June 28, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Marianne Davis, Week 1

Plastic-Free

Location:Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

Name: Marianne Davis

Week: 1

Personal Info:

Married with no children, both fully employed and actively seeking to reduce our waste as we increase our food production in the garden.

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

Coffee cup lid (brought my travel mug to the coffee shop)
Plastic grocery bags at the farmers’ market (we bring canvas bags)
Bottled Water and plastic utensils at a relatives graduation party (went to the kitchen and grabbed stainless steel utensils)

Total items collected: 50

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
4 diet tonic water bottles
1 Simply Orange Juice bottle

Items: Nonrecyclable
Deodorant container
toothbrush wrapper
To-go food container from restaurant
Plastic wrapping for ground lamb bought at farmers’ market
plastic wrapping from feta cheese, locally produced
2 wrappers of packs of Orbit gum
numerous hard candy wrappers
2 sleeves of individual greeting cards
plastic lining/covering of Greek yogurt container
several lids/caps of half and half, milk and heavy whipping cream cartons
2 plastic envelope windows
Not pictured: ten bags that contained 40lbs each of compost for the vegetable garden

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Some of these are “one-offs” – but then the whole point of this exercise for me was to see just how often “one-offs” show up in our trash. The truth is they show up a great deal.

I have made yogurt and cheese in the past, and plan to do so again, but sometimes finding the time is difficult.

I’ll need to talk to my meat suppliers at the farmers’ market to see how I might be able to get meat that’s not already sealed in plastic, but since they sell their meat out of freezers, this might prove to be a challenge. Still, if I can find a supplier of local organic meat that will let me bring my own container, I’ll happily switch.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
My husband and I are at different stages in this whole process. He loves his gin and tonics, and so the diet tonic water is a must in the summer. He’s also the one with the gum and hard candy habits.

I’ve switched from G&Ts to white wine, and don’t mind it a bit. I’m also curious to try Baking Soda as an alternative to both shampoo and deodorant.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
The dairy with the plastic tops on the cartons seems particularly challenging. We buy Organic Valley because they are the most local and most organic of all the options out there.

And in the short term, while we create a lot of our own compost, we still need to supplement our garden with additional materials from local garden suppliers. I know we could in theory buy in bulk from a local provider, but we have concerns about the quality of the materials, whether they contain traces of pesticides, etc.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Switching to baking soda for deodorant, shampoo
eating less meat/dairy

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Yogurt containers

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Summer is a time when we tend to consume more plastic.

3 comments
msdavis6
msdavis6

Beth - good tips! We don't normally keep orange juice in the house, but made an exception because we had a house guest for the week. The greeting cards were free from my mom's copious stash, but yes, normally I do make my own cards. As for the toothbrush - get this: the dental hygienist handed it to me in the office and when I declined it she said "oh but we just used it to clean your bite-plate - so we would have to throw it out." !!! So next time I plan to bring that same brush in for them when they do their semi-annual cleaning.

BethTerry
BethTerry

Welcome to the challenge, Marianne!  It seems like you are already avoiding a lot of plastic packaging in your life, and now it's just a matter of priorities.  Here are just a few suggestions for you: instead of bottled orange juice, why not fresh squeezed from an orange?  It really doesn't take that long.  It can be challenging to find greeting cards without a plastic sleeve.  I like to make my own for that reason.  Also wondering about the toothbrush.  Have you looked into alternatives to traditional plastic toothbrushes?  

BethTerry
BethTerry

 @msdavis6 Awesome idea to bring the toothbrush back with you for them to reuse!