March 20, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett, Week 4

Becca's & Gordon's plastic waste

Name: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett

Week: 4

Personal Info:

Read Becca and Gordon’s full description in their Week 1 Challenge post.

Total items: 54

Total weight: 0.10 pounds

Items: Recyclable
none

Items: Nonrecyclable
(new)
– Straws from bar (4)
– Cilantro label
– Balsalmic vinegar wrapper
– Envelope windows (3)
– Produce stickers (4)
– Wrapper around new disposable pepper grinder
(old)
– Disposable pepper grinder top
– Quarters wrapper
– Energy bar wrappers (2)
– Wrapper to magazine
– Tofurkey wrapper
– Floss
– Miscellaneous plastic wrapper found in apartment

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Straws!!! We’ve learned how to ask for no straws at restaurants, but we completely forgot at the bar until we were we four straws deep. How embarrassing! To be completely honest, when I saw your TED talk and started following your blog, I thought the emphasis on the glass straw was silly. I thought “no one really needs a straw to drink from a cup.” But, I have resolved to get a couple straws for us. Besides being a great conversation started, I bet it would help us to remember to request for a plastic free drink. The recent suite of ideas about how to ask for no plastic was really helpful, but we have to remember to ask first. Most of the new plastic we’ve produced have been due to our own lack of awareness. We are still learning ☺
– We bought balsalmic vinegar as the store was closing and were a bit rushed. They all seemed to have a plastic wrapping around the lid. The next day, we learned of a butcher in town that sells bulk olive oil and vinegar in glass bottles with corks.
– We also bought a new disposable pepper grinder made of glass with a big hunk of plastic for the lid and grinder. I (Becca) suggested that we get a big glass or wooden pepper mill and refill it with bulk peppercorns. Gordon, however, wanted pepper that night and snuck it into our groceries without me knowing, which means we’ll have more plastic waste once our new disposable pepper grinder is spent. (arg!) Another consequence of not planning ahead and shopping within minutes of closing time.
– Of the old plastics (those acquired before we started the plastics challenge), most are easily replaceable or avoidable. We’ve given up pre-packaged meat alternatives entirely and enjoying more fresh veggies, grains, and homemade seitan. Yum!
– Floss. Just saw your April 2010 post on dental care, and we’ll be switching our floss when this case runs out.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
We’ve given up pre-packaged meat alternatives and energy bars.
– Gordon’s subscription to Wired. Well, as long as I can convince him.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
– We haven’t looked into the quarter wrapper situation yet, and we have a few more rolls to get through.
– Some of our mail has plastic windows on the envelopes. We have already called Discover, Southwest, and Comcast to ask them to communicate only through email. We had been getting a ton of mail for the people who used to live in our apartment, so we finally put up a sign “Becca and Gordon only please,” which seems to be working. Hopefully we’ve at least reduced our plastic window waste through these measures.
– Produce stickers and labels. We try to shop at the farmers market often but aren’t always good about remembering to get everything we need. Berkeley Bowl is just a couple blocks away which makes it super convenient.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
– Think before you [order the] drink. We never realized how many straws we actually use.
– We started a blog to share our plastics challenge with friends and family. It is http://becca.posterous.com/
– We’ve also been posting things to facebook, and talking about it non-stop.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
STRAWS!

2 comments
Becca Ryals
Becca Ryals

We got one glass straw to test it out. It's awesome! We haven't acquired another plastic straw since then. We'll probably get another so that we both have one.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi guys. A friend of mine told me she's been using plain cotton thread as dental floss. I haven't tried it yet, but I've got a bunch of wooden spools of thread from my grandmother, and I might see if it works.

You're funny about those straws. Will be interested to hear how the reusable ones work out for you.