November 10, 2010

Sarah Schumm, Week 1

Sarah Schumm's plastic waste

Name: Sarah Schumm

Week: 1

Personal Info:
I’m a surfer, I live a block from the beach and last winter tons and tons of plastic washed up on the beach. I tried to clean it up and I started a video blog about it: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsAngrybutterfly. And started trying to reduce my plastic consumption. When I first started, I lost about 10 pounds, lately I’ve been slacking, and I’m taking the challenge to get back on track.

Total items: 38 in the picture, 42 over all

Total weight: ??

Items: Recyclable

Items: Nonrecyclable
2 prescription bottles
4 plastic silverware
5 little sauce or sample containers
a chip bag
candy bar wrapper
candy wrapper
cookie container
cookie dough tub with its seal
2 plastic meat packages
a plastic wrapper from a case of soda
a plastic bag some dinner rolls came in
a ziplock bag my dog chewed up
a bunch of envelope windows
a cheese package
a bag some power strips came in
milk bottle tops
frosting container from cinnamon rolls

not pictured:
a takeout cup, cover and straw

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
I could bake cookies and bread from scratch or from a bakery, I could get chocolate in foil and paper, I could have looked for power strips not packaged, I could remember my reusable takeout cup and silverware that I usually use, I need to re sign up for automatic bill pay.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
Oh, god, almost all of it! no wonder I lost weight, everything here is junk food!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
prescription bottles

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Stop eating packaged junk food, remember my cup and silverware 100% instead of 80% of the time

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
the soda wrapper, the candy bar wrapper, the hot dog wrapper, and the dinner roll bag were all given to me, so those would be easy but wouldn’t count. I’ll give up packaged cookies.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I eat too much freeking junk food!

3 comments
Natalie
Natalie

I was surprised how many plastic items I ended up with too! Some of theme seemed like "one time only" purchases, but I am willing to bet that I have "one time only" more often than I realize. =/

I actually found it so hard to keep up with my 30-40 pieces of plastic, that I am skipping a few weeks and trying to implement some lifestyle changes before coming back to the challenge. Whew.

Your beach plastic video blog looks really neat. I'm gonna check that out.

Sarah "Angry Butterfly" Schumm
Sarah "Angry Butterfly" Schumm

Thanks, Beth. It's funny, I didn't expect to end up with 43 pieces! I guess you really don't realize how much you really have until you save it. I also didn't realize how much junk food I eat. I'm not sure which I was more surprised by, the plastic or the junk food!

I also realized since posting this that most of my plastic waste comes from things I buy on impulse. I do the bulk of my shopping at the Farmers Market, and its surprisingly easy to eat less junk food that way (I spend about $20 a week on berries) Its when I go to Safeway after work, which is in the middle of the night, that I end up with packaged junk food. Probably if I bought groceries before work instead of after I could cut it in half. I usually run there because I'm out of something and wind up with more than I need, which seems to only happen at night.

I subscribed to Freecycle a long time ago, but don't seem to have the patience to use it. I seem to lack the craigslist/ebay/freecycle gene. I've picked up a lot of my appliances and furniture at thrift stores, though. I had been forgetting to buy power strips, which I wanted to use to make remembering to turn off my chargers easier, for so long that when I was at Ikea for something else I saw them and bought them even though they were in plastic.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Sarah. I'm not going to comment on the junk food because I think you know the solution to that, and it's not an easy one.

Your prescription bottles can be recycled, but not the lids. They are #5 plastic, right? San Francisco takes those. And you can also take them to Whole Foods for the Preserve Gimme5 program, which I think is better than community recycling because they won't get shipped to China.

When I needed power strips, I actually got them via Freecycle. It's a great resource to check first before buying new stuff.

I'm glad you're getting back on track!