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Name: Corinne and Nils
Throughout this year, my husband, Nils, and I have committed ourselves to 52 Weeks of Impact where each week, we choose a different theme and take action toward “making the world a better place”. Our hope in starting this project was to prove that we can all have a positive impact and still hold down a job, and manage a household, family and relationships. Each week we try to let our followers know our theme for the week and invite them to join us in whatever way they can within their own community.
Many months ago, in my research on eco-friendly living, I’d fallen upon fakeplasticfish.com and we became interested followers with the intention of taking up the challenge at some point. We were delighted when Beth offered to blog for 52 Weeks (See her post, Week 32: Collecting Your Plastic) and happy to take up the fakeplasticfish challenge! You can read more about our week collecting plastic in our post, Week 32: Caught off-guard by plastic.
We currently live in Vienna, Austria but did our plastic collection while on vacation at my sister’s house in the San Francisco Bay Area. We collected for four adults (Nils, myself, my sister and brother-in-law)
Total items: 44
Total weight: unknown
4 plastic clamshells (2x#1, #6 and #7)
2 plastic “compostable” clamshells (“NatureWorks PLA compostable”)
1 toilet paper wrapping
5 plastic grocery bags (#2)
1 ginger candy bag
1 goat cheese container (#5)
1 hot coffee lid (#6)
1 tortellini bag
3 yoghurt cups (#6)
3 Styrofoam cups
1 Styrofoam meat tray
1 plastic fork
4 plastic spoons
1 plastic bag
2 plastic clamshells from gloves and socks
1 Reese’s candy wrapper
1 wrapping for tray of bottled water
2 plastic bags from boxer shorts packaging
2 hooks from boxer shorts packaging
7 misc. plastic packaging bits
What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The plastic clamshells come from produce purchases. We typically don’t buy produce in clamshells. Normally, produce is either loose (so I must use a plastic produce bag) or is packaged on a cardboard tray with plastic covering — slightly less plastic used). If we lived here, I would continue to buy my produce loose, not in clamshells. Recyclable or not, I believe in “reduce” IF possible.
Nils and I almost never use plastic grocery bags, we carry our own. So, deleting plastic bags from our list is a no-brainer.
In the future, we could take our own mug or travel mug to the coffee shop instead of using their paper cups with plastic lids.
What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I’ve grown accustomed to ice cream in a paper cup with a wooden spoon (like the “old days”). I could give up the take out ice cream if it meant always contributing to the plastic/Styrofoam in the world.
Regret buying the packages of boxer shorts for Nils. Not only did we generate plastic, but the quality of the boxers aren’t that great. In the future, we’ll spend a bit more money and buy the boxers individually — better quality, no plastic wrapping.
What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
As far as I can tell, there aren’t any plastic-free alternatives when buying yogurt, and it’s an integral part of our diet. :-(
How can we avoid using plastic produce bags at the store? If I buy a bunch of tomatoes or lemons loose, it seems I have no choice but to group them in a plastic bag.
What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
We’ll have to consider buying more of our groceries at the farmers’ market, where we can take our own reusable containers. This is a rather inconvenient alternative, but NOT out of the question. We WILL consider (at the very least) doing this once a month or so.
What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I opted NOT to go for several extra “snacks” because of lack of plastic alternatives. Bonus: less plastic consumption AND fewer calories. Plastic awareness could also bring needed weight loss :-).
What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
This was a fabulous exercise and has already had an impact on our consumer behavior! Thank you for this. (You can see some of our other conclusions at 52weeksofimpact.org. Any other questions, or something I neglected to include, don’t hesitate to contact me).
While we’re usually accustomed to “making Impact”, fakeplasticfish’s challenge was what made the Impact — on us. While we believe we live fairly eco-conscious lives, this “simple” act of collecting and developing a consciousness of what role plastic plays in our lives was eye-opening. It has changed the way we view things in the stores and we’ve started to make small changes in our consumer behavior.
Bravo Beth for this initiative!
Read all posts by: Corinne and Nils
Re: plastic produce bags at grocery store...you can buy lightweight mesh bags to purchase your produce at the grocery store (or farmers market). They weigh very little, like the plastic produce bags, and they are washable and reusable. I bought mine at Whole Foods, but you can also buy them online. search for mesh produce bags or reusable produce bags. I love mine and keep them in my car so they are always with me when i go grocery shopping.
In reference to the question " How can we avoid using plastic produce bags?", well I just use one of my canvas shopping bags, and make sure to not put too much weight in any one bag. ;^)
"How can we avoid using plastic produce bags at the store? If I buy a bunch of tomatoes or lemons loose, it seems I have no choice but to group them in a plastic bag." You always have a choice ;) I used to be a produce bag junkie... but really you can get around the bags. I have never bought produce bags and haven't taken a plastic produce bag in years now. Here's what I do: http://itstartswithme-danielle.blogspot.com/2009/11/plastic-produce.html Looking forward to checking out your blog!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your commitment to making a difference :)
Great tips! OK, I'm going to try making our own yogurt. A project for a weekend to come. As for the reusable produce bags idea. Inspiration! I'll see if I can get some light-weight cotton netting and make my own. It might freak out my grocery store cashier, but worth a try.
You can make yogurt in a slow cooker if time is an issue. I haven't done it because it makes more yogurt than my family generally eats but might be worth a try if you eat a lot of yogurt. Have you tried reusable produce bags? You can make or buy them out of netting so they are very light and don't effect the weight of the produce you're buying. My grocery store let me use them but I had to let the cahier know what they were. I think I was the first person to use them at that store.
"What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative? As far as I can tell, there aren’t any plastic-free alternatives when buying yogurt, and it’s an integral part of our diet. :-(" You might try making your own yogurt. Just Google it and you will find a ton of recipes. All you need are mason jars and milk. This will reduce some but not all your plastic waste from yogurt. I have yet to do so myself, for now we just stopped buying yogurt all together. We also stopped eating dry cereal which has helped out our plastic waste problem. Instead I make homemade bread in the morning and my girls like butter or my homemade blackberry jam on it. Mmmm Great post!
Hi. Thanks for taking the challenge! Just so you know, yogurt is super easy to make. I blogged a recipe here, but you can find others online. http://fakeplasticfish.com/2007/12/plastic-free-yogurt-well-almost-plus/