October 15, 2010

Lena, Ethical Ocean, Week 1

Lena Ethical Ocean plastic waste

Name: Lena

Week: 1

Personal Info:
Urban dwelling, female, lives solo, works full-time for Ethical Ocean (www.ethicalocean.com).

Total items: 27

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Disposable red plastic cups, #6
Coffee cup lids, #6
Baba ghannouj/hummus containers, #1
Juice container, #1

Items: Nonrecyclable
Plastic packages
Plastic bags for produce

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The disposable red drinking cups I use when I have many guests but that just means I’ll have to buy more glasses or I could buy paper cups.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
The disposable red drinking cups.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Food containers like yogurt, baba ghannouj, etc.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
– Do not hold parties at my place where I invite more people than I have drink-ware for.
– Start to not buy products that use excessive, plastic packaging.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
The disposable red drinking cups.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Whether it’s a perception of quality or a guarantee that what we’re buying is “new” (how many people would buy something if they believed it was already opened by someone else?), almost everything is packaged with plastic. It’s difficult to make conscious decisions of avoiding certain types of packaging without viable alternatives presented to us in the marketplace. If I could get organic, plain yogurt that came in an FSC certified paper container, I would buy it but I just don’t have that option.. yet.

6 Responses to “Lena, Ethical Ocean, Week 1”

  1. Natalie says:

    Hi Lena. I really like your conclusion section. I don’t think I had thought about plastic packaging signaling “I am hygienic”, but the second I read it, it rang true to me. There are so many non-liquid things we could easily buy without any packaging at all… so why don’t we?

    I’m happy because I feel like I can contribute one piece of advice to you! Jana mentioned yoghurt, but hummus is really easy to make at home.

    You need chickpeas (from a can with yummy BPA lining, or buy in bulk and cook them yourself), a few cloves of garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Mash the chickpeas with the other ingredients, and add water to change the consistency. I actually end up mashing the chickpeas with a fork, so it takes me about 20 minutes, but with some kind of electric mixer, it would take about two minutes to make. You can experiment with adding different or more ingredients for different flavors too.

  2. Lena says:

    Hi Everyone!

    Thank you for all the feedback! I’ll definitely take these suggestions and try to incorporate them into the upcoming weeks and so forth.

    I’m already doing a lot better in Week 2 as I haven’t had many guests over since – the real challenge will be the next party, likely during Hallowe’en!

    Also, I’m really intrigued about the yogurt in a crockpot. I will have to check it out sometime.

    Thanks again! Let’s see what Week 2 has in store. :)

  3. Jana says:

    Thank you for being part of this challenge and becoming more aware of plastic in your life. An easy answer to the plastic red cups is to simply wash them and reuse them many times. That way, they won’t be part of your trash. When they are finally dead, then dispose of them. When they are gone, replace them with pint size canning jars. They are super tough and can withstand anything. I also use them to store my homemade yogurt. Yogurt can be made in a crockpot and is very simple. Google yogurt in a crockpot to find directions. You will never go back to store bought yogurt again.

  4. Alyssa Lee says:

    Hi, Lena! This right here is definitely my favorite part of the Plastic Challenge – seeing what people have to say! The BYO_ party is pretty new to me and sounds like a great alternative. My house has always had a plethora of cups so I’ve never had this problem, but I would definitely suggest keeping those cups around for any future parties, although they’d be better off holding things like pencils or rubber bands or whatever random things you have laying around. Having people bring their own cups allows them to have their own recognizable cups (so many people forget which cup is theirs and then get a new one – I can’t tell you how much I hate that!) and it’s just not as much as an eyesore. I’m sure the quirky stories would be great too. :) Entertaining would be a great way to communicate to people how easy it is to go about your daily life and make small but big-impact choices for the environment, so I would say if you choose to go for a BYO_ party, invite MORE people! :D

  5. Marissa says:

    I second that! I often ask people to bring their own cup. People love it and actually get very into it and somewhat competitive to see who can bring the most interesting one, yes, we share “where did you get that cup” stories. We’re quirky I know but it works and others are adopting the idea! It’s great for conversation and you really get to know things about your friends you never thought of!

  6. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Lena! I have some suggestions about those drink cups. The first is that you can get very cheap secondhand glasses or mugs at a thrift store. You could get funny mugs that would be a novelty. OR if you don’t want to wash dishes, how about having BYOC (bring your own cup) or BYOG (bring your own glass) or BYODV (bring your own drink vessel) parties. :-) I actually have a friend who does just that. She explains the reason for it and no one minds. I mean, if it’s acceptable to ask people to bring their own alcohol, why not bring their own beverage container?

    Don’t limit the number of people you invite over! I mean, unless you want to.

    By the way, #6 plastic is polystyrene. It’s actually the same polymer as Styrofoam. It just hasn’t been blown into foam. Polystyrene is pretty toxic stuff and it’s actually hard to recycle. So I agree that that’s the area to focus on first.

    Kudos for taking the challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing how you progress!