February 11, 2011

Kyla, Week 1

Kyla's plastic waste

Name: Kyla

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am a Canadian student working part-time and living in Glasgow, UK with my partner who is also a student.

Total items: 17

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
milk jugs (2)

– recycling is not made very easy in Glasgow, not all blocks are within easy access of recycling. I can walk a few blocks to put it into a bin.

Items: Nonrecyclable
-1 styrofoam take out container
-1 plastic bag
-1 lemon holder (netting)
-1 salad wrapper
-2 cereal bags
-1 mushroom container
-1 banana wrapper
-2 ink cartridge holders
-1 lint roller sheet
-1 chilli wrapper
-1 window from letter
-1 carrot wrapper*
-1 apple package*

* these items say that the packaging is degradable: “packaging will degrade harmlessly in 2-5 years, ultimately leaving H20 and C02 in negligible quantities. The speed of degradation will vary depending on the conditions of the disposal site”

– I am a bit suspicious of this and have no idea if this means this “degradable” would degrade as it says within a landfill environment. Does anyone know anything about this?

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The take-out containers and plastic bag are very easily replaceable with containers and reusable bags from home.

The lint roller is completely crap and could be replaced easily

Normally, I would say that replacing the fruit and vegetable packaging would be easy. When I lived in Canada I would always be able to get fruits/veggies “naked” However, I have found that grocery stores here wrap all their fruits/vegetables, even things with natural coverings like turnips! very frustrating! this may be more of a challenge.

The cereal wrap is easily replaceable by eating oatmeal which comes in cardboard with no plastic

The milk jugs I am not sure if there is a replacement here, but will check it out.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
take-out containers,
cereal (though not entirely)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
None of these items seem essential!-
except food! which should be available without plastic. Also, I’ve never seen ink cartridge containers wrapped in anything different

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
-I could eat more oatmeal which would reduce my consumption of both milk and dry cereal (that has the packaging)

-I could easily refuse plastic bags for takeout and bring my own containers

-I could try to find a farmers market for fruits and vegetables. I know there are some on the weekends somewhere, will have to do some research on that.

-really I should find out why the grocery stores pack all fruits and vegetables in plastic and see if there is any way to change it.

-Also the plastic from this week definitely does not represent all the plastic items I use, so I can do my research to try to get alternatives for these other items

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
-I’ll start eating oatmeal for breakfast
-I do not need to use the lint roller!

-next weekend I will attempt to find the farmers markets.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Most of the plastic waste we created this week and most weeks it seems comes from food packaging for fruits and vegetables, which is a shame since in Canada we never had this problem.

Please help!
Would like to compare notes with anyone in the UK having the same issues. Does anyone know if there are plastic free alternatives to milk jugs here? Also what is the best way to approach asking for changes in packaging at supermarkets?

3 comments
Kat
Kat

Hi Kyla

When I lived in Glasgow I shopped at a little fruit and veggie market that didn't wrap anything. It was called roots and fruits. Don't know where you live but this shop is on the west end (great Western RD) there must be more shops like this around! Also milk in glass bottles? maybe you can find that too.

Atleast all that oatmeal will make Scotland more authentic! Good luck.

PS have any little old ladies called you hen yet?

Helen Crittenden
Helen Crittenden

Have you tried finding local street markets. You can usually buy naked veg in those, just take a cloth bag with you.

Most UK cities still have doorstep milk deliveries - glass milk bottles are returnable and reused. The only drawback is you have to be around when the delivery takes place (otherwise it might be nicked off your doorstep or go off in the sun, even in Glasgow). Alternatively buy dried milk and make it up by the pint - more likely to be otainable in cardboard packaging, or at least use less plastic.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Kyla. Your degradable packaging is probably made from petroleum-based plastic with an additive that makes it break down in a landfill. I have concerns about this kind of plastic because it still comes from petroleum and also because the companies that make these products do not disclose what additives they put in the plastic, so consumers have no way to really know if they're safe.

I look forward to learning more about your discoveries as you research what resources are available where you live. I don't really have suggestions for you because it sounds like you're already on the right track!