August 11, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Ellen Simpson, Week 12

054

I have dissected the cartons that my Haagen-Dazs ice cream comes in, and I don’t think there is any plastic in the material of the carton itself (disregarding the lid and the plastic seal inside). I have ripped the cardboard, and all I see is separating paper fibers, no pulling/stretching of plastic. I know people have mentioned that ice cream cartons and milk cartons are lined with plastic, but I’m just not seeing it. Is there a foolproof way to tell whether these cartons are lined with plastic? Thanks!

Location:Salem, Massachusetts, United States

Name: Ellen Simpson

Week: 7

Personal Info:

See week 7

Ellen Simpson’s personal blog: http://www.housebehindtheotherhouses.blogspot.com

Total items: 37

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
4 cat food cans and lids
Hess Express cup (#5)
Milk cap

Items: Nonrecyclable
milk carton
6 ice cream lids and four seals
Taco Bell plastic bag
condiment cup with lid
2 Pop-Tart wrappers
light bulb wrapper
beads
rice instructions
5 bottle caps
dental floss container
strips from two bags
Starbucks gift card
flower tag
green ties from grapevine
switch from lamp

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Light bulb wrapper — this was for a 40-watt bulb…maybe I can find this in paper.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Hess Express cup — Paul got this from someone selling lemonade for a charity, but I would just give money for the charity and not take the lemonade.
Taco Bell plastic bag — Paul asked for a meal to eat in, and didn’t expect it to be in a bag. He did say he refused the plastic cup.
condiment cup with lid — this is from before the challenge. I got these with Indian takeout and saved them to put snacks in for school/camp for my kids. This one finally got crushed.
Pop-Tart wrappers — these were bought before the challenge
Beads — these were in the kids’ camp bags, loose. I did not throw away the plastic bag.
Rice instructions — I kept the instructions for how to make rice from the back of the plastic bag of white rice I bought a long time ago. I kept it even when I moved the rice into a glass jar. Now I’m buying brown rice in bulk. I printed out brown rice instructions on paper.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Starbucks gift card — someone gave this to Paul as a gift
Flower tag — any potted plants you get at a nursery seem to have these.
Green ties from grapevine — I bought my grapevine last year and it has been staked this whole time. I finally was able to unstake it because I have a trellis for it now, and these green ties were what was holding it to the stake.
Switch from lamp — my lamp broke, and the switch fell off. Now we just plug it in and unplug it, rather than using the switch, so it was time for the broken switch to go.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Don’t let Paul go out of the house unsupervised. Just kidding about that. I need to eat less ice cream, but colder weather is coming, and then the need for ice cream will stop!

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I found maple syrup in bulk at the co-op last weekend, thanks to your suggestion, Beth! Also liquid hand soap in bulk! I’m counting those as my items to replace this week. :)

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

2 comments
Ellen
Ellen

Hi Beth, thanks for the information. Ugh, I was hoping for a different answer! But that's good to know, and it means I'll be including ice cream containers in my tally from now on (at least until the weather cools down). I was on vacation last week and didn't save and record my plastic, so I will restart the challenge on Tuesday morning, and submit it the following week. Thanks again! Ellen

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Ellen. Any paper container that holds liquid is lined with plastic even if it's hard to see. If it weren't, the ice cream would leak right through if it stayed out and melted. Googling around, it seems that the plastic is sprayed on thinly, so it wouldn't be something you could really see or peel off. But try filling an ice cream container with water and leaving it out on the counter. Without the plastic, the container would disintegrate.