments
emily
emily

Thanks for the helpful tips. I'm going to request that our local Coop carry those Skoy cloths. I like using rags but I'm also wanting to make sure that my partner feels comfortable with the changes I'm making in my life. He's a paper towel guy and I will need to take baby steps before getting him to use only rags. I'm pretty good about saving old shirts and rags for cleaning. Kay, I like your idea about color coding the rags.

Kay Pere
Kay Pere

At our house, I've replaced sponges and paper towels, for the most part, with cotton wash cloths and rags. I use one color (blue striped) wash cloth for washing dishes, another (plain blue or white) for cleaning kitchen surfaces, and a bucket full of old white (gray now) rags torn from old towels and washcloths for other cleaning.

It grossed me out to think of accidentally washing dishes with the same rag I'd used to clean the bathroom, so this avoids that possibility.

I throw the kitchen and dishwashing towels in with other laundry. The dirty-jobs rags and towels get washed separately when I've accumulated enough for a full load or are thrown in with my grubby gardening clothes.

I hang all these up to dry rather than running them through the dryer to further reduce energy consumption.

This approach has reduced our use of disposable paper towels to almost nothing and eliminated Swiffers entirely. I still use sponges with the scubby back and dish scrubbers on tough baked on things or soap scum. When my current stockpile is gone, I'll look for more eco-friendly alternatives. Still, don't mix kitchen and bathroom sponges!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Emily, thanks for taking this challenge. Your low plastic consumption is amazing.

I'm surprised your coop doesn't have plastic-free sponge or scrubber options. My favorite sponge is not a sponge at all. Check out Skoy cloths: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/10/skoy-cloths-theyre-plastic-free-and/ These are what we use for dish washing. They are compostable, last a really, really long time (longer than sponges), can be cleaned over and over again, and don't come in plastic packaging.