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First off, a bit about me for background context: I’m 23 years old and I live in Ann Arbor, MI (college town home to U of M) with my husband. Both of us work full-time away from the home. We just moved here a month ago and have gone from an apartment without any recycling to a house with curbside and an excellent recycling center. I drop off at the recycling center since I bring home recycling from work and it won’t all fit in the curb bin.
This was originally post in my blog on May 26th, 2009.
–2 Mt. Dew bottles: not sure what the # is, but I know they’re recyclable
–Softsoap Hand Soap:It was in the house when we got here.
–1 Sprite bottle: #?, but I know they’re recyclable. conscious–bought for Tim last week
–Starbucks cup: #1 plastic, recyclable. I have many reusable mugs but none of them work very well for Frappucinos. And I do love Frappucinos. Starbucks has a reusable cup and straw for cold drinks, but thats also made of plastic.
–Plastic Cap from Mirin bottle: Recyclable at Aveda Salon
–Spic and Span bottle: bought forever-a-go. Just finished. Plastic #2
–Straw from Starbucks: no straw, no Frappucino.
–Beef Jerky Package: also conscious.
–Corners from 2 skittles bags: where are the bags? Hidden somewhere on Tim’s desk, I think.
–Bag from bike basket: the metal bike basket came packaged in this
–Plastic packaging from new razor: apparently 4 blades are not manly enough for Tim
–Bag for Sub buns
–2 cheese wrappers: these were bought when we had people helping us move.
–Tostitos bag: also bought when we were moving by others
–Plastic cap from soy milk: at least we can recycle Tetrapaks, that soy milk maker scares me.
–Plastic cover for electrical plug: this was covering the plug on our can opener. Surprise plastic.
–Bag used for bagels at Whole Foods: (didn’t have enough reusables with me)
–5 Claritin packages: for Tim’s allergies
–3 markers for flowers: from the flats of flowers I bought a while ago
–Tag from Broccoli: apparently some people can’t tell that its broccoli without the tag.
–Zip-loc bag: I wash and reuse all of them until they get holes in them.
–Plasticky paper strip covering envelope seal from NetFlix
–Tag holders from new rugs
–Orange Juice tab: that little thing that lets you know that no one has “tampered” with your orange juice. Who actually tampers with orange juice?
–Cheezits inner bag: Tim gets these everyday at lunch.
–Frozen cocktail shrimp bag: bought a while ago. Just finished.
–Plastic bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond: sent Tim to BB&B to get those felt things for furniture on hardwood floors and he brought them back in a bag.
Total Weight: 312 grams
* What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
-Plastic bagel bag: I actually worked this one out for groceries this week and brought my reusable bag for them.
-Shrimp, Beef Jerky: from their respective counters at Whole Foods
* 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?
-I could make my own soy milk, but that machine grosses the heck out of me.
-Cheese in ’singles’ wrappers: bought my guests on our moving day for hamburgers. I usually bring my own containers to the deli.
-We don’t really eat a lot of “convenience foods”….
* What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I am not sure if this is a cop-out to this question or not, but one of my answers is the Skittles, Claritin, Cheezits, and sub-buns. It seems dumb and unnecessary, but I think if I took those away from my husband I might become a divorcee very soon after.
* What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
-I’m trying! I could give up pop (note: again) or scour the world to find Mt. Dew still in glass bottles.
* What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
-The ‘fluke’ items will definitely be gone: bag from those darn bagels, bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond when Tim went to buy stuff (and he should know better by now)
* What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Overall, I think I did pretty well. 312 grams is less than one pound (or 11 ounces). We don’t eat a lot of convenience foods, but I still feel like there is a lot of conscious plastic that I can’t really do anything about. Like that little seal in the inside of the orange juice–do I not buy the juice because of that? Or do I not buy things because of that little piece of plastic attaching the price tag?
That’s it for right now. I have another tally to do tonight, so we’ll see how that goes.
Read all posts by: Jessica in Ann Arbor
Hi again, Jessica. Another participant included the seal from the Netflix envelope in her tally, so I decided to check and see what it's actually made from. Here is the response I received from Netflix today:Beth,Good to hear from you. The pull off tab on the Netflix mailer is paper coated with silicone.If you’d like more information about Netflix, please check the Media Center at www.netflix.com or shoot me an email. Thanks.Steve Swasey | Vice President, Corporate Communications | Netflix | 100 Winchester Circle | Los Gatos, CA 95032 | Office: 408/540-3947 | Cell: 925/899-8108 | firstname.lastname@example.orgSo, I guess the question is whether or not to include Silicone as plastic.
Regarding tiny things like the little plastic attaching the price tag or the seal inside the orange juice, my personal decision is not to sweat it. I add little things to my tally to be aware of them, but I'm not going to stop buying clothing forever more because of one tiny piece of plastic. There are much bigger things for us to spend our energy on.That said, I do think it's a good exercise to be aware of all the waste we generate, plastic and otherwise, and to take those things into consideration each time we make a purchase. Not to agonize, but to be mindful of our impact in the world. I truly believe this is how real change happens... from the inside out. Thank you so much for doing the challenge. I look forward to hearing from you again!