September 20, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Alice Martel, Week 1

Plastic Challenge Week 1

Suggestions on vegetarian products, snacks (bought and easy to make at home), cat products… for now. I’ll see as the weeks go.

Location:Hull, Quebec, Canada

Name: Alice Martel

Week: 1

Personal Info:

Woman, 33, vegetarian, dark green when it comes to the environment, I work as a dishwasher in a hotel that is becoming greener every day – very happy about that! :) … been with my boyfriend for 8 years, living together, 7. Website/Links: , Twitter:!/ayleesha

Alice Martel’s personal blog:

Total items: 44

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
– V8 Bottle: I have 3 left, I think (#1)
– Source Yogurt Container and lid (both #5)
– Fruitsation Applesauce container: I have 12 left – had bought them for when I went camping in August (#7). I usually buy the big glass containers
– Meow Mix wet cat food cup: When done with them, switching to tin cans (#5)
– Bento Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl: My boyfriend bought me this and forgot about my plastic challenge (#7) – next time I will let him eat it.
– Small Natura soymilk container (does that contain plastic?) – had bought this for camping, have some left – will keep them for on-the-go.
– Maybe a cottage cheese container? We have a cafeteria at work and salad bar and
the cottage cheese came from there (1/4 cup twice)

Items: Nonrecyclable

– V8 bottle cap and ring
– Arm & Hammer Toothpaste tube
– Cracker bags (President’s Choice)
– 3 Quaker Yogurt Bars wrappers. My boyfriend bought them. I see them, I eat them.. ugh.
– Nutri-Grain Bar wrapper. Diddo.
– Tissue box plastic film – Don’t think I can do hankies.
– 2 Crunchie Bar wrappers (they were my boyfriend’s and I was baaaad)
– Mr. Noodles packaging (only had the noodles, not the seasoning)
– Tubes (yogurt) wrappers
– Piece of glad wrap (or whatever it’s called) – from work in the cafeteria, covering at piece of cheesecake. Mmmm. Ok, think of other thoughts!
– 2 small Kraft peanut butter containers – I decided to bring my own peanut butter in a reusable container now.
– 8 small Becel margarine containers (I have brought my own containers with my own Becel butter from home when I saw how much waste I created).
– Plastic wrap/tape on the Bento Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl & the lid (#6)
– McDonald lid (#6). It was my boyfriend’s – I had a sip
– Soymilk container’s straw and wrapper.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
– V8: Cans instead of bottles
– Cat food in tin cans
– Toothpaste in metal tubes (which is what I had before, I ran out of my Tom’s of Main toothpaste, and my boyfriend gave my his almost done tube because he wanted to try a new one).
– Applesauce in glass jars

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
– Yogurt: Try to make my own
– Butter: Try to make my own… I think I’m going to love this one
– Peanut: Diddo, maybe. I have a glass jar at home (not done yet) but the lid is non-recyclable plastic
– Try to make my own nut milks (I made some before – it was good, had bought some kind of bag where you can strain the nut who’ve been soaking, and one time it was hanging over the sink off of a cupboard handle and while I was at work, the sewage got backed up and it spewed all over my bag and the counter – not pretty – haven’t found another bag like that – haven’t looked all that hard – was a little discouraged by what had happened. Gonna look for another soon!!
– Make more of my meals at home, instead of prepared foods
– Stop eating my boyfriend’s snacks!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Not sure yet

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Try a lot of the tips on the Plastic-Free Guide

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
When I run out of the stuff I have, V8 bottles, for starters… plus a lot of other stuff.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Oh my God, us humans waste so much!

14 Responses to “Plastic Challenge: Alice Martel, Week 1”

  1. Alice says:

    Juicer: Awesome idea… I have one and used to make my juices all the time. I will definitely start again.

    Smoothies: Also made smoothies all the time too. Fruits, veggies, oatmeal, grains/seeds, etc. When my boyfriend would peel cucumbers or potatoes (he hates the peels), I would ask him to keep the peels for me and I would had them to my mix.

    Hankies: Thanks for the links Beth! Will looks at them when I have time – so many things to do! :)

    Veggies burgers: When I will have the time, I will look into making my own veggie meat for burgers – as a treat. Maybe hotdogs too later on (lil more complicated I think).

    Protein: Yeah, people get too much protein. I noticed I even get too much protein as a vegetarian. Eating, normal everyday stuff can mean getting a lot of protein.

    I have tried veganism. I found it hard. I love making vegan recipes, but I like eggs once in a while, also cheese (LOVE cheese), and honey.

  2. Pheas says:

    If your health-food store has a deli, you might find some minimally processed and packaged “meat substitutes,” such as bean cakes or seasoned tofu made on site. Yum.

  3. Margaret says:

    For environmental (besides plastic) and health reasons, I’d recommend not looking into “meat substitutes”.

    (1) They’re all in plastic, and very processed. There are studies that show that processed vegetarian products are the same or less environmentally friendly in terms of using resources as organic (non-factory-farm) animal products – e.g., water and energy for production and packaging.

    (2) Whole foods (nuts, beans, whole grains) will provide plenty of protein. I’ve read a lot of things that say most Americans get at least twice as much protein as they need, and your body uses calcium to process excess protein – so it leaches it from your bones to get what it needs which is why people on the standard American diet have more osteoperosis.

    Maybe making your own veggie burgers using beans would be a good option, but not anything store bought along those lines.

    (I’m vegetarian – lacto-ovo for several years, currently mostly lacto, and trying to go vegan, at least when i eat at home.)

