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Name: Melissa @ HerGreenLife
I live in St. Louis, MO and am married, no children. I work outside the home. Week #1 was a weird week because I spent the last half of it traveling. (Melissa writes the blog Her Green Life.)
Total items: 14
Total weight: ??
Soy milk lid (#2, I think), accepted in our curbside recycling.
malt sample cup (#6 plastic, not recyclable here)
plastic wrap from sandwich and muffins
plastic seal from hummus container
goat cheese wrapper
cheddar cheese wrapper
carmel apple plastic wrap
plastic gelato spoon
Smartie candy wrapper
soy milk lid
corsage box (I forgot to save the box, hence the flower in the picture)
What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
Lots of the plastic wrap could go — I expected to get a muffin straight out of the case, and the next thing I knew, they handed me something covered in plastic. Ditto with the sandwich. When buying food out (which I don’t do often), I need to be more aware of places that plastic might unnecessarily creep into the picture, as with the plastic wrap and the straw.
The plastic wrapped cheeses seem to be the trade-off we make for buying local. I could go to a deli and buy non-local, conventionally raised cheese without plastic.
We usually make our own hummus, which forgoes the plastic packaging here (the actual hummus container was also plastic trash, but we finished it later, which is why it’s not pictured).
What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
I rarely eat candy — the Smarties and Gobstopper (which wasn’t even good, by the way), are certainly things I can do without — they just looked tempting in the hotel’s candy bowl.
What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I don’t know that I’d say anything in my list was ESSENTIAL, other than perhaps the pen.
What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
More planning when traveling and increased and remembering to specifically request “no plastic.”
What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I’m thinking about looking for alternatives to plastic pens.
What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
In general, I travel prepared; this time was no exception, but there were still surprises.
As I started the challenge, I couldn’t help but notice how we are surrounded by plastic. Even if it’s not trash now, it’s waiting to become plastic trash.
At least until a better solution comes up, have you considered sending your cheese wrappers to TerraCycle for upcycling? They have a new 'Cheese Brigade' and accept all cheese wrappers. You can check it out at their website: http://www.terracycle.net
Beth, thanks for the suggestions. I've written a bit on my blog about the whole dairy issue -- I used to tend more toward vegan than I do now. If it were just me, I would go through very little cheese, but my husband likes it. He did take a container to the Italian grocery for fresh mozzarella this week, and they were happy to use it. I'll try to start switching to pencil, though I guess I may as well work my way through my existing pen stash and try not to acquire any more.
Melissa, thanks for taking the challenge! The cheese issue is a problem, isn't it? I've had the same problem. I don't want to buy non-local, non-organic cheese, which I could get from the deli case plastic-free. A while back, I bought a huge cheese wheel without plastic, and it lasted a long time: http://fakeplasticfish.com/2009/09/cheese-crazy-plastic-free/ But sometimes I slip. There will actually be a plastic cheese wrapper in my November tally. The only one for the year. Mostly, I'm trying to go vegan. But I have moments of weakness like anyone else. As for pens, I try to write with pencils as much as possible and save the pens for signing documents and stuff like that. I do have a refillable fountain pen, which I refill from a bottle of ink: http://fakeplasticfish.com/2007/08/reducing-plastic-waste-in-workplace/