February 17, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Sara, Week 1

Location:Murrysville, Pennsylvania, United States

Name: Sara

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I’m a single mom with two children ages 5 and 8. I work full time, but telecommute from home 2 days per week. The plastic I collected is for myself and my children, although my children spent 3 nights a week with their dad. We also have a dog and cat.

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

I brought my own bags to the store (when I remembered!).

Total items collected: 30

Total weight: 15.25 oz

Items: Recyclable
2 plastic juice bottles, number 1
3 yogurt containers with lids, number 5
Pecan container with lid, number 1
Strawberry container, number 1
Hummus and pita chips container, numbers 1 and 5
Pasta sauce container, number 4
Pasta container, number 7
Plastic cap, ?
Plastic grocery bags
Plastic bread bags
Parsnips bag

All items except bags are picked up with the trash. Plastic bags are recycled by the grocery store.

Items: Nonrecyclable
Fruit roll up wrapper
Plastic wrap
Plastic wrap for Mochi
Plastic wrap for sauerkraut
Cereal bags
Essence C pouches
Sweet potato bag
Pistachios bag
Pet food bags

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I can buy vegetables without the bags. Ditto for nuts.
I can place leftovers in my Pyrex storage containers, rather than wrapping them in plastic wrap.
I can buy juice in glass containers. The better juices seem to come in glass containers anyway!
I didn’t have any empty milk containers this week, but I can buy milk in glass bottles.
Sauerkraut comes in glass containers too. I will look for those next time.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I bought the hummus and pita chips at work, which I don’t normally do.
I can cut back on the bread. My kids eat it, but I don’t need to!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Not sure if I can give up Mochi, and I’ve only ever seen it in plastic wrap.
I don’t take Essence C often, but it really seems to work!
Cereal. I don’t eat it, but my kids do.
Fruit roll ups, granola bars, etc. My kids don’t a lot of these, but I think it would be hard to cut them out completely.
Pet food bags. I know people make their own pet food. I’m not there yet!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I could cut my plastic consumption significantly if I bought less prepared foods. But that involves more cooking. I do enjoy cooking, but finding the time is tough. It also requires a lot of planning, which is not one of my strengths!
I need to shop at the food co-op which does not pre-bag their produce, and has items in bulk. The trouble is that the store is not close by to where I live. The regular grocery store is much more convenient. I also need to purchase reusable produce bags.
I’m experimenting with the no ‘poo method and oil cleansing method. I’m not loving either yet, but it’s only been a month. I also tried baking soda for deodorant (great idea from this site) and am finding that it works well! Those all will reduce my plastic consumption.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Plastic wrap.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Yikes. I was surprised at the amount of plastic we use. I consider myself to be someone that cares about the environment. I do recycle whatever I can, but the best thing to do is to not consume the plastic in the first place.

By the way, I’m using my iPad and I’m not able to upload the picture I took. It’s not pretty anyway!

5 comments
Eve
Eve

One of the best sources for meals I have found is thestonesoup.com/blog. Her ideas are healthy, simple (5 ingredients or less), quick (15 min.) and she's now including lots of variations to customize or vary for taste & preferences. And you can make any of them plastic-free if you shop the bulk bins!

Helga
Helga

I also make yogurt from scratch since number 5 containers are not recycled in my town. You should be able to find tons of recipes online. It's also cheaper. I wonder what pasta/pasta sauce you're buying in plastic containers (especially the bad plastic number 7) since I buy my sauce in a glass container, and my pasta is usually in a cardboard box. But good luck, going plastic free is tough!

Melissa
Melissa

Hello :)

Somewhere on this site Beth has a link to the kitchen stewardship which has an ebook for sale (cheap) with healthy snacks to go - several granola bars etc. We used to get cereal in bulk, but now we eat a lot of oatmeal. It could be fun for the kids to customize - different fruits or peanut butter, chopped nuts, shredded coconut - sometime I want to try chocolate. Or smoothies! As to bulk bags, can you sew? Maybe you could turn some old shirts into bags. I actually reuse the plastic bag I got sugar in once because it has a resealabls top. I was surprised that a lady at the grocery store did the same thing with several resealable bags!

You might want to check out crunchy Betty's website http://www.crunchybetty.com/a-week-in-the-life-of-crunchy-bettys-face she has recipes for all sorts of cleaners - one day I cleaned my face with just honey and the other with a mixture of ground oats, ground almonds, honey & yogurt. Soo nice. No poo wasn't working for me until I actually measured it & skipped the vinegar rinse.

Planning meals sucks! I love brown minute rice because it is plastic free & quick. If I have that & better than bullion and an egg I've got a quick soup. The kitchen stewardship also has some mske ahead meals. Before I dated the human garbage disposal I cooked enough for a second meal. Maybe cook double & freeze for a future dinner?

Newman's Own pasta sauce is pretty good & in glass. There are some other brands that are on sale often and in glass.

Are there any good pet food brands that come in a paper bag? You could store it in the bag or reuse a tub.

Kristin
Kristin

Welcome Sara! Kids can be tough... they always seem to want the things we don't want them to want! I have a fantastic recipe to make granola bars at home (and it really doesn't take long!)

http://slightlyirritatingandinconvenient.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-favorite-chewy-granola-bars.html

I've found some pretty awesome cloth bulk bin/produce bags on etsy, so that would be my suggestion for finding some that you love. Getting an assortment of sizes helps too!

A few months ago we started meal planning. We have a white board in the kitchen and we sit down on Friday's (we shop on Saturdays) and figure out what we're going to eat for the week. Making a grocery list based on the meal plan, and only one shopping trip during the week saves so much time! I enjoy cooking as well but often find it challenging making the time for it.

This website has a huge support base and we're here to help! I'm excited to see how you do next week :)

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Sara. Welcome to the challenge! (If you can email me the picture directly I can upload it for you.) beth [at] myplasticfreelife [dot] com.

Using less plastic does mean more planning ahead for sure. But many plastic-free meals don't actually take very long to cook. Let us know what kinds of meals you like to eat and I'm sure many people will chime in with suggestions.