  4. Pheas says:

    Re: protein, we get legumes and nuts from the bulk bins. Cook up a big batch of bean soup, lentil stew, red beans and rice, or whatever, then freeze some and have some for the next few days. Good idea on snacks from the bulk bins!

    I think maybe the previous poster meant get a *juicer* instead of V8? I tend to think it’s better (healthwise and waste-wise) to eat the whole fruit or vegetable, so I do smoothies and only have juice as a special treat. I just use a regular blender.

    Hankies just go in the wash with everything else. Unless someone is sick, they’re barely dirty. It’s mostly water from the sniffling caused by the wretched Florida pollen. I highly recommend ladies’ antique hankies. Men’s and some of the newer women’s ones are just too thick and rough, IMO.

    Daria, we use bags we couldn’t avoid, such as the ones from bread or shirts. We’re not as plastic-free as Beth, but we never get grocery bags anymore. You can also pinch them from the recycle bin at your grocery store, or ask friends for theirs. Other options, untried by me, could be newspaper or cardboard, though that would be harder to carry for a distance, I would think.

  5. LuAnn says:

    Hi Alice, I’m still in the wannabe stage, so I applaud your start and look forward to your progress!

  6. Daria says:

    My husband and I have a question: what’s the alternative to the plastic bag for picking up after the pooch on our walks? Suggestions?

  7. Alice says:

    Thanks Pheas!

    Yeah, popcorn, that is how I am planning on buying it next time…. Mmmm… gonna go make some popcorn now, with a bit of olive oil! Yum! In the last plastic tub I will ever have!

    I guess I can try hankies at home and at work out of sight of others (I know I will get weird looks, some people already think I am nuts, LOL). Do you wash them snot and all? Or rinse before?

    Veggies and nuts, etc. I already eat as snacks, and after a while of too much of those, I have it up to here… sometimes I need a sweet or salty snack… I gotta find green alternatives! Oooh! Snacks from bulk bins in my own jar isn’t a bad idea!

  8. meeshel says:

    I highly suggest making your own butter, especially if you have access to fresh cream that you can get in glass bottles that can be returned when they are empty. It’s easier than you think – the first time I did it, I wrote about it here: if you wanna check it out.

    Remember, do what you feel comfortable doing for now, and then do more once that is easy!

    Good luck.

  9. Alice says:

    Thanks for the tips Lori! Some questions:

    1. How is parchment paper green? What can I do with it after I use it?

    2. I will try to convince my boyfriend about the snacks, but ha! it’s gone be a tough one!

    3. Buy a juice what instead of V8?

  10. Pheas says:

    For crunchy snacks, try veggies (carrots, celery, radishes). They keep well in a jar in the fridge. Or nuts. I mix up walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds for a nutrient-dense snack. Popcorn (from the bulk bin in my own jar) is also good.

    Don’t knock hankies without trying. I’ve been using them for years and couldn’t go back to flimsy, soggy tissues now (though I make a rare exception for severe colds when sneezing and blowing outpaces laundry). I find beautiful embroidered and lace-edged hankies for cheap at antique stores.

  11. Alice says:

    Oooh… Lush Toothy Tabs, I might try that! They have a store in Ottawa, ON not far from me (Hull, QC).

    Is a peanut grinder the same as coffee grinder? Because I have that. I’ve never used it for coffee, only grains and seeds. So, grind peanuts and it becomes a paste?

    As for vegetarian stuff, I don’t have problems with veggies, although I welcome tips and ideas, but I meant like veggie burgers, dogs, etc, like anything with protein because I don’t eat meat. But I do eat eggs and some diary products.

    As soon as I find metal ice cube trays (are they recyclable?), I will sell my plastic ones (If my boyfriend lets me!)

    I made a list, that is growing everyday, of things to buy/make when I run out of the stuff I have, (safety razor, stainless steel containers, Casabella 100% latex gloves, natural scrubbers (I think I have one already somewhere), fruit and veggies bags (I want to try and reuse fabric I have), etc.

    I put a soap bar next to the hand soap dispenser. I doubt my boyfriend will like the soap bar and think he will continue using the hand soap, and it won’t disappear as fast (I also added a bit of water, so there is a little more and works just as well) as I will only be using the soap bar – but – they are soaps my dad’s girlfriend didn’t want anymore (they are wrapped individually and all in a plastic packaging – at least they didn’t get wasted!), but as soon as they are done, I am only buying the biodegradable soaps not in packaging at all, at my health food store – which I have already done in the past (the kind of soap I bring with me when camping).

  12. Lori Whitefield says:

    My suggestions-

    read Fast Food Nation
    stop eating fast food
    parchment paper or eco lunch pouches instead of the plastic wrap
    find your boyfriend a new snack food, maybe make granola bars together!
    buy a juice, get rid of the gross and unhealthy v8

  13. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Alice. Welcome to the challenge! I have some ideas and comments for you, and most likely other participants will too. :-)

    First, you may want to rethink switching to metal cans and toothpaste tubes. Yes, they are more recyclable than most plastics. But they are lined with BPA, which is a hormone-disruptor, so they may be even less healthy than other kinds of plastic containers.

    Here are a few other toothpaste ideas:

    I like your ideas for making your own snacks, nut milks, etc. Maybe focus in those areas first? Does your local Whole Foods or health food store have a peanut grinder? You could grind your own peanut butter in a reused jar.

    Yes, those soy milk boxes are lined inside and out with plastic, and they are difficult to recycle.

    Our solution for cat food is to make our own. But it does take time and energy. Lucky for me, Michael does it.

    I’m sure Danielle will have fast veggie ideas for you, since she is a vegetarian with kids!

    Looking forward to seeing what you discover as you go through the process. :-)