April 2, 2014

Plastic Challenge: Jennifer, Week 1

I would love ideas for handling cat litter when compostable/flushable litter is way out of our price range.

Location:Lexington, South Carolina, United States

Name: Jennifer

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am a 28 year old, SAHM of a six month old. We make under $25k, and are on WIC, so that limits some of our grocery choices. I picked a terrible week to start this challenge, as my husband injured his leg and couldn’t drive, so the baby and I were driving him around for his job, and basically living out of our car all week. For this challenge, I am only counting things that I used. I know our household numbers would be appalling, as my husband couldn’t care less about cutting back on plastic, At least we cloth diaper the baby, and she’s breastfed so she makes minimal plastic waste.

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

Seven grocery bags, one set of cutlery with package, two cups, one drinking straw, three drink lids

Total items collected: 59

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Lemonade bottle #1 , seltzer bottle #1, milk jug #2, kefir jug #2. I have no idea how my community recycles items.

Items: Nonrecyclable
Repurposed: Six plastic grocery bags, from previous grocery trips, reused for disposing of cat litter (I used a paper bag one day)
To be reused/repurposed: Popcorn bag, bagel bag, bread bag, two restaurant delivery bags: will use for cat litter or other wet garbage
One egg carton – will be returned to friends who have chickens
Clamshell for grocery store pastries, six drink cups, six drinking straws, five drink lids, two coffee stirrers, nine single serve half-and-half containers, two restaurant sauce cups, sandwich pick, plastic wrap from one bar of soap, tab from bread bag, two battery blister packs, two restaurant delivery containers, one garbage bag, two grout containers, two single serve ketchup packages, one plastic cutlery set with package, one ring from whipped topping tub, two clothing tags

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Lemonade bottle->homemade, popcorn bag->bulk popcorn, or popcorn in glass jar (plastic lid), drinking straws-> bring my glass straw with me, coffee stirrers->bring a spoon from home, plastic cutlery->bring cutlery from home, bagel bag->fresh bagels from bakery instead of packaged, grocery store pastries-> homemade or fresh from counter in paper bag instead of prepackaged, Backcountry soap->Pretty Baby soap, kefir->homemade, whipped cream->homemade

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I would love to give up garbage bags, using other small bags for any wet trash that isn’t compostable.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I don’t know of grout or batteries that come in something other than plastic.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
There’s a whole gamut of changes. From simply planning ahead better (bring my cutlery, drinking straw, cup, etc.), and eating from home or sit-down restaurants instead of delivery or fast food, to making my own clothes (even thrift stores use plastic tags) and getting rid of pets since we can’t afford flushable or compostable litter at this stage in our life. I will work on the former. I am not willing to do the latter.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I will bring my Glass Dharma straw with me whenever I go out to cut out plastic drinking straws!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
The modern American lifestyle, always on the go, is a big factor in our use of plastic “convenience” items. We take what is offered without really thinking about it.

4 Responses to “Plastic Challenge: Jennifer, Week 1”

  1. MamaKuma says:

    Alright, this is Jennifer, the OP, I found a biodegradable litter that is the same price as the clay litter we were using. I am in the process of transitioning my kitties to the new litter, and will compost that for use on my horticulturals! Yay!

  2. I use wood shavings pellots.  I got the idea from feline pine but I don’t use it cause it is expensive.  But any wood shavings pellots work.  They use them for rabbit beds and horse beds.  If you have a feed store or some type of barn store nearby you can get it really cheap in bulk.  Though maybe try a little first cause your cats may not like it.  The way it works is the pellots come apart when they get wet, absorbing the oder of the urine and the wetness.  The pellots don’t clump and aren’t really meant to be all flushed down the toilet.  I use tongs to fish out the poo and flush that and if a pellot or two gets in the toilet since it doesn’t clump, its not a big deal.  And after about a month of use all the pellets are gone and it is just saw dust.  I compost that (amazing compost,if you are worried about contaminating your food, just lay the saw dust around trees and other plants not for eating, its the best combo of nitrogen and carbon with all that kitty pee).  The pellots cost me about 30 cents per pound.  They smell nice and the pellots sometime track, but not like other litter, and no dust.  I will say, it is easier if you feed your kitty a good raw or similar diet.  Their poops are so tiny and mostly just calcium, that they both are not smelly and easy to pick up with tongs without making a mess.  I don’t worry about contaminates cause our cats our indoor only and kept super healthy and their raw food is kept frozen for several weeks before feeding to kill what we can.  Plus the compost in our place get heated up really hot I could probably put the poo there with no problems.  You could always just put the litter in a paper bag like the other commenter suggested and throw it out, but I felt bad puting compost in the landfill, but I have lots of options where I live.

  3. Diane W says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I have found that I can scoop solid waste (I am stil using a small plastic bag for that, but would like to find an alternative). But once a week I change the whole litter box. I have found that a paper bag works just fine. I pour it in and  then fold down the top and tie up the whole package with cheap twine, wrapping around the bottom of the bag and tying at the top. Then it goes in the garbage. My next step would be to find snall compostable bags for the solid waste, or start flushing it. 
    Best wishes on your journey!

  4. Maddie says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Growing up my family always used newspaper to dispose of kitty litter and it is what I use as an adult.  I lay out 2-3 sheets of newspaper stacked on top of each other oriented to me in a diamond shape.  I place the sifted waste kinds closer to me on the paper.  I fold the point of the paper over the waste, roll the paper once, fold the right hand corner over and roll once or twice, roll the left hand corner over and roll the rest of the paper package up.  I then place the whole cat waste package in the trash.  It is pretty tidy and I can always find old newspapers to use.  It kinda makes me gag using plastic bags for kitty litter!  I’m with you,  I could never get rid of my cats even if I had to use plastic bags for litter disposal.  I hope this helps!