April 13, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett, Week 9

Becca's & Gordon's plastic waste

Name: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett

Week: 9

Personal Info:

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

Blog: http://becca.posterous.com

Total items: 6

Total weight: 0.71 ounces (not pounds, as I have previously reported)

Items: Recyclable
none

Items: Nonrecyclable
(new)
cap to new 4 L aluminum soy sauce container
packing pillows and packing tape
wrapper from top of banana bunch
label from radishes

(old)
Grocery bag for kitty litter
Floss

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Gordon needed a couple screws for his guitar, which he had to order special from Fender. He also ordered picks made from US surplus wheat rather than restocking with plastic picks. The screws and picks came in their own small plastic pouch (not included in this tally because they are still in use). We expected that, but we did not expect that they would be shipped in such a large box with so much packing material. We may have been able to avoid this by talking to the company first and requesting plastic-free packaging. We’ll try this next time we place an online order. We were excited to find picks made from corn though! Before ordering them online, we asked the local music store if they carried them. The guy looked at us like we were nuts.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
We’re not willing to give up veggies, but we can’t wait to get our spring/summer crops in our small garden. Hopefully, this (combined with more frequent trips to the farmers market) will reduce the plastic waste associated with veggies.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Floss and kitty litter bag (although we will be reusing plastic bags rescued from our work place when we run out of our stash of bags). Beth, have you tried using cotton thread for floss yet? It seems like it might hurt…

Soy sauce – we changed from using a 1 liter plastic bottle with plastic cap to a 4 L aluminum container and plastic cap. The net impact is a reduction of 3 plastic caps and 4 plastic bottles.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
It was a really busy week, but we planned ahead. This seems to be the key to preventing convenient, on-the-go plastic waste.
Planning ahead has been the key to reducing our plastic waste.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
We still have to cancel the Wired subscription, which is delivered in a plastic sleeve.

Question…
We recently discovered Boulder chips, which come in a compostable bag made from wood pulp. What are your thoughts on this? Is it completely compostable?

10 comments
bryals
bryals

I just caught this toothpaste conversation. This is actually my posted question for my most recent post. Unfortunately, I just bought a new plastic tube (eek!) of toothpaste, but I am going to try out some of these recipes.

I'm trying to convince Gordon to try it too, but he feels that he really wants fluoride.

Fonda LaShay
Fonda LaShay

Beth, it is just a ask/read kinda thing. Make sure to read through the ingredients. I have been using a block of pure olive oil soap from a local organic store that is made with 100% olive oil. The workers at my organic store were for sure caught of gard when i walk up with a handful of soaps and asked which did not have glycerin. haha.

I see that Sappo Hill says all the glycerin in their soap is naturally occurring.

I just got a bar of Dr. Bronners mint soap, its ingredients (Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol) do not include glycerin - how ever in oils glycerin is naturally occurring, and this type I have been told is ok. I would suggest to go with a non flavored bar if possible, I wanted to try the mint to see if it gave that 'minty-fresh' feeling, and it did.. but the essential oils kinda gave me a light burn/stinging feeling. I will go back to the olive oil bar probably. But my man is not so up for the olive one, so Ill have him try out the mint (once I finally talk him into it!!).

Fonda LaShay
Fonda LaShay

Beth,

Have you heard of brushing your teeth with just regular bar soap? You have to get no glycerin bar soap (like Dr. Bronners) and then you just swipe your wet toothbrush over the bar a few times - brush as normal. I think it works WONDERS. My teeth have never felt so clean. I feel like I have been to the dentist everyday!

It takes something like 30 washes to remove glycerin from your teeth - glycerin is bad for your teeth because it coats them/sticks to them long after you have brushed your teeth, and while this keeps your teeth from staining it does not allow your enamel to regrow. Strong enamel that is being allowed to regrow is super strong and does not stain. I have been doing this for a few months now, and am recommending it to everyone. My teeth are whiter, I can eat ice cream again since my sensitivity is gone and my mouth feels fresh still after 2 meals + snacks!

Also, it is super easy to get a bar of soap without wrappings or in paper. So no plastic. And pure castile soap is great since there are no chemicals! I'm working on a blog post and will post back when it is done with more details and photos of my teeth whitening.

-Fonda LaShay

Melissa
Melissa

Hey Beth, did you see the toothpaste recipe on reuseit.com? http://www.reuseit.com/take-action/diy-resources/health-and-beauty

I'm going to try that except with cinnamon & clove essential oils and xylitol instead of stevia. For sanitation issues (double dipping toothpaste after a cold or flu is a bad idea) you could put it in a pastry bag with a metal tip. Or, go with the (yes, silicone/plastic) gotoobs they offer.

OR, I hear Dr. Bronner's works for toothpaste.

This is probably too extreme, but I met a guy from India who said they used neem twigs that were frayed at the end which they chewed.

Becca
Becca

The chips are called Boulder Natural Foods. Here is their website: http://www.bouldercanyonfoods.com/products/compostable. It looks like they have compostable and non-compostable bags. We found the compostable bags at Whole Foods and the regular bags at Berkeley Bowl.

Gordon ordered the picks from Amazon (I think) and they come from a company called Wheatware. (http://www.wheatware.com/shop/). The picks themselves are made from surplus wheat and are compostable, but they do come in a small plastic bag and a large box with a lot of plastic bubble packaging. The plastic bubbles could be avoided, but the little bag for the picks is probably unavoidable. As I understand it, the picks eventually wear out or (probably more commonly) get lost around the house. We've been better about making sure we keep track of them.

Thanks for the encouragement, Benne'! We were really proud of ourselves on week 9, but saw a spike in our plastics on week 10 (to be posted soon). We're still learning!

Benne'
Benne'

I play the mandolin so the corn picks is a great idea. Did you order them from Fender? I like the way reported your impact information. I've been thinking about those types of exchanges myself. I'm lucky in that Austin does recycle plastic tops. I have a gazillion of them as they come with my dairy products. I remember as a kid that dairy cartons were all one piece, sometimes causing issues with opening the carton properly. Too bad those haven't come back into production. Great Job!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

What are Boulder chips? Is it a snack? Can you send me a link?

I haven't tried the thread floss yet. I still have a lot of Eco Dent, and I've been putting it off. Okay, I need to get on it, and also find another toothpaste because Tom's just switched to all plastic tubes.

Regarding picks -- can you ever get them used or is that the kind of thing that wears out?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Fonda, I can't wait to read it and see the pictures. Please do post the link when it's up.

So how do you know if soap has glycerin in it or not? I mostly buy unwrapped soaps from Sappo Hill.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Melissa, thanks for the recipe. I have all those ingredients. It wouldn't have occurred to me to use coconut oil. I still wonder how abrasive the baking soda will be. That was why I stopped using it a few years ago. But I'll try it out and see.

I would look into the neem twigs, but I think they are probably packaged in plastic. What do you think?