April 17, 2014

Plastic Challenge: Diane W, Week 1

trash2014-4-13

What do you find to be effective ways to talk to others about reducing plastic waster?

Location:, Minnesota, United States

Name: Diane W

Week: 1

Personal Info:

Teacher, single mom with one teenager. I live in what I call an urban suburb, very close to the city. I buy almost all organic and/or local food. I confess this is not really “week 1″ for me, since I have been trying to eliminate plastic from my life for several months. It is really hard to do, but I am pleased with progress.

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)

Refused a plastic straw at local _organic and natural_ restaurant (!).
Brought my own bags to used bookstore and to grocercy stores.
Re-used paper bags for vegetables, plus one re-used plastic bag.
Went to a different shop to buy cheese that they will cut and wrap in paper.
We went to a coffee shop before an event to avoid drinking from the plastic cups, but walked out without making purchase because they did not have china cups, and we went next door to a bar and ordered soda water in glasses.
Brought my own water bottle to a play to avoid purchasing beverage in plastic.
Bought some items at second-hand shop, so no plastic packaging.

Total items collected: 38

Total weight: Not able to measure.

Items: Recyclable
Household cleaner bottle, sunscreen bottle (not shown in photo)

Items: Nonrecyclable
20 styrofoam peanuts (counted as one itme above) and plastic tape from mail-order item, 7 plastic lids or parts of lids from milk or juice cartons & olive oil, 2 “rubber” bands (which I assume are plastic), two pieces of chewing gum, 2 plastic labels from glass jars, 3 plastic jar-lid protectors, one large plastic produce label, one wrapper from cheese, one wrapper from candy, one potato chip bag, a dozen plastic price tags from second-hand coffee cups, one plastic clothes-tag connector, 3 plastic liners from inside jar lids, one bread-bag closure, 1 baggie from dried fruit, 1 spray nozzle.
Collected ftom my yard and driveway after snow melt (not originating from me and not shown in photo): two chips bags and a shredded blue garbage bag.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Buy non-plastic chewing gum. Buy dried fruit in bulk and use a paper bag or bring a jar. Use existing spray bottles and refill with vinegar or simple soaps.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I am willing to go without any chips. The bag I threw away today was from chips acquired months ago with a meal. We can buy fresh-made corn chips at some local restaurants in paper bags.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
The lids seem to be everywhere! Glass bottles or cardboard containers with plastic lids, or metal lids with plastic liners. The paper cartons seem to have some kind of petroleum or plastic coating.
And it is very hard to find cheese without plastic.
I ordered a compostable toothbrush, and it came in a full-length plastic case!!! So I’m still working on finding the best solution for toothbrushes.
EVen when we refill shampoo and conditioner and buy in bulk, most of these items came packaged in plastic to the store, but bulk buying in re-usable or paper containersdoes reduce plastic use greatly.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I might have to make my own cheese, at least Ricotta. And we can find a deli that sells whole cheeses and split them among friends and family.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I am willing to give up cheese in plastic this week. I don’t know if I can maintain that for very long, but I can do one week!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Plastic is all around and invades our lives, even when we think we am not acquiring any and are trying not to. It is a cultural habit. For example, at the meat counter, when I asked the butcher if the meat I wanted was available wrapped fresh in paper instead of pre-packaged in the plastic wrap and tray, he said no, but he would be happy to unwrap some from the plastic and re-wrap it in paper!!! This shows how little he understood what I was asking, and how much we need to make people aware of what we are trying to do. Little by little, by example and by making a fuss here and there, changes can be made.