August 30, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Ellen Simpson, Week 14

001

Location:Salem, Massachusetts, United States

Name: Ellen Simpson

Week: 9

Personal Info:

See week seven.

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

Total items: 48

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Takeout container (#6)
3 cat food cans
Diet Pepsi can
Shortening container (#1)
Blade hair gel container (#5)

Items: Nonrecyclable
Styrofoam takeout container
4 ice cream containers
Ice cream seal
Ramen noodle packaging
4 butter packets
Square of foam (I don’t know where/what this is from)
2 spice seals
5 bottle caps
Toothpaste container
Black tag holder from new dress
Plastic twine from having two rugs cleaned
Used-up pen
Floss container
2 shoe inserts
2 styrofoam containers (these were in my cabinet and have no lids so I’m throwing them away)
Lid from baking soda
Lid from reusable iced coffee cup that broke
Netflix strip
4 miscellaneous plastic bits
Craisin package
Bag that National Geographic comes in
Bag from pie weights
Bag from financial mailing
Floss bag and seal from new EcoDent floss!
Straw

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Two clamshell takeout containers — first, I just want to say, I don’t live alone in my house, if you see what I’m saying. That having been said, I could be more proactive in reminding others to go prepared with our own containers when getting takeout, or when going out to dinner and bringing home leftovers.
Floss container — I have already bought some EcoDent! I have one more plastic floss to use, then it’s all EcoDent, baby!
Plastic straw — I already have glass straws. I ordered my first drink with no straw, but then later I ordered a water and forgot to say no straw.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Craisin package — this was a sample inside another food product.
Bag from financial mailing — I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t save the mailing itself, so I can ask the company not to send me these!
Bag from National Geographic – when Paul resubscribes, he could go through one of those online magazine services, so he could just read it online.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Shoe inserts — these were from inside my son’s water shoes. They were more comfortable without the inserts.
Netflix strip.
Lid from reusable iced coffee cup that broke — Paul forgot to add the cup itself to the tally, but that got thrown away as well. He used this almost daily for over a year, so it did save many plastic cups from being used. I’m including it as essential because there is no getting around the fact that many things will break eventually. However, it has been replaced with a Kleen Kanteen, so that should last a long time!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Advance planning, mindfulness

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I made homemade pie crusts this weekend! I like to make quiche but the pie crusts you buy at the store come packaged in plastic. This weekend I made a blueberry pie, and also two pie crusts that are now in the freezer waiting for me to make quiche. I did end up with two spice jar seals (glass jars though), a plastic bag that held the pie weights, and a plastic container that held the shortening. The plastic bag and spice jar seals are one-time purchases (or, once in a blue moon, anyway), so it’s just the shortening container that would be a regular purchase. I think I can get lard without plastic, but my older son is a vegetarian, so I have to stick with the vegetable shortening, and I don’t think that’s available without plastic. Even so, it’s a lot less plastic to use the shortening package than to get the pie crusts in plastic.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I usually buy Cetaphil cleanser for my face, because my skin is sensitive. Then, the last time I went to the co-op, I brought an empty container and filled it with a face cleanser for sensitive skin that they had in bulk. I’m using it now, and it’s working well. However, now I’m thinking that it’s been a while (years) since I’ve used regular bar soap for my face, and maybe I should try it. If that works, it will be a big savings in money and plastic!

3 comments
Ellen
Ellen

Hi Beth and Becca,

Thanks for the good suggestions! Between the coconut oil and the Earth Balance shortening, I can definitely avoid the plastic shortening container. And it looks like Whole Food has the Earth Balance, so that's perfect. Thanks again!

Ellen

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Ellen, have you tried cooking with coconut oil? It's solid at room temperature, like lard, and it's my understanding you can use it in place of shortening in recipes. It has a mild flavor. And around here, there are several brands that come in glass jars. Just a thought. I love coconut oil for lots of different purposes, cooking as well as personal care.

Also, regarding face wash: check out this face wash using baking soda and honey: http://nomoredirtylooks.com/2010/09/honey-and-my-new-diy-face-wash/ You can also just use the honey. Or just use the baking soda.

I think I'm going to try it.