February 1, 2010

Reducing Plastic Waste: January 2010 Collection Results

6.4oz Plastic Waste [3.2oz new/3.2oz acquired prior to June 2007]

Beth's plastic waste - Year 3 Month 7

It’s a new year and a new plastic collection. For those just joining this blog, every month I collect and tally my plastic waste to see how far I’ve come and what still needs to be done. As I mentioned in my post “8 Reasons Why Personal Changes Matter,” it’s only after looking at our own waste and trying very hard to find alternatives that we can see clearly where the limits are and what companies we need to target or civil actions to engage in. So, here’s January’s tally:

Plastic purchased before June 15 2007 and used up in the last month (3.2 oz):

  • 6 expired pairs of contact lenses & blister packs. I think these were actually bandage contact lenses prescribed back when I was having terrible cornea problems. Expired and unusable at this point. Found while cleaning out bathroom cupboard.
  • 1 bottle lens cleaner and cap. Same cupboard.
  • 1 bottle expired eye drops and cap. Ditto.
  • 2 plastic bags also found in that bathroom cupboard. Contained some kind of bathroom hardware at one time… I think.
  • 1 venus razor cartridge & package. The only time I use these plastic cartridges is when traveling with carry-on baggage because double-edged razor blades don’t go over well at airport security. I’ve had this one since before I started this project in June 2007, and it’s finally started leaving scars on my knees. See below for details on my usual plastic-free shave method.
  • Plastic from my old cell phone SIM card. Found this one while cleaning a desk drawer. It’s funny how much plastic waste I still find lurking in my house.
  • Plastic packing tape. Found in the back of a closet. You’d think with all this cleaning out of things my house would be spotless by now. And you would be sadly mistaken.

New plastic waste (3.2 oz):

  • Styrofoam packaging from birthday gift teapot. This was the cute little teapot I decided to keep instead of regifting, as I would normally do with gifts packaged in plastic.
  • One prescription bottle plus cap.
  • Scotch tape from a birthday gift received. I think this may have also been from the teapot.
  • 1 plastic seal from around a jar of Berkeley Bowl peanut butter. The jar is glass and the lid is metal.
  • 2 plastic seals from around cartons of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Honest, no more! In fact, I’m swearing off dairy for a while for reasons you don’t really want me to go into on this blog.
  • 3 caps from glass bottles of Straus milk. See below for explanation of where our milk comes from and the reusable glass bottles. Sadly, I’ve noticed Straus is moving to a disposable cardboard carton with plastic liner. Here’s hoping they never give up on the glass bottles. And here’s wishing they’d do something about these darned plastic caps. Like take them back, for example. (Take Back the Cap???) But of course, I already said I’m swearing off milk for a while. Whatever.
  • 1 cap & neck threads from glass bottle of Spectrum canola oil. So far I’ve been able to find oil in glass bottles, but they all have plastic caps.
  • 3 plastic drinking straws! David from GlassDharma will be so disappointed in me. While I was in Hawaii with my family earlier this month, I forgot three times to request no straw in my drink. That’s two more times than all of last year. I think I need a refresher course in how to do this plastic-free thing.
  • 10 plastic envelope windows. Insurance company, financial company, credit card company, some tax-related forms, and a jury summons! In fact, as you read this, I am probably sitting in a jury room waiting to find out if I’ll be required to perform my civic duty. I’ve never actually been chosen for a jury, although I came close one time.  Could be interesting, but I have so much to do this week, I’m hoping today is not my lucky day. Is that unpatriotic of me?

Related posts:

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Beth Terry
13 years ago

Hi, Jason. Actually, I have found that my local Whole Foods has oil in bulk. We get all our olive oil this way. But we do still have some canola oil in glass bottles in the refrigerator. We seldom use canola oil. I’ll save the last bottle to refill once it’s used up.

13 years ago

About your cooking oil lid problem:

I’ve seen a couple of bulk food sections which sell bulk oil in reusable bottles. The lids are probably plastic, but at least they’re reusable.

You might look around at your options there.

13 years ago

I’m glad for your plastic free inspiration for Garbage Free February in my city. (Grassroots project).

And Crunchy Chicken’s food waste challenge

Plastic and food waste are the things that remain major sources of garbage.

13 years ago

Hi Beth,

You’re so amazing. I really relate to the part about all the cleaning but your house isn’t spotless. You’d probably feel much better if you saw all my clutter. I buy canola oil in bulk, refilling my own bottle and thus avoiding the new plastic lid. It is more expensive, though.

Hey, saw your question to Ask Umbra on Grist yesterday. Just had to be you.

Beth Terry
13 years ago

Awesome idea Steve, as long as they’ll let me bring my own container. Of course, it doesn’t help with trying to go off dairy, does it?

(Their chicory ice cream is awesome. Like coffee without the caffeine.)

Steve L.
13 years ago

Hey Beth!

Love your blog. I’ve got a solution to your ice cream dilema. Buy your ice cream from Ici on College Ave in Berkeley. All organic and they can hand pack a quart for you. You so deserve it!

Keep up the inspiration.


Environment and world
13 years ago

Thank you for providing a collection of idiotic things we often use to spoil our own earth. Kudos…


Taina Uitto
13 years ago

Hi Beth,

Your tally makes me chuckle, as your new plastic pile looks very much like mine (after my first month sans plastique)- A few incidental straws, some milk bottle lids, plastic envelope windows. Do you ever feel like you are collecting other people’s trash when you acquire plastic? I sure do. How do you not get all worked up about it?

Anyways, loving your blog. Check out mine and we should chat one day soon.


13 years ago

I am amazed, what you show on this blog is telling me that I have a long way to go.

But, more importantly, I have come a very long way spurred by the ideas behind your postings…

The direction one goes using personal choices is what counts, right?

13 years ago

Hey Beth – you won the String holder on my blog! Send me your snail mail info at robj98168@yahoo.com and I will get it out as soon as possible!

Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green
13 years ago

I forget way to often to ask for no straw. I remember to ask for no lemon (I don’t want pesticides in my water or nasty germs from people’s hands lol) but often forget about the straw. :(

13 years ago

i recommend berkeley bowls raw organic coconut oil. comes in a glass jar with metal lid. it is in the vitamin section. there are other coconut oils in the oil section, but this one is amazing and for some reason shelved separately.
omg it it so delicious, and has the right ratio of all the efa’s.

13 years ago

Don’t give it up – convert!

Here’s an awesome plastic free vegan ice cream recipe.

Blend frozen bananas with cocoa powder and coconut cream (or shredded coconut and extra virgin coconut oil). You can throw in some tofu, or chocolate chips, too if you like. It comes out like soft ice cream, but you can harden it in the freezer. Make sure your ingredients are fair trade.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey