December 1, 2010

Plastic Challenge: Amanda R., Weeks 5 – 8

Amanda's plastic waste

Name: Amanda

Week: 5 – 8

Personal Info:

Read Amanda’s description in her Week 1 post.

Total items: 53 (average 13.25 items/week)

Total weight: 8.2 oz (average 2.05 ounces/week)

Items: Recyclable
1 #5 lid from guacamole at the airport
1 #3 abreeva pkg

Items: Nonrecyclable
2 trash bags
13 envelope windows
2 meat pkgs from CSA
3 microwave popcorn bags
1 cereal bag
1 brown sugar bag
3 bags for greens from CSA
2 milk bottle tops
2 seals around bottle tops
1 granola bag
1 spoon
1 fork
1 top from salt canister
2 q-tips
3 credit or gift cards
2 dead pens
2 antibiotic pill cards
1 brita filter bag
1 goat cheese from CSA
1 foam around composter handle
1 empty toothpaste tube
2 printer ink cartridge pkgs
2 bags a wig and hairnet thing came in
1 bag the soil for planting bulbs came in

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
The food items have largely shifted to non-plastic already, but there are still remnants in the house — the cereal & brown sugar I now make myself, I’ve been more careful about plastic-free salt, and the granola is a left-over.

The microwave popcorn was a gift from family — we’ve talked about it, and I don’t think I’ll be getting any more.

The airport guac was a misunderstanding — I checked that it came in a paper container, but forgot to specify “no lid”

The plastic cutlery is a reflection of me not being comfortable taking out my own silverware at social gatherings… I don’t want to be rude, or appear to be “making a point;” that said, partway through the month, I started being bolder about it, and it didn’t really seem to faze anyone.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
“essential” is a strong word, but I really wanted the wig for a costume party at my family’s Thanksgiving — it was perhaps a poor decision, but I’m afraid I’d make it again!

The printer ink is tough — I volunteered to refill the ink for the office, so that I could get refillable cartridges instead of new ones, and these have less packaging than new — I should investigate whether, if I call ahead, I could get them before they’ve been packaged.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
This is half as many trash bags as in October — the worms are eating more of my wet kitchen trash. They don’t eat it quite as fast as I produce it, however! I’ll keep trying to cut down on the trash.

I’m looking into getting a fountain pen.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I’ve said before that I’ll give up microwave popcorn, but I mean it this time! Also, no more wigs for a while…

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I wanted to share a quick story — at our family Thanksgiving, I challenged people to bring one plastic-free (or as close as possible) dish, and we had a contest — the prizes were chico bags. Entries included fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, Brussels sprouts (bought on the stalk), bacon-wrapped dates (all bulk purchased, using home-made brown sugar). The winner was my cousin’s pumpkin pie, using lard for the crust (which apparently required trips to multiple grocery stores, and enduring the derision of at least one salesman!) with the only plastic being the lids on the spice jars. The competition rolled over into the afore-mentioned costume party, at which one of my aunts came dressed as the great pacific garbage patch!

I suppose this sounds like I’m bragging, but really it’s Beth’s website that deserves the credit — the ability to post these challenges and share with friends and family makes it easy to get people talking and thinking about all the plastic in their / our daily lives, and how to reduce it bit by bit. So thanks!

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