January 29, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Rebecca M, Week 2

Rebecca's plastic waste

Name: Rebecca

Week: 2

Personal Info:
Read all about me in my Week 1 Challenge Post.

Total items: 56

Total weight: 12.7 ounces

Items: Recyclable
1 – ibuprofen bottle #2
1 – bottle of enzymatic cat pee cleaner #2
1 – piece of a plastic bag from a brand of cat litter that we haven’t used in years

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 – totally disgusting melted and scorched plastic squirt thing (read the whole gruesome story here: http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2011/01/one-flaming-hot-diva-cup.html)
1 – plastic scrubber used to clean the pot from the above mentioned disaster
1 – tray from a box of chocolates (it was a Christmas gift)
1 – mylar liner from a bag of catfood
1 – backing from some tape that the energy auditors left behind. I’m not actually sure this is plastic, it’s brown paper with some sort of clear shiny coating
1 – pile of plastic packing tape from 6 cases of cat food
1 – plastic clamshell case from some wrenches that I bought several years ago to fix my bike
1 – wrapper from a package of frozen green chilis
1 – plastic door hanger bag in which a pile of other unsolicited plastic crap arrived – oh wait… this is actually recyclable
1 – plastic advertising sticker (see above)
1 – plastic advertising magnet (see above)
1 – plastic clip which I will keep and use, but it’s still junk (see above)
1 – wrapper for the stupid plastic clip
1 – top from a tin of cashews (one of the very few nuts I can eat)
1 – lid from a bottle of ibuprofen
2 – plastic lids from wine and vinegar
1 – plastic spool from thread
1 – wrapper from birth control pills
1 – stupid plastic sleeve from birth control pills
2 – tops of plastic wrappers from cheese & frozen veggies
1 – plastic seal from around the top of a wine bottle
6 – breathe right strips
12 – plastic Q-tips
6 – plastic windows from envelopes
1 – lid from cat pee cleaner
1 – lid cover from cat pee cleaner
6 – produce stickers
1 – end of a piece of plastic tape from a book I sold online.
1 – plastic wrapper from a case of catfood… this isn’t recyclable with the plastic bags is it?

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
cashew lid – I usually buy in bulk, but… well it seems I let the license plates on my car get really out of date (like over a year) so I couldn’t drive until I got it straightened out, hence I had to shop at the neighborhood store instead of Whole Foods

cat litter – we long ago switched to Swheat scoop, but this piece of the bag was in the “junk room” that got cleaned up because I had a home energy audit done.

frozen veggies – I’m trying to use up the stuff in the freezer. Next year I’ll buy fresh green chilis and freeze them myself… or maybe I’ll try to grow some.

clamshell from wrenches – I bought them years ago… the package was in the above mentioned junk room. I think I’ll try to buy tools used from now on if I can… hopefully I won’t need to replace these any time soon.

chocolates – I would never buy these for myself… and if I had to have chocolate I’d buy in bulk or fair trade in cardboard. But how do you ask people not to give you gifts in plastic packaging without seeming like a total jerk?

plastic dish scrubber – they’re just so darned convenient for getting the stuck on stuff off, and cloth dish rags are just so messy. Anybody got any suggestions here?

q-tips – still using up the box of plastic ones. I actually found organic ones online that come in a cardboard box. Woo Hoo!

breath right stips (maybe) – I’m going to investigate reusible insert things as an option.

spool of thread – when did these things become plastic? Didn’t they used to be wood? Can you still get wooden ones? Anybody know where?

plastic tape for selling online – This is soft of a remnant from a business that I used to run, but only do casually now. I could easily use glue to stick down the label, or even just write the address by hand. Thing is, I’ve got a pile of the tape and bubble wrap envelopes. Seems like a greater sin to toss them unused.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
plastic squirty thing – since it’s burned beyond recognition it’s not an issue. I’ll just try to not be an idiot in the future

marketing crap! – But how can I get them not to leave this stuff on my doorknob? Maybe a sign saying “we don’t want your fliers or marketing crap”

