January 27, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Sabrina L, Week 2

Sabrina's plastic waste

Name: Sabrina Lutes and family, 2 adults and 1 2-year old

Week: 2
Personal Info:

See full description in all of Sabrina’s posts.

Total items: 62

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
2 milk jugs
1 vinegar bottlle
2- yogurt containers (these were already in the fridge)
1- coconut oil container
2- bronne soap
7- packing plastic from an iPad doc prepurchased before plastic fast
3 envelope
5 plastic bags
1 meat tray
2 food containers
1 raisin box top
2 milk tops and rings
1 misc plastic lid
2 canned food cans

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 packing plastic
3 Cheese wrappers
1 name tie on c/a veggies
2 yeast packets
2 meat wrappers
1 rice packet
1 food thermometer clam shell
1 spice pack
1 organic veggie tag
4 misc plastics
2 shrimp package plastics
1 cereal bag
1 lid
1 meat package
1 Mylar balloon, ugh it was a Christmas purchase from an aunt
Some not pictured
1 set ear plugs
Ice-cream container

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Going to try and buy more meat in my own containers, torn on this one because we have amazing, local grass fed meats. All sold in plastic. Working on it. I’ve talked to every farmer I know until they are tired of me!
Getting ready to try making yogurt tonight!
Canned foods, talked to my local market tonight and they said I can bring cloth, glass whatever to fill bulk.
We have issued a moratorium on ordering things until we know how it’s packaged, what’s in it, and how it’s shipped
We are getting on the anti junk mail lists and returning solicitations with notes from companies we do business with but don’t want the extra mail

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Most non food items
Mylar balloons
Cereal

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Meat
Dairy, I am in communication with the local cheese people too…searching alternatives

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Weve already begun making bread, I need to organize myself better to be able to shop with my own containers, with an active toddler this could prove comical at best, but I will be implementing this weekend. We’ve been eating lean until then and using up stuff, which accounts for most the plastic load this week. I’ve begun talking to everyone I know, and bugging store owners. May be even starting a petition to my wonderful local food store to stop wrapping the organic produce in cling wrap and compostable containers, if I need 6 potatoes I have to get 3 packages!

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

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
It’s not living plastic free that is hard, it’s our systems that have been set up to make it that way that make it hard! I’ve had to be creative, think about how things would have worked backbefore had so much convenience. you have to get involved with the people at the stores, it’s not just a incognito endeavor of running in, grabbing food and go! That people want to do the right thing, that it is all so overwhelming, and starting is what’s hard!

8 comments
Sabrina
Sabrina

Thanks Molly!

Your words are so needed right now! Just posted my sob story on my week 3. My little boy is just so sensitive. He told me while we were driving, "mama, I saw some trash on the road, I forgot to pick it up.". Your children are at ages now that they are trying to separate from you but at the same time emulate the good you are doing! I love that you try not to pressure them. It's good to see older children doing those things you mention, because they have wonderful role models! I know my boy will be rolling his eyes at me soon. I just want to be sure his sensitive nature is protected. I guess more importantly is to be present to who he is and be there to comfort him as he makes these connections, either because of the changes we are making as a family, or the things done in the world. I know doing thaws things will only help the world he is about to step into.

Molly de Vries
Molly de Vries

Sabrina,

I am just so impressed with your honesty and your kindness. I think you are doing a great job. About your question about the little ones. I have three kids and I am constantly struggling with this one. My kids ages are 15, 10 and 7. I have always been an activist and I truly believe and hope that I'm right that I talk with them about some facts about the world that I know they at least are talking about in school or that I know they can handle. I am so against scare tactics. I have had so many beautiful moments with my kids where they come up with solutions like my 7 year old saying mom a, we should use the bath tub water to flush the toilet. just yesterday my 15 year old that is always finding things wrong with me said" hey mom I am supposed to do a photo documentary for a project for school and I want to do it on plastics." I feel it is so important to honor these solutions and ideas. I feel like it's a way for our kids to be a part of the solution and it relieves some of the stress of the worlds problems. I think our children are so smart and if we would listen carefully we can learn so much.

