January 25, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Erin in B.C., Week 1

Erin's plastic waste

Name: Erin

Week: 1

Personal Info:
We are a family of 5- 2 adults & 3 young children. I, the wife/mother, am at home with the children full time & we homeschool. This log is for the 5 of us together.

Total items: 15, including each sticker

Total weight: 2 oz

Items: Recyclable
#5 plastic container from pesto

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 partial cheese wrapper
2 vegetable labels from the rubber bands
5 or more stickers from apples, tomatoes
2 plastic bags from frozen salmon burger patties
1 label from a glass jar of pickled ginger
1 many times used plastic bag with a hole
2 pieces saran wrap from local raw goat milk supplier, used under the lids

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
We are trying to find a plastic wrapping free cheese source until we can make our own.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
frozen fish, but we can buy fresh, frozen berries

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I was thinking ahead to when we need to buy dishwasher detergent, buying another big plastic bottle…then again the dishwasher needs fixing, maybe we could sell it and go without one.
I was part of a discussion today, we were realizing that the car seats kids use theses days expire after 5 years or so and that by law we have to chuck them after that time. That was a big realization.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Trying to make things for ourselves, going without certain things, growing more food.
We are now committed to baking our own buns and buying fresh fish at the market & bringing our own containers.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
If there is no non plastic bottled cream at the store I will not buy any.
I need a new kitchen scrubbie & usually buy some kind of plastic-y thing that probably doesn’t break down, now I am thinking of better alternatives, maybe knitting a hemp twine scrubbie.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Plastic is everywhere & it is kind of depressing to see how inescapable it is & how we have grown to depend on it.
At a large grocery store this week, from my non plastic point of view, seeing all of the folks still using plastic bags for transporting the goods was shocking. Not to mention carts full of everything in plastic packaging, a plastic bag, double bagged, everything sealed with plastic.
Even in this first week we have become so much more aware, we already chose not to buy quite a few things in packages (I know we weren’t supposed to change only observe but we couldn’t help it).

4 comments
Erin
Erin

Thanks for the tips, I am really trying to cut back in everyway possible. Of course, powdered detergents, I will do that. I'm going to check out the suggested scrubbie options as well. I think hemp would do well too, as opposed to cotton.

Danielle
Danielle

Wow! Wow! Wow!! I am so impressed!! High 5!!!! :D

marie
marie

I just started to crochet my own kitchen scrubbies. I used the cotton cord you can get at stores for $1.50 and made 7 of them (4"x4") from one small skien. For the tough stuff, I just add baking soda while I'm scrubbing. I do want to get a skien of a more rough cord and try that. The great thing about them is that you can wash them over and over in the laundry. Once they get too funky, simply compost them.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Erin, it's amazing that a family of 5 could generate only 2 ounces of plastic waste in a week. Kudos!

It's really disheartening to think about the car seats that expire. Is there no way for them to be refurbished? Must they go to the landfill?

I use coconut coir scrubbers and copper ones for really serious jobs. This is an example of the coconut scrubber. There are also loofah kitchen scrubbers you can find. Check in your local coop or Whole Foods type of store. If you don't find anything locally, Greenfeet.com and other online stores sell them.

Can you switch to powder dish washer detergent? We use 7th Generation or Ecover powdered detergent from a box, not a plastic bottle.