April 3, 2011

Plastic Challenge: AJ, Week 1

AJ's plastic waste

Name: AJ

Week: 1

Personal Info:
Texas – Female- married – stay at home – and 3 children- Our plastic total is for the whole family.

Total items: 105

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
2 #2 malt mix containers
5 #1 strawberry containers
4 #1 blueberry containers
15 #5 yogurt containers
2 #2 milk containers
1 #1 water bottle
5 #5 bottle tops
1 #1 scoop
1 #4 bagel bag
1 #5 plastic heart
1 #5 clorax container
1 #5 Alieve container
6 packing bags- I take to a shipping store for them to reuse.

City recycle bin and store plastic bag drop off.

Items: Nonrecyclable
8 plastic tags
1 strip of tape from a package received
3 small candy wrappers
1 bagel bag
1 carrot bag
1 cracker bag
1 small plastic bag from dentist office
1 tortilla bag
1 subway plastic bag
1 toothbrush packaging
2 straws
1 mechanical pencil lead packaging
1 cheese wrapper
1 hard candy wrapper
1 to go lid
1 red cherry tomato packing
4 meat packaging
2 yogurt top packaging
5 cereal bags
2 ziplock bags
1 toothpaste tube
6 unidentified plastic objects
1 cornbread package
10 joint juice packs
2 nutrition bar packaging
1 dental floss packaging

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Dentist plastic bag – refuse next time

subway plastic bag- refuse next time

Straws- we have glass straws and forgot to ask for none.

Cereal bags- I just came across a recipe for homemade granola that I have been planning on using. I want to finish the cereal we have first and then I will make my own cereal.

ziplock bags- use reusable bags – we have some on hand – we need to remember to use the reusable.

water bottles – have kids refuse water at sports functions and have them use their own reusable water bottle.

Cornbread packaging- make cornbread from scratch – I had this for a long time finally used it.

nutrition bars- I could make my own.

Clorax container – I am not buying them anymore- I have them left over from two years ago. slowly using them up. we use cloth towels now.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Bagels- i could give up bagels.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Milk- is essential at this point. I do not have a place to buy it in a jar and I am not going to drive 20 miles each way to get to a store that does sell in a jar.

yogurt- my four year old loves it and only loves one brand of yogurt so I am happy with her eating organic greek yogurt.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
refusing – we have to remember to refuse the straws, the water at events, the scoops, refuse candy given to us by friends and refuse bags.

Find an alternative drink to rehydrate my daughter. (joint juice was given to us I didnt buy it.)

Straberries and blueberries – bring my jars to the store and but them in it at the store and refuse the containers. I put them in jars when I get home might as well do it at the store.

toothbrushes- I use wood toothbrushes but my kids refuse to use them so I could look into other types of toothbrushes for them.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Carrot bags- I will buy in bulk instead of prepackaged. However we still have 3 in the frig.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
We eat more convenience foods than I like to admit.

I thought we have cut back in our plastic consumption but we have not done it.

Please help me with the following question/problem:
Yes I would like suggestions from the group not only on items I listed below but on all.
All bread comes in plastic how to avoid it. I made bread homemade for a year and I couldn’t continue to do it.
tortillas – same as bread
bagels-
meat packaging – especially if you buy your meat from a farmers market(local meat) and not a grocery store.

2 comments
aj
aj

I have been researching bakeries in the area and still trying to find alternatives for my bread addictions. I am still trying to figure out what to do about our meat and medicine. My kids have been sick this week and we received plastic medicine dispensers in plastic packaging.

Thanks so much for the toothbrush alternative. Every little bit helps and we are taking baby steps.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi AJ. Have you considered Preserve toothbrushes if your kids won't use wood? They are plastic, yes, but recycled plastic, and you can get them in prepaid mailers to send back to Preserve for further recycling. Of course, it's really "downcycling" but I like that the company takes responsibility for its waste.

Within the next few weeks, I'm going to write up a comparison of various toothbrush options -- after I receive samples to review.

I think you're right that focusing on refusing the unnecessary stuff is the first step. Focus on the low-hanging fruit. It sounds like bread is hard, so maybe wait on that one until you have your other plastic waste problems solved. In my area, I have several bakeries that sell bread in paper bags, so it's not an issue for me.

Thanks for taking the challenge. Looking forward to seeing your progress. :-)