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Name: Crissy Trask
I live in Washington. I’m married with no kids. I work from home and cook almost all my meals from whole foods, so I have a bit of a head start when it comes to avoiding plastic, but as we all know, cutting it out entirely is not easy! I’m a green writer, speaker and consultant, so I know how to avoid many types of plastic, but practicing what I preach isn’t always so easy. Accepting a certain amount of plastic in the long term is unavoidable, but for one month, I think I can do it!
Total items: 7
One milk carton comprised of 15% plastic. These are recyclable in many areas, but it’s the paper, not the plastic that is being recovered.
One low-moisture mozzarella wrapper.
Two beer caps–they have a plastic lining!
One salami wrapper.
One frozen food bag.
One plastic line chip bag.
What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Milk carton: To avoid the plastic these cartons contain, I’ll need to spend significantly more to purchase milk in reusable glass—which I don’t normally buy because it is not local.
Low-moisture mozzarella: It’s fairly easy to buy cheese in bulk and have it wrapped in paper to avoid plastic packaging. But the only mozzarella available in bulk at my grocer is the high-moisture, semi-soft variety—not what I prefer on my pizza. Hmmm…maybe I’ll learn to love it this month!
Beer: Plastic in beer bottles? Yes, if you count the plastic that lines the bottle cap, and you really have to. Thankfully, discovering this tiny bit of plastic won’t put beer off-limits: my grocer stocks many craft beers in cans!
[Note from Beth: Cans are all lined with plastic, too, so best to stick to the small amount in a bottle cap.]
What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Corn chips: That rather innocent looking paper bag with the cellophane window is actually completely lined with plastic (frown). I could make corn chips from tortillas, but those also come in plastic! It’s make chips from scratch or go without.
Salami: This was a rare (and poorly timed!) purchase. I rarely eat meat, and I eat even less processed meat items, so how did this salami wrapper get here? My husband picked the salami up on a whim because he thought it would travel well in our pack and make a good lunch item when we are backcountry skiing. I went along with it, but this will be an easy item to avoid.
Frozen peppers: Having run out of all the peppers I’d frozen last summer, I bought these with some hesitation. Fresh peppers, while available, are not in season where I live. This means that those in stores are expensive and were shipped from far away. I know better than to make non-seasonal produce a part of winter meals, but with grocers—even organic grocers—stocking everything from tomatoes to asparagus to peppers this time of year—availability sometimes clouds my judgment. I’ll say goodbye to peppers for now.
What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Didn’t run into this problem this week, but I know it’s coming!
What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Avoiding plastic more often requires slowing down a bit. I don’t always have to make a purchase decision in the instant when I am at the store. If I don’t like my packaging options for dental floss or ketchup or anything else, I give myself time to try and find a plastic-free alternative.
What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I’m given up replacing 55 yd. plastic cases of dental floss every month or so. I found a 200 yd. spool of floss packaged in paper and I can re-spool my existing case and use it indefinitely!
What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Follow my progress here or at http://www.greenmatters.com/green-blog/ all month.
I’m almost our of contact solution which I have only been able to find in plastic bottles. Please advise if you know of an alternative.
Read all posts by: Crissy Trask
I appreciate the comments! I've just finished up blogging about week 2 of the challenge. I'd post it here, but after re-reading the form, I think I'm only supposed to post once. You can follow the rest of my journey at http://www.greenmatters.com/green-blog/
Hi Crissy. The plastics industry is very secretive. One of the biggest problems for consumers is that we just don't know what chemicals are in our plastic or plastic-lined containers because manufacturers are not required to disclose that information to the public. So, are BPA-free containers safer than BPA-containing options? The jury is out and there are activists and scientists out here trying to find the information, but I don't have anything definitive for you.
Glasses didn't work for me (too much pressure on my sinuses and I need peripheral vision for when my neck locks up). I bit the bullet and had Lasik surgery, after my sister did and said it was the best decision of her life. It's certainly near the top of my list. I never realized how much time and energy, in addition to plastic, I spent dealing with and worrying about my 20/600-20/800 vision. Surgery is not plastic-free or cheap or to be entered into lightly, but it can be a one-time solution for some folks. After 20 years of glasses and contacts, being 20/20 with no effort is a miracle to me.
Beth, Interesting video! I know the can lining is very, VERY thin (I used to know how thin), but I can see from the video that there is defintiely more than you find inside a bottle cap! I guess the lowest-plastic way to consume a cold one is from the tap at a bar. My understanding is that the kegs are stainless steel. A handful of food companies now have BPA-free linings and the list keeps growing (yeah!), as you know. But I'm not clear on what the new lining is made of (oh so proprietary!) Plastic of some kind I'm assuming. Do you have any details regarding this? Please share if you do. Crissy
Hi Crissy. Thanks for posting your challenge results. Your low plastic consumption is impressive, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of you progress on your blog. A note about food and beverage cans -- they are all lined with plastic, BPA to be specific. Sadly, it's not just food cans but aluminum beverage cans too. There's a great video showing the plastic lining inside a soda can here: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000100 And here's more info on surprising sources of BPA: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/12/washing-our-hands-of-bpa-this-winter/ I hear you about the cheese. Low moisture mozzarella just has more flavor, doesn't it? But I've been learning to like the fresh kind I can get in bulk too. Funny you should mention contact lens solution because Emily at Rodale.com wrote about that yesterday. Personally, I avoid the problem by wearing glasses, but they are still plastic and they are not for everyone.