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August 2, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Margaret, Week 4

 

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If there is any toothpaste out there that isn’t in a completely plastic tube? Actually, I’d settle for a natural toothpaste that isn’t in a box – completely unnecessary packaging around a self-contained product like a toothpaste tube.

Toilet paper – I’ve seen commercial settings, including my work, where the toilet paper is set out unwrapped and I highly doubt the janitorial staff is unwrapping it. But all the bulk TP in cardboard boxes online is apparently intended for resale and individually wrapped. I’m not convinced individually paper wrapped rolls is better overall than the largest possible plastic wrapped package. But at the very least, I did find a 12-pack in a cardboard box on Office Max’s website. As awkward as it’d be, maybe I’ll contact the janitorial dept at my work building to inquire. Anyone work in that sort of setting and know about sources?

Location:Tualatin, Oregon, United States

Name: Margaret

Week: 4

Personal Info:

I live in an apartment with my cat. We’re in a metropolitan area outside the city, that’s not really suburbia, but not really urban.

Margaret’s personal blog: http://weighingthewaste.blogspot.com/

Total items: 47

Total weight: 14

Items: Recyclable
Curbside recyclable

Seventh Generation dish soap bottle (the lid isn’t recyclable)

Other recyclable

2 plastic bags/covers from the dentist visit (see other items in the nonrecyclable section)
Film packaging covering a bottle of liquid iron supplement. This also had a cover underneath the lid. Why do they use both of these on the same bottle? I really think one or the other would suffice to prevent tampering.
2 prescription bottles
Mini chocolate cake container – the most embarrassing part of this challenge isn’t revealing how much plastic I waste, but how much junk food I eat.
2 pieces of bubble wrap
One of these was around a Hotjo stoneware travel mug
The other was around a bottle of Priti soy nail polish remover
42 feet! of Fill-Air packaging – this was in a box from Amazon with the Hotjo mug and Feline Pine cat litter (ordered before I realized this litter was available at the Cat Adoption Team’s store). All my recent packages from Amazon used paper for cushioning, so I was very disappointed to see 131 inflated cushions in this box. They have a take-back recycling program, so I’ll mail them back, as well as submit some negative feedback to Amazon.

Items: Nonrecyclable
Bib, small package, cushion-thingy, 5 nozzle-type items, and syringe from dentist visit.
3 lid rings
Cover underneath lid of iron supplements
2 lids from aseptic containers – almond milk and tomato soup. These may or may not have been in the fridge since before I began the plastic challenge…
2 lint roller sheets
Used razor blade from Preserve razor. I’ve now switched to a metal safety razor
Desert Essence teat tree blemish stick
Mascara container used up
3 Luna bar wrappers – I think these were the last of my pre-challenge purchase. Now I need to get around to making some homemade snack bars.
Fruit leather wrapper
Cheese packet from Annie’s Organic mac & cheese
2 Top Ramen packages – again, embarrassing food choices.
Assorted produce and shopping stickers
Envelope window
Dropper/lid and sticker from a glass bottle of dandelion/milk thistle prescribed for my cat a couple months ago.
Packaging from 12-pack of toilet paper
Wrapper from a metal tin of VerMints – these are available at Whole Foods and are awesome!
Lid from aforementioned dish soap bottle
Island Way sorbet wrapper – these are cute individual servings of sorbet packed in actual fruit shells. I had this while visiting relatives.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Dish soap – I’m going to use Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. Why is my mind trained to think dish soap must be liquid?

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Snacks/dessert at relatives’ houses

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Dentist stuff. It does seem like a lot of the stuff lends itself to reusable items that could be sterilized, but I understand the hazards this is meant to protect.

Iron supplement and prescription bottles

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Spend more time to find local sources instead of ordering online.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Luna bars. :( I don’t plan to buy any more.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

Read all posts by: Margaret in Oregon,Oregon,United States

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7 comments
Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Margaret, does the Anarres tooth powder have a plastic lid? I can't remember now. But Tracey's awesome and I'll bet if you asked her to put it in a plastic-free container she would find a way to do it. I'm actually right now trying a toothpowder from another online company, but I'm at a conference right now and can't look it up. But I'll blog about it. It comes in a metal tin. Also, Lush came out with Toothy Tabs, which are great except they are expensive and too much packaging per product in my book, even though it's a cardboard box. But still, they work great.

Margaret
Margaret

Ok, latest on the toothpaste front: Back in August 2008 you had a post about hair Product, and had a comment referencing Anarres. They have a toothpaste or toothpowder in a glass bottle. :) http://www.anarreshealth.ca/node/122

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Should be. But keep in mind that plastic recycling is mostly downcycling, and that recycling plastic rarely closes the loop. Have you read any of my blogs about plastic recycling?

Margaret
Margaret

Yeah, true. For toothpaste, I just started reading http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/ and came across a mention of tooth powder. I've never heard of it before! I guess it's probably the same idea as using baking soda, though. It looks like mostly come in plastic bottles, but bottles should be easier to recycle than tubes.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

When you go visit Far West Fibers, be sure and ask them what actually happens to the plastic that they collect. From their web site, it looks like they probably collect the material, separate it, bale it, and sell it. It would be good to know where the plastic film goes because most plastic these days is shipped to China. There are some companies in the U.S. that recycle plastic bags into new plastic bags (although the recycled content is a small fraction of the total plastic in the bags) and plastic decking material. The point is that it's downcycling, and if it gets loose in the environment, it's not biodegradable. Tissue paper, on the other hand, will pretty much dissolve in the environment. This reminds me I need to contact my Safeway and find out what happens to the plastic bags they collect.

Margaret
Margaret

The takeback program is through Fill-air. http://www.sealedairprotects.com/NA/EN/sustainability/recycle_inflate.aspx I'm always debating with myself about the plastic versus less packaging. There's a local private recycling company, Far West Fibers, that takes film plastic - I'm not sure how specific the type of film is, it includes grocery bags. Going there has been on my errand list for a while now... The TP at work is recycled, but I don't remember what %. The landlord does janitorial stuff. I'm on my firm's green team and I think we inquired about it at some point, but I don't recall the specifics.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Margaret, who has the take back recycling program? Amazon or Fill-Air? About the toilet paper dilemma... my feeling is that those thin pieces of tissue paper around rolls of Seventh Gen TP are better than plastic around a huge case of TP because the paper is biodegradable but the plastic is not. And the recycling rate for film of that kind is nil. And even if you have a place to take it to be recycled, the chances it will actually be recycled these days are slim. But if the concern is the amount of packaging without regard to the type, then you're right that buying a huge plastic-wrapped case is less packaging than small rolls wrapped in paper which come in a cardboard box. Also, is the TP that is set out at your work recycled? And if so, what percentage of recycled content does it have? Always more questions... :-) Here's an idea for your dentist... have them check out the Eco Dentistry Association for ideas for de-plasticking the dental office.