August 28, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett, Week 30

week 30

How do you reduce running-related plastic? We just started running races. We did a 10K this weekend and got a plastic bag full of plastic-wrapped food samples and Gu along with our race number.

Location:Berkeley, California, United States

Name: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett

Week: 30

Personal Info:

A couple and a couple of cats.

We’ve been busy this summer, so we haven’t posted our weekly tallies here in a while. We haven’t posted on this Challenge format since week 22, but we have just finished week 30. Rather than posting several posts here, you can check out our blog.

Here’s week 30.

Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett’s personal blog:

Total items: 18

Total weight: 4.3 ounces

Items: Recyclable

Items: Nonrecyclable
three condiment cups
two race swag bags
two stickers from race swag bag
granola bar wrapper from race swag bag
one envelope with bubble wrap and tape (mailed to me, but reused)
one wrapper from canola oil
one insert from canola oil

tube of toothpaste
two forks
one knife
two rubber bands
one broken container lid

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
three condiment cups – We’ve been getting a lot of these from restaurants lately, even when we specifically ask to exclude them. Guess we should be eating out less.

plastic bags – We got these from a 10K race. I don’t know if we HAD to take the bags, but our numbers were in them, and they were prepared for the racers.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
plastic utensils. These have been sitting in our drawer for a while, and we finally decided to chuck them.

cheap plastic containers.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Toothpaste. Actually, I noticed your recent toothpaste blog. I can’t wait to try out some of the options! (Gordon is a little hesitant)

Rubber bands. Sometimes they come on celery and other produce.

Canola oil. We buy it in glass containers, but they have a plastic lid. We use it a lot for baking.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Sports seem to require a lot of plastic, even low-gear sports like running! I accidentally forgot my shoes at the 10K and ran in flip flops/barefoot. I actually liked it. Has anyone here tried barefoot running?

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
condiment cups. Life is getting a little less busy, so we’ll be eating out less.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

You can get them without the suede footbed to avoid animal products. And yes, they ARE plastic, but way less plastic than regular running shoes.

So it's like running in flip flops except they can't fall off your feet.

Becca Ryals
Becca Ryals

Oh, I thought you meant the toe shoes. Do you have a link or brand name for the running sandals? They sound great!

I definitely don't suggest running in flip flops. I only wore them down hill to avoid hard impact with pebbles on the trail. Otherwise, barefoot was way more comfortable than flip flops.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I tried the ones with the toes. Hated them. Hated the feeling of fabric between my toes. I like my toes to feel FREE!

Yes, I used Loved it!

I'm so amazed you could run in flip flops. I think I'd trip. I think it would be hard to run and keep them from falling off. The running sandals have a thong but also tie on to your ankle so they can't come off.

Becca Ryals
Becca Ryals

Thanks! I've run as much as 11 miles without walking so far. (Side note: do you use It's a nice tool for cataloguing and analyzing your runs)

So glad you brought up barefoot running! I actually forgot my shoes when I ran the 10K last weekend, so I ended it up running it half way in my flip flops and half way barefoot. (And I was still the second female finished!). I thought it would hurt, but I loved it! That was my first barefoot running experience, and I am planning to test it out more.

Aside from my newfound interest in barefoot running, I typically wear a pair of sneakers. They are synthetic (i.e. plastic) because I don't buy leather. I'm usually not too picky about my shoes in general. This pair is three years old, at least. They have a little hole on the fabric in the side, but I think they'll last me a while longer. I'll keep the running sandals in mind when I do need a new pair though.

Actually, I have been cursing the running sandals (the ones with the toes). I went to the REI used gear sale a couple weeks ago, and there were SO many pairs of running sandals. They must be relatively new since that fad has just recently took off. I got mad seeing so many because I assume that means there are a lot more people that bought the shoes, don't really use them, and just keep them in their closet or throw them out. That's a different rant. I do agree that they are a great less plastic alternative for running.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Becca, I love that idea! How far have you run so far without walking? And what kind of shoes are you wearing? I actually bought a pair of running sandals to try "barefoot" running. They are not plastic-free, but a lot less plastic. I actually really like running without shoes, but so far I'm not sure how healthy it is for my knees, shins, etc.

Becca Ryals
Becca Ryals

Thanks for all the great tips, Beth! I really do have to get out to Rainbow Grocery again. Berkeley Bowl is just so darn close!

I am planning on running a half marathon in September. I got into running lately because of the plastic challenge. Long story short, I convinced my partner to participate in the plastics challenge and in return I had to start running with him. Not a bad deal. Anyway, my idea for the half marathon is to get 13 of my friends to sponsor me for each of the 13 miles. Each sponsor will pledge to do something to reduce their plastic footprint, and in return I have to run - not walk - the mile that they sponsored. If I walk, then I owe them something - maybe a bamboo utensil travel kit or something. If I run the whole thing, I will pick a sponsor at random to win a prize. That doesn't solve my plastic race swag, but I thought it might be a fun way to get people to think about what they can do to reduce plastic waste.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

If you ever make it in to SF to Rainbow to shop, they have lots of different oils in bulk, including canola oil. They also have grapeseed oil, which I'm going to try for cooking because it has a high smoking point. And coconut oil is great for baking too. You can find it in glass with a metal lid. A brand I like is Artisana. I also just noticed that Dr. Bronner's has started selling coconut oil in glass jars.

I like the Lush Toothy Tabs. They are not perfect -- I mentioned the drawbacks in my post. But I like brushing with them. But soap is probably the least impact if you can stand the taste. A lot of people like it.

I know all about the racing swag. I used to run races too. After I started the no plastic thing, I would just take out the race number (which itself is of course plastic, but I collected them for my scrapbook) and maybe the shirt and hand the rest of the stuff back. I don't know what they do with it, but I felt like I was making a statement that all that unrequested crap was not always wanted. I never wrote to the race organizers, but that would be a good idea too.

Glad to see you back!