February 11, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Jane Schneider, Week 1

Jane's plastic waste

Name: Jane Schneider

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I’m a housewife and artist/craftsperson in Colorado, and I take care of my father-in-law at home along with an assortment of pets.

Total items: 17

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Bottle from hair conditioner, two pill bottles.

Items: Nonrecyclable
A Craisins bag
A cereal box liner
*Plastic packaging tape
Hefty bag that had frozen hamburger
Nestles Crunch bar wrapper
Two produce bags
*Cheese wrapper
Jolly Time popcorn bag
Fruit cups
Crisco Sticks wrappers
*Blister pack from felt tip pen
*Mouthwash bottle protective plastic band
Pill bottle protective plastic band
Saran wrap

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Craisins were a gift, I can buy them in bulk next time along with cereal, chocolate and popcorn. Fruit also comes in glass jars. Hamburger can be frozen in freezer paper instead of plastic and I now use re-useable produce bags.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Cottage cheese – I haven’t seen it in anything except plastic containers so I’ve stopped buying it. Frozen dinners are something I have kept on hand for Grandpa but don’t plan to buy any more.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Milk chocolate chips and packaging tape and mouthwash. I could use hydrogen peroxide for a mouthwash but it also comes in plastic bottles. Bulk chocolate chips are semi-sweet only and I have a Christmas recipe that requires milk chocolate. Plastic for long-term storage of baked goods like bread; Colorado is so dry I can’t leave the bread I make in my bread machine out unwrapped.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I may decide to quit getting my hair permed. Then I could probably use home made hair products.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

Please help:
Help in learning to make liquid soap would be much appreciated, and ideas on long term storage for some food items for when glass isn’t a good alternative. I’m keeping cubes of frozen buttermilk and yogurt in the freezer so I can make sour cream and more yogurt but I don’t see a practical replacement for plastic containers here. There are glass ones that can be frozen but they’re very expensive. And is there something besides plastic bottles that can be used to store home made shampoo and liquid soap?

5 comments
Jane Schneider
Jane Schneider

Rebecca,thank you for the tips on hair care! I have well water (Live out on the plains) and it is very hard. I ordered a bar of shampoo and will try the clarifying before I use it.

I had some minor success t the grocery store today: to avoid the plastic bag deli lunchmeat was going to be put in I took a glass container (plastic lid but non-disposable at least)and a piece of wax paper. Small town folks are really very nice and the deli clerk didn't mind weighing the sliced ham on the wax paper then putting it all in the box and slapping the tag on the top. She said it was a strange request but they aim to please so what the hey :-) I was delighted and plan to do it again :-)

I opened a box of Seventh Generation laundry powder today which I purchased because it came in a nice cardboard box. What's inside? A plastic scoop. This really is a battle. Even at Whole Foods where they sell cloth produce and bulk food bags they stock tons of items in the plastic clam shell boxes. It's disappointing. I find myself buying things I don't really need because of the nice re-useable container they come in. Bought cornstarch because it came in a can. Pirouette cookies come in the nicest canister that could be repainted .. too bad I shouldn't eat the cookies...

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I keep my baking soda and acv solutions in repurposed plastic sports bottles too. We already had them and weren't going to drink out of them anymore.

EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)

Hi Jane,

I gave up shampoo over 2 years ago and I'll never go back! My hair is WAY softer and more manageable than it was before. Plus, no more spending a fortune on hair care.

I use a weak baking soda solution to wash and citric acid to rinse. (both mixed at about 2 tablespoons powder to 500 ml water).

Anyhow, if you do decide to try "no poo," or any sort of soap-based shampoo bar, I have a few words of advice.

1) If you've used any products that contain silicone (anything ending in "cone", "zane" or "xane" you should stop using them and do a clarifying wash before you go to either baking soda or a soap-based shampoo. The silicones are used to coat the hair shaft, which they do nicely, but they also prevent the natural oils from soaking into the hair, so your hair gets greasy quicker than it other wise would. They're also hard to wash out with baking soda or soap based shampoo (hence the clarifying wash).

2) I'm in Colorado too, and we have really hard water. The hard water doesn't do a very good job or rinsing clean either the baking soda or soap based cleaners. So you need to do some sort of acid rinse. Most people use apple cider vinegar, but I couldn't stand the smell, so I use citric acid. I've also heard of people using ascorbic acid (vitamin c). I used lemon juice for a while which worked and smelled great. It can bleach and redden your hair though (not a problem for me since I'm strawberry blonde). My issue with lemon juice was that it has to be kept in the fridge and I'd ALWAYS forget to get it before I went to wash my hair, so I'd end up running through the house soaking wet to retrieve it from the fridge.

In terms of bottles... I'm afraid mine is stored in plastic water bottles salvaged from the recycling where I used to work. I'd be afraid to have glass in the tub... maybe some sort of metal canister? Good Luck!

Jane
Jane

Hi Beth, the bread box looks good and I'll go look for one. I'll also look into the solid shampoo bars, i don't think I could do without shampoo of some kind.

Going to read your liquid soap story now. You are an inspiration, Beth, and I am so grateful for all you do!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Jane!

Have you considered trying a bread box for your bread? I have this one:

http://www.target.com/Bread-Box/dp/B0014ZR0W6

Yes, it's from target and probably made in China. But it works really, really well and I plan to keep it forever. You can find them used, too. My breadbox keeps the bread in perfect condition. It doesn't dry out and it also doesn't mold. I put the bread in there in paper or cloth bags and it works great.

Liquid soap -- all I can provide is a funny story:

http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/12/liquid-soap-fail-what-am-i-doin-wrong/

But check the comments on that post for some recipe ideas.

Regarding shampoo, have you considered using solid shampoo/conditioner bars instead of liquid? Or trying "No 'Poo" method?

http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/06/no-more-poo/