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June 15, 2010

Tess Giles, Week 1

 

Tess Giles's plastic waste

Name: Tess Giles

Week: 1

Personal Info:
I’m based in the UK, about 50 miles from London in a medium-sized town. I’m a single woman, mid 50s, child-free and live alone, apart from two cats, in a small house with a small garden. I do interim work projects, so sometimes I’m based at home, sometimes work away. We have road-side recycling collection once a week for paper and card, food scraps and garden waste, glass and some (not very many) plastics.

Total items: 26

Total weight: 13.5 oz

Items: Recyclable
One plastic bottle of dishwasher cleaner

Items: Nonrecyclable
Wrapping from a bunch of flowers.
Two small carrier bags I got when I didn’t have my canvas shopper with me.
One carton that had strawberries in it.
One small bag from mozarella cheese.
Two pasta sauce tubs.
Two cakes/desserts containers.
Two cartons from pre-prepared salads.
Two cartons from pre-prepared fruit salad.
Two large yoghurt tubs.
Various sheets of plastic wrapping/bags including bag that had fresh fish in.
Pointy thing from box of dates.
Two band-aid wrappers.
The shrinkwrap from a DVD.

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
All the pre-prepared sauces, salads and cakes, which I tend to buy when I’m busy and/or depressed. Carrier bags.

I could learn to make my own yoghurt. I already have a yoghurt-maker I’ve never used.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
It’s difficult here to buy soft fruits not in plastic tubs. I’d be willing to give them up or find places that sell them direct and not in plastic (although then there’s petrol to consider).

What Items are essential and do not have a plastic alternative?
Band-aids, strangely!

And wrappings for fresh foods like fish and cheese,which I would prefer not to give up but would if I absolutely had to.

And the dishwasher cleaner. I think it’s better use of energy overall to use the dishwasher since I already have one. Perhaps use the cleaner less often.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
What became crystal clear to me looking at this was that a lot of it could be avoided if I were better organised – bought fresh food and made the time to cook it.

Find my collapsible cloth shopper bag and carry it with me always.

Rent or download DVDs, don’t buy them.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Pre-prepared meals.

Are there any other conclusions I can draw?
I was really shocked at the amount. I’ve thought of myself as quite environmentally-friendly, but it seems that I’m far too prone to treat myself “just this once”.

Read all posts by: Tess Giles

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2 comments
celia
celia

I spoke to the Brown Cow people, my favorite brand of yogurt. They provided a number and actually answered the phone, so I like them even more, but their answer to my dilemma about packaging was "It's a safety issue." I said, "I buy olive oil, vinegar, beer, wine, mayo, etc. in glass, why not yogurt?" This is not about safety, it's about the packaging industry that wants to do everything as cheaply (short-term) as possible. A couple days in my fridge, forever in the landfill.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Tess. Thank you so much for taking the challenge. I think collecting our plastic and really taking a look at it is invaluable because it's so easy to kid ourselves into thinking we're using way less than we are. Kind of like eating sweets. Oh, just this time will be okay. But we forget that we told ourselves the same thing the day before and the day before that, right? Regarding the dishwasher cleaner, could you switch to a brand in a cardboard box? We like Ecover. What brands are available where you live? Regarding the other stuff, it seems like you know what to do. As far as remembering to bring bags, I finally just had to carry stuff out of the store in my own two hands a few times and then I never forgot them again. :-)