April 28, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Serena Renner, Week 2


Name: Serena Renner

Week: 2

Location: California, United States

Personal Info:

24-year old female, living with four female housemates in Oakland, California. I work full-time away from home at an office in Walnut Creek, California.

Total items: 33

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
-plastic cup #1
-2 plastic lids #1
-electronics packaging #3
-yogurt tub and lid #5
-small yogurt cup #5
-small-mouth plastic orange juice bottle #2
-milk carton (not pictured)

Items: Nonrecyclable
-coffee cup lids (3)
-straws (2)
-plastic cups (4-not pictured)
-plastic bread/tortilla/pita bread bags (5)
-tofu wrapper
-enchilada sauce can wrapper
-credit card
-tape/ipod adapters for car (2)
-sandwich paper with plastic lining
-gum wrapper
-bandaid wrapper
-saran wrap (3 small pieces)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
cups, lids, straws, saran wrap

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
gum, saran wrap

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
credit cards, electronics

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
traveling, planning dinner parties, and going to events

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

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
It was interesting to discover that nearly all coffee lids are not recyclable in my communities, that I haven’t come across tortillas sold in paper or orange juice sold in glass, and that electronics inevitably keep failing me

Any suggestions for plastic-less tortillas and orange juice for sale?

6 Responses to “Plastic Challenge: Serena Renner, Week 2”

  1. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Benne. I hate to break the bad news, but those “waxed” paper cartons are actually coated with plastic, not wax. They actually haven’t been coated with wax since the 50’s. And the plastic on the cardboard makes them harder to recycle/compost.

    I just stick with eating whole fruit or juicing my own oranges.

  2. Fonda LaShay says:

    @Benne, Awe now! It was the cutest older little Latino lady who had been making them since she was a kid. I am sad it is gone since I still reference it often.

    This one is similar, but looks to make many – so you might want to half the recipe… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfBEY0bvQ7E

    From my memory, here are some of the things the cute little older lady said was important: The water does not have to be boiling, so you can use your hands. Also, once you break the dough into balls (especially is your making whole wheat) they need to rest at least 10+ minutes or they will not work as well. You can easily add to much water and ruin the batch, so better to add it in slowly. A skillet works just fine to cook them on. And she says lard is the best fat to use.

    Good Luck!

  3. Benne' says:

    On orange juice, I’ve been purchasing waxed paper cartons. They have a pull ring but that is less plastic than in a plastic container. I’m trying to find a juicer that is mostly stainless steel and will start making my own.

  4. Benne' says:

    Fonda, I really wanted to see the video on making tortillas. Unfortunately, it has been take down. I’ve been making my own bread as well…as often as I have time.

  5. Fonda LaShay says:

    I have started making my own tortillas. It is shockingly very easy. Here is a video of a cute lady that teaches how it is done. I make a batch of tortillas every tuesday after work for Taco Tuesday. It takes 5 minutes to mix up and 10 to rest (while you do other things) then just rolling them and cooking them which once you get the hang of it is like 7-10 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf5l2L74nnM

  6. Beth Terry says:

    I do have suggestions. :-)

    Electronics — some of these things are necessary, but have you considered looking for them secondhand? CEX on Durant Street has some great used electronics. No packaging and no new products. Here’s my post about the computer I’m using right now:


    Orange juice — I just eat oranges. I feel like they are healthier than juice anyway, since they contain all the fiber. We actually had a whole discussion about juice vs. fruit on this very blog a while back. Here is the post. Read the comments:


    And gum? You know the gum itself is plastic too, right?


    Serena, I hope you’ll do more challenge weeks. And let me know what you find out about Walnut Creek recycling.