September 5, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Margaret, Week 9

IMG_2242

Well, how to reduce harm from plastic waste – how should I dispose of a broken postage scale?

Location:Tualatin, Oregon, United States

Name: Margaret

Week: 9

Personal Info:

I live in an apartment with my cat. We’re in a metropolitan area outside the city, that’s not really suburbia, but not really urban.

Margaret’s personal blog:

Total items: 30

Total weight: 19 ounces

Items: Recyclable
*2 molded plastic pieces from rechargeable batteries and charger packaging
*Package for screw hooks (to make a necklace holder with a framed mirror from Goodwill)
*Molded packaging from Misto olive oil sprayer – the idea is to be able to make stir fry without setting off the smoke alarm. It was in a cardboard box, with the front open, no plastic window or anything. I didn’t realize until I opened it that it was being held in place inside the box with this molded plastic.

Items: Nonrecyclable
*5 lint roller sheets
*Broken postage scale
*Sticker closing box for new scale
*Plastic piece underneath the battery for new scale
*Plastic film covering display on new scale
*Mylar tea bag wrapper
*Cheese packet from Annie’s mac & cheese *
*Wrapping around neck of new glass ketchup bottle – replacing a plastic bottle used up (which will be in next week’s tally since I forgot to put it in this week’s)
*3 pieces shrink wrap from textbooks – tax books get updated every several years, but in the meantime laws are rapidly changing, so they provide a supplemental volume with highlights of the changes until the next edition. Both the main book and the supplement were wrapped in plastic individually, and then wrapped in a package together.
*Bag from packaging of new scale – inside the cardboard box, the scale was inside this bag (but held in place by molded cardboard).
*Another packaging bag from something
*4 string cheese wrappers
*Seal under lid of spreadable cheese – for a game night. I made hummus, which I’ve never made before, so I bought this at the last minute as a backup in case the hummus sucked. But it turned out unnecessary, as the hummus was well received.
*Package from frozen spring rolls
*Twist tie from carrots in produce box
*Lid from olive oil glass bottle – I normally don’t include metal lids, even though they all contain at least a small ring of plastic inside. But this one was more plastic than metal, due to the pouring spout.
*Pop Chips bag

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The rechargeable batteries is to avoid future plastic packaging (and batteries). I chose the one that only had enough plastic to cover and attach the battery and charger to the cardboard backing, instead of covering the entire cardboard backing as well.

I need to decide on a lint remover in the next couple weeks before I use up the lint roller.

Tea bag – will buy bulk when I use up what I have.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Chips. I actually made some good bread chips last week, and I’m getting a lot of potatoes in my produce box so I should try making some chips with those as well when I have time.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Textbooks. I should contact the campus book store, at least, maybe if enough people complain to them they’ll push back on the manufacturers. I’m in a masters program, so it’s as easy to get used books as it was in undergrad, especially because a lot of the books are produced in-house by current or past professors there.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Sometimes it seems like trying to make my lifestyle more sustainable overall requires a lot of consumption in the short terms. For example, packaging from olive oil sprayer, packaging from a high-power blender that will be in next week’s tally. Learning how to cook is frustrating enough without having good tools.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Chips. String cheese.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?