March 7, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Pat Clancy, Week 5

I keep learning here about more things that are plastic that I wasn’t aware of before, so the number of items in my tally goes up instead of down in spite of changes being made. What can I do about mail that comes in window envelopes? I have one plastic magazine sleeve this week from the Art Institute of Chicago. I don’t plan to renew that membership. I also started counting sticky labels from fruit and the seal strips from Netflix movies. I am buying fruit loose instead of prepackaged in bags, so now I have more sticky labels! Farmers market is not open yet in my area.

Location:Lisle, Illinois, United States

Name: Pat Clancy

Week: 5

Personal Info:

I am a retired woman, have one adult son living with me. We each do our own shopping though we share meals quite often. I have had an organic garden since I lived here and also landscape with native plants. I compost kitchen waste.

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

Plastic grocery bags. I had oral surgery, and the dental assistant gave me a new toothbrush to prep my mouth before surgery. I wrapped it in a paper towel and brought it home to use again and again. It’s a nice toothbrush. I was planning to buy a new Preserve toothbrush but this “gift” makes it unnecessary for a while.

Total items collected: 44

Total weight: 6 oz.

Items: Recyclable
Yogurt tub #5 and lid #2
water cup from Panera #1
Bolthouse Farms juice bottle #1 and cap (caps are collectable in our curbside recycling though they have no number)
Newspaper bag

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 Magazine wrapper (Art Institute)
6 teabag covers (Numi, says they are made from 72% recycled material. The inside of the bag is slick like plastic and I can see a foil layer between that and the paper)
1 cap from olive oil, metal with plastic parts
12 Dr. Weil vitamin packets
2 wine corks
1 tear-off strip from Miso soup package
1 cap from Tetra Pak of soup
1 Kleenex box insert
2 tape-&-seal strip from Netflix
1 dog treat bag
1 celery bag (I recycle these with other plastic from grocery store but I’m not sure if it’s acceptable)
3 window envelopes
7 fruit labels

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
No more Numi tea unless I am able to verify what the packaging is made of
Will not renew Art Institute membership; haven’t made time to visit this year.
My latest olive oil purchase has a cork instead of a cap
Consider cancelling Dr. Weil’s vitamin program
Buy wine with real corks
Make more homemade soups. I still have a lot in the cupboard to use up.
Use hankies
My latest dog treat purchase is in a cardboard box. Still using up old ones.
Buy produce loose instead of prepackaged (see note about sticky labels!)

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Netflix – the sealing strip is a very small item and I enjoy this resource for entertainment.
Sticky labels on fruit. They are a lot smaller than a bag. When there is no farmer’s market, there seems no other alternative.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Toothbrush. I will buy Preserve which can be mailed back to company. See the note above about my oral surgery. Also, my son stocked up on fruit smoothies and yogurt for my recovery period, so my resolve to start making my own yogurt and switch to juice in glass bottles will be delayed while I enjoy his gifts.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
More careful shopping. Visit more than one store. Get off mailing lists.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Plastic wine corks. I will make note of brands that use plastic and not buy them. I was glad to learn about this; I was under the mistaken impression that using real corks was endangering the cork trees. NOT TRUE!! Thanks, Beth.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
This site is Conciousness Raising 101. I am becoming so much more aware of my personal impact on the plastic trash pollution of our environment.

3 comments
Beth Terry
Beth Terry

My advice is to make sure you save the label for when you contact companies to remove you from list because they may ask you for some codes that will help them find and delete your subscription. Another tip: When I give money to an organization, I ask right off the bat for them not to add me to their paper mailing list (I tell them email is okay) and then if they do send me mail, I call them or write them immediately to be removed. And if they keep on doing it (I'm talking to you, Planned Parenthood) then I don't give to them anymore and tell them why.

Pat Clancy
Pat Clancy

Whew! I don't have to count Netflix tear strips. Yay! I subscribe to Catalog Choice but am not aware that they deal with all mail, just catalogs. My envelopes were from ACLU, Art Institute and another that I can't recall. I will have to contact them individually, I'm afraid. If you have information to share about this, I'm listening.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Pat. I'm excited to tell you that my blog post going up tomorrow will help you find wines with natural corks! Stay tuned...

Also, a while back I contacted Netflix about the tear strip and was told it's paper coated with silicone, not plastic. So it's up to you if you want to count it or not. Silicone is a polymer based on silicon (found in sand) rather than carbon (found in fossil fuels.) However, to make silicone, hydrocarbons derived from fossil sources have to be added. So it's kind of a special hybrid. Anyway, just thought you might like even more info. :-)

Catalog Choice is a good resource for getting off mailing lists: https://www.catalogchoice.org/

And I just make a habit every week of calling or emailing companies to take me off their paper mailing lists. I get very little paper mail anymore, but there still are things I can't avoid.