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
ibuprofen – I’ve never seen it in a glass bottle, does it exist?

enzymatic cat pee cleaner – we’ve pretty much outgrown the peeing stage, but with feral cats around, it’s pretty much essential to have some of this on hand.

birth control – I think we talked this one to death last week, but I am really disgusted by all of the plastic involved. Maybe I’ll write them a letter… ha! like they’d really listen to me…

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I could make catfood from scratch, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to go there. Believe it or not, it’s not the time or hassle, it’s the idea of buying and handling raw meat. I just need to get over it. I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to go this route for the feral cats due to the risk of predators… we have foxes, racoons, coyotes, and even the occasional bear or mountain lion. So putting out freshly cooked meat seems like a bad idea.

Other than that, I just have to get creative in my shopping and find things not made from plastic (like thread spools and dish scrubbers)

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

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Eeee Gads and Oy Vay! I am shocked and dismayed by the amount of plastic that I have generated. I really didn’t think it would be this bad. I really think these 2 weeks are anomolies, but maybe I’m just kidding myself. Time will tell…

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7 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Rebecca M, Week 2"

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5 years 2 months ago

Hi Anne. I just checked into the Stahlbush biodegradable bag. Sadly, it’s petroleum-based plastic. I just wrote about it today:


5 years 3 months ago

Ha! When you said the “Asian answer” I was picturing sticking a chop stick in my ear! I’ll check out j-list.com.

I just got a half yard of burlap and have great plans to make some home made scrubbies. I’ll let everybody know how it turns out.

5 years 3 months ago

As to ear cleaners, why not check out the Asian answer? In Japan (and other Asian countries I think) they use a small bamboo…tool to clean out their ears. You see them everywhere if you visit. I bought my boyfriend one off j-list.com they work great! Just don’t stick them in too far…I think there is even an ear cleaning fetish.
NEways, I have some natural dish scrubbers from Target. 3M or whatever. Made from agave bits I think. Whole Foods & other places sell loofah type dish & veggie scrubbers.

5 years 3 months ago

Rebecca, Please report back on the cotton swabs – I’ve been looking for that too. Regarding frozen veggies, the Stahlbush brand has a biodegradable bag.

5 years 4 months ago
Hi Beth, Well, I think I’ve found plastic free cotton swabs: http://www.iherb.com/Swisspers-Organic-Essentials-Organic-Cotton-Swabs-180-Count/14991. I guess I won’t know for sure until I buy some. I’m also gonna check out a little local eco-shop and see if they carry anything. The copper scrubbers seem like they’re worth a try. I fear the “fingernails on chalkboard” sound that they might make though… have you noticed anything like that? I was actually thinking that I might try to get some burlap and make something by hand. I’ll let you know. OK… so your scorched pot story made ME laugh out loud! I can’t believe… Read more »
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Rebecca. I found those Swisspers cotton swabs at a local pharmacy in my area, but the cardboard box came wrapped in plastic!

The copper scrubbers don’t give me a “fingers on chalkboard” feeling, but your mileage may vary.

5 years 4 months ago
Rebecca, First: OMG YOU FOUND COTTON SWABS IN A PLASTIC-FREE BOX???!!!??? Please share. I have been looking for something like that forever. Okay now… I’m so sad for your Diva Cup and squirter, but your post made me laugh out loud. I can’t put anything on the stove without setting the timer because I WILL forget about it. That’s not even a question anymore. Here’s my own burned plastic story: /2009/03/sweet-smell-of-burning-plastic/ For scrubbing, I use baking soda and copper scrubbers that come in a cardboard box. Zero plastic. http://www.choreboyscrubbers.com/Products/Ultimate%20Scrubbers%20Pure%20Copper.aspx As for the tape and bubble wrap envelopes, you could use… Read more »