The meat is tricky as with any thing that is new to someone. There is such a fine line in being kind, asking for help and not coming on too strong. I feel like sometimes you miss and sometimes you get lucky and then some times you just forget. I really find just saying " Im doing this challenge with my family to try to use less plastic, because of the pollutions in our oceans. Some how i don' t seem rude to them when i'm sharing my experience. hey good luck to you and thank you for the inspiration. Sorry about my writing but The computer that I'm on won't let me scroll and spell check. My best to you and your family, Molly

Sabrina
Sabrina

Ahhhhh! Just got back from Fresh Market and oh my! The guy at the meat counter I first encountered said sure, and proceeded to use my containers. THEN the other dudes came out and started SCOLDING me about it. I was told they have regulations against this sort of thing, they don't know how my container was handeled, that they would do it this once but I should never ask them again. I just kept asking them what regulations and asking them to explain why it was a problem. The first guy was nice, and I felt bad thinking he was going to get blasted, he just kept his calm and continued helping me. He asked what I was trying to do, and all I could say is, all this plastic is filling our oceans! Ugh, what a terrible experience. I plan on writing them and speaking to a manager. I just don't want to get the nice guy in trouble. What are the angles those of you with success in this situation have had? Meaning, are there laws against it? Should I have handled it differently? I just assumed trying first and if they said no, then talk to the manager. I am not deterred, but phew, that was exhausting.

Sabrina
Sabrina

I think I had a math error! It looks like closer to 50 items! Not that it matters, it all sucks, but it means I reduced it by half from last week!! Which feels so good! And the other cool thing, is that our goal of turning our trash can into a compost bin is happening sooner than I ever expected! My house looks less cluttered as we use up and don't replace all those food packaging. And my little 2 year old, without ever being told to has begun picking up garbage out in the world, on his own accord. Those littles really do listen. When we had to throw some of that plastic away because it was nonrcyclable he freaked and took it all out and ran it back to the recycling bin. How do you folks deal with your sensitive babies on this matter? I want him to know that there are problems, but that the world really is a lovely place. I don't want this to scar him! we haven't taken things from his hands if he happens to get ahold of it. I may council him not to take a bag when he buys a cookie at the bakery, he does it on his own, which is so cute...:). (there healthy ones for all those horrified moms out there, heh heh). Any suggestions from those mommas that have littles that have done this undertaking? Thanks.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

It's so cute that you call them "littles." That's what we call our kitties, the littles. Because they're little. :-)

Sabrina
Sabrina

Hi Rebecca! Thanks for your advice! I tried your yogurt method last night! I was a little clumsy with it, but it worked. Score! And thank you. The meat person I deal with is all about that great stuff...it's just so hard to transport meat without plastic. I know another argument to give it up, but we tried and ended up sick, I'm a protein type and so is husband and son. We were probably hunters in our lineage. If I could hunt or raise animals myself I would! That would solve tons of issues. Oh yes, everything actually is cling wrapped if it's loose. Bah!

EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)

Hi Sabrina,

I don't eat meat, so I'm not sure I'm exactly the right person to be giving advice in this area, but you might want to check to see if there is an organic or biodynamic farm in your area that does meat shares. One of the farms that I used to belong to raised both goats and lambs, and I've even heard of folks who do beef as well. I don't know the details beyond that, but it might be worth checking out. I also think that if you go to the butcher's counter instead of the pre-packaged stuff you might be able to get them to give you meat in your own container.

And what's up with the potatoes wrapped in cling wrap? That's just crazy!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I love that you are becoming such an activist. Yes, it does require communication to get businesses to change. I'm so glad you are being a pain in their butts. I'm sure you're doing it in a nice way, right? :-)

Let us know how the yogurt-making goes, as well as anything else you try. It's all one big experiment!