February 10, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Laura in Maine, Week 2

Laura's plastic waste

Name: Laura

Week: 2

Personal Info:
See full description in Laura’s Week 1 Plastic Challenge post.

Total items: 26

Total weight: 10 oz

Items: Recyclable
maple syrup bottle, #2

Items: Nonrecyclable
8 gallon trash bag
mouse trap
fish wrapping- 2 layers of plastic “paper” in a bag
2 bags, Craisins
bag, frozen veggies
bag, string cheese
bag, coffee
Tyvek race number
tuna pouch
tic-tacs box
soup tetrapak
packaging for 2 new pillow cases
dog treats bag
bag, wild rice
broken lid to glass spice jar
2 bags for heat-n-eat Indian food
hard candy wrapper
instant drink mix tub
assorted stickers for fruits and veggies
instant drink mix container
lots of plastic tape for self-sealing pipe insulation
bag, movie candy
seal to peanut butter in glass jar
seal to new spices in glass jars
bag, ice melt crystals

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
coffee has already been replaced with one in paper bags

tic-tacs could be replaced with altoids

dog treats can be purchased in bulk or in a box

maple syrup has already been replaced with a glass bottle

we bought different mouse traps that are still plastic but much smaller (and they work better)

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
instant drink mix, soup in the tetrapak, string cheese (which I didn’t buy but I did eat some of)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
ice melt crystals, again

The trash bag because my partner is not willing to try any of the alternatives like the biodegradable bags because they do not come in 8 gallon size so they would be “too big” and “messy”.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
So many of these things could be purchased in bulk if both of the ‘natural’ stores near me didn’t pre-bag their bulk items in plastic. I may have to make the 45 min. drive to the co-op (which is actually only 20 min. further than I normally drive).

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Soup in the tetra-pak- I can freeze soup when I make it so it’s just as convenient as having it in the cabinet.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I made bread this week and it was kind of fun. It sure disappeared fast! This week I am making dinner rolls. All week it seemed like the plastic was everywhere and all my efforts weren’t making a difference but I actually used a lot fewer items in plastic (26 instead of 44). Again, most of it was food and a lot of that could be purchased in bulk if I drive far enough to get to that store.
I bought brown sugar (in a bag) but I discovered that it is just regular sugar mixed with molasses so next time I can make it myself. That seems so obvious I feel stupid for not knowing it before.

2 comments
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)

My garbage bag solution is even more bizarre. I gather bags of leaves from my neighbors in the fall to use as compost and mulch in my garden. Then I recycle the bags that can be recycled and keep the ones that can't (the black ones) to use for trash on the rare occasions that I need them. I guess that doesn't completely address the "messy" issue, but it works for me and I haven't bought a trash bag in over 10 years.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Laura. Great idea about making your own brown sugar. I've never thought of it!

I can't wait to hear how your trip to the coop works out.

Here's a suggestion about those garbage bags. You wrote in last week's post that you are planning a garden. Are you planning to compost? Composting wet garbage is a great way to reduce the amount you're throwing away and thus reduce your need for plastic garbage bags. We actually don't use any garbage bags at all because after composting the wet stuff, what's left isn't messy enough to need a bag.

Here's the post I wrote on the subject, if you're interested.

http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/02/collecting-garbage-without-plastic-trash-bags/