June 6, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Ellen Simpson, Week 4

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Location:Salem, Massachusetts, United States

Name: Ellen Simpson

Week: 4

Personal Info:

See week 1

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

Total items: 43

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
2 Coke cans
4 cat food cans and lids
Glass teriyaki bottle (it has plastic on it, and a plastic lid — the lid can’t be recycled)
Laundry detergent bottle (#2)
Plastic cup (#1)

Items: Nonrecyclable
Ramen noodle package, plus inner spice package
Inner cereal bag
Broken thermometer
Little plastic cup (came with takeout food before I started the challenge, I send snacks to school in these, but this one got squashed)
Plastic wrap (was on cheese in the fridge before the challenge, then I used it to wrap a snack, now it is being tossed)
Soap wrapper
2 plastic knives (I have no recollection of getting these)
2 fruit stickers
Tag from clothing
Bit of a dog-chewed pen

Things used while in NYC for the weekend:
Plastic cup (ordered two drinks, requested paper cups, got one paper and one plastic, didn’t want to then use another paper cup so didn’t say anything)
2 drink lids
2 little plastic cups that held cole slaw when we ordered lunch in a restaurant (everything else was on the ceramic plates — didn’t expect these to come in plastic)
2 tags from a tour of Ground Zero
2 straws
2 snack packs, which include 2 each of: cheese cup, knives, cookie bag, dried fruit bag, cracker wrapper, and bag that held the whole snack pack (see explanation below)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Coke cans — tonight I walked to Howling Wolf Tacqueria, a restaurant near us, and bought four Cokes in glass bottles! They are in the fridge for the next time we want Coke.
Laundry detergent bottle — I will get the cardboard box next time (still have a couple of bottles still, though)
Soap wrapper — no more soap in plastic wrappers!
Outdoor thermometer — they have much nicer ones that aren’t plastic, and probably won’t break as easily!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Little plastic cup from takeout – no more takeout from Passage to India. Paul went to Passage to India tonight, and asked if he could order takeout and have it packaged in paper (like Chinese-food boxes), and they said no, they don’t like to use those, but they took his number in case they make a change. This is the same place that wouldn’t fill my own containers last summer. They have such good food — I hope they change their policy. Paul obviously left without buying dinner.

Inner cereal bag — I have only bought granola since starting the challenge!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
The snack packs. We went to New York for the weekend. We took the train home on Sunday — we were scheduled to depart Penn Station at 1:00pm. We had just eaten lunch, so I was sure we’d be fine without eating again until we arrived at South Station in Boston at 5:30pm. What I didn’t know is that our train would be three hours delayed. We arrived in Boston at 8:30pm. In the meantime, the dining car gave away free snack packs, but we didn’t go get one. However, the nice lady sitting next to us got us each a snack pack unexpectedly when she went to get hers. Paul ate his right away. I was going to resist, but after about 10 minutes of resisting, decided I was too hungry to wait, so I ate it. And it’s a good thing we did eat them, because we would have been even more starving than we were. I really wouldn’t have wanted to go without food with no end in sight! And there was nothing in the dining car that wasn’t in plastic, and we hadn’t brought any food with us. But if it hadn’t been for the snack packs, we only would have had 28 items this week! It bummed me out so much!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I have baked two batches of chocolate chip blondies (like brownies but not chocolate), which have made it so I haven’t had to buy any cookies from the store! I will keep baking snacks so I can keep avoiding plastic-packaged snacks.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I was thinking about trying to find marrow bones (for the dog) not wrapped in plastic, but we have enough of those to last for a while. We’re almost out of soap, so I’ll find some soap that’s not wrapped in plastic. I know this is kind of an easy one, but we do need it.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Well, I’m feeling very encouraged, because, other than the snack packs, we reduced our plastic use by quite a bit this week!

I took a separate photo of the New York trash and it seems I can only post one photo, so I chose the photo of our regular, non-New York trash. Sorry about that!