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About me: I’m 50 plus a few years and live alone in an apartment near downtown in a college town in southeastern Iowa with my little dog and cat. I’ve been trying to cut down on plastic for a couple of years now, but with only a half-assed commitment to it. My town has an acceptable recycling system but, as an apartment resident, I am not eligible for curb-side recycling and my landlord isn’t interested in running one for the building. I’m pretty conscientious about schlepping things over to a nearby commercial recycling center but I confess sometimes I’m too lazy and just throw things away. (Not having a car doesn’t help.)
Clearly, work needs to be done. I’m hoping to do this challenge a few times more and see if I can’t work on it in a more committed way.
The following tally was posted on my blog on May 19, 2009:
* Five big bags that merchandise was shipped in (some wool pillow covers and some clothing)
* Two ink cartridges and plastic wrapper and orange thingies from the replacement cartridges
* Soda bottle cap (which is a stand in for about six others that I managed to lose track of over the week) — the bottles themselves were put in recycling bins.
* Plastic lid to a foil container that some curry came in.
* a piece of saran-type wrap that some bread came wrapped in.
Besides the missing bottle caps, not pictured is a foam plate that some noodles came on (too messy to keep and bring home for photo — I asked for a bowl but they forgot) and two bandaid-like bandages (which I’m still wearing). (Edit: I also forgot about the large garbage bag I filled that week and threw out.)
* What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives? — The plastic utensils. I actually own bamboo utensils, but had misplaced them. I found them and am now carrying them with me.
* What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist? — Hmm. I’m going to try and go cold turkey on the sodas. That may be it from this week’s tally.
* How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare? — None from this week’s haul, really. I bought the curry at a restaurant, which I’m sure would cost less to make at home and certainly be more work. And might not taste as good.
* What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative? — If I have stuffed shipped to me I have little to no control over the amount of plastic. (Local shopping is not satisfying, especially since I don’t have a car — if I can’t buy it downtown (where I can walk t0 and where there is little practical retail unless you’re into alcohol) I tend to order it. I don’t want to buy a car just so I can shop “locally” — which usually means a mall. I can ask for plastic-reduced shipping, but individual items are probably still going to be in plastic. Are they essential? Some maybe are, a lot aren’t. I don’t really see any plastic-free alternatives to the ink cartridge situation. I’m a bit leery of having them refilled; I killed a print head (and consequently a printer) that way.
* What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption? — I’ve already started carrying reusable utensils. While not represented in this tally so much, I do eat out a lot usually, and could ask that take-out stuff be put in my own containers. Or, of course, I could actually cook at home. And it’s probably time to put a moratorium on buying stuff.
* What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week? — The utensils are definitely out this week, and the soda (to cut down on plastic, but mainly at this point because it’s unhealthy crap and I don’t need it).
* What other conclusions, if any, can I draw? — I lucked out this week, this is a relatively light plastic use week. Often I have a lot more. Definitely vigilance and creativity is called for.
Read all posts by: Debbie in Iowa