June 14, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Ellen Simpson, Week 5

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I am wondering whether there is plastic in two items I have this week. One is butcher paper from Whole Foods. This doesn’t seem to have any plastic in it. I can rip it easily, and I don’t see the thin bit of stretchy plastic that you can see in some plastic-coated paper. I included it in my tally, but I am really thinking there is no plastic in there.

The other item is a Hood buttermilk carton. I really dissected that thing, and again, couldn’t find the thin stretchy layer of plastic. I didn’t include this carton in the plastic tally, because there just didn’t seem to be any plastic.

Location:Salem, Massachusetts, United States

Name: Ellen Simpson

Week: 5

Personal Info:

I live with my boyfriend Paul and my two children, ages 10 and 11, in Salem, MA. Paul and I both work during the day, and my two boys are in school. We have a dog and a cat. This plastic tally is for all four of us. If we had plastic waste from snacks/lunches outside of the house, we brought it home.

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

Total items: 58

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Beer can (last one — now we’re only buying bottles)
Coke can (last one — buying glass bottles now)
Pepsi bottle (was drunk at someone else’s house)
Contact solution bottle (no avoiding this)
Maple syrup bottle (have replaced this with a glass bottle of maple syrup)
3 cat food cans and lids
Condiment cup lid from takeout (I have been reusing these, but this one is missing the cup part)

Items: Nonrecyclable
2 padded envelopes (from used books I ordered online)
seaweed chip packet
Tollhouse chocolate chips bag
Ramen noodle packet and inner spice bag
2 candy wrappers
veggie burger wrapper
butcher paper from Whole Foods (I think this isn’t plastic)
frozen pineapple juice concentrate package (this was the last one)
Plastic baggie (given to Paul by my mother with a snack in it, even after she was told we are avoiding plastic!)
Dog-chewed coozy
5 straws
cilantro tag
carrot tag
CD (contained a software update that we used and now we’re done with it)
used Visa gift card
5 wrist bracelets from 3 events
8 beer and Coke caps (from glass bottles)
molasses cap
Pepsi cap
2 contact lens containers
plastic tube (I have no idea what this is or where it came from — found it in a drawer)
2 soy sauce packets (I had no idea I was going to receive these in my takeout order — I used my own containers but they snuck these in!)
plastic lid
5 random bits of plastic

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The padded envelopes — I can request no plastic the next time I order online.
Tollhouse chocolate chips bag — I can buy these in bulk at a few different places.
Straws — we received three of these at one dinner because I just totally forgot to say no straws!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
seaweed chip packet — I don’t buy these, but my son brought it home.
Frozen pineapple juice concentrate package — I don’t need to buy juice, and if I decide to get it occasionally, I can buy it in glass.
Straws — I will be on the alert!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
CD with software update — this seems like a one-time thing that can’t be avoided.
Wrist bracelets from events — we had to put these on to go in!
Coke caps — this is so much less plastic than a plastic Coke container, so I can live with this at this point.
Contact lens containers for disposable contacts.
Contact solution bottle

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I baked cookies again tonight to avoid cookie packages! Also we’re eating healthier foods because I’m avoiding buying so many packaged foods. I will keep going with the baking and cooking, because it seems pretty essential to avoiding plastic, at least for us.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I have one bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips left, but this week I will stock up on bulk chocolate chips so I don’t have to buy any more after that.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
My kids are enjoying the challenge. We went out for ice cream last night, and my younger son was proud to tell the server that he didn’t need a spoon for his cup of ice cream (I have been carrying some utensils in my purse to avoid having to use plastic).