July 10, 2009

Amy: Week 1

I did not collect all my plastic.  Though it makes for a great picture, and I love the visual Beth presents each week, I refused to wash it all and collect it. Instead, I thought about it on and off all week, especially when I chucked things in the trash that could be recycled if I made the effort. Here’s is all of the plastic discarded May 11 to 17. I had a head cold, so there is a LOT of cold meds listed.

Three black plastic trays with plastic film covers, from Healthy Choice frozen entrees.
Cough pill bottle
Cough syrup bottle & dosing cup
Pill blister pack from Phenylephrine
Overwrap from Puffs Plus
Surrounding film from pop-up tissues
Cough drop bag
Tylenol bottle
Rice bag
Overwrap film, rice bag, veggie bag, and sauce bag from frozen Chinese
Tortilla bag
Stickers on bell peppers
Apple bag
Salad bag
Pudding cup and peel-off lid
Individual cookie wrapper
Twix wrapper
Catfish bag, outer bag, outer outer bag (our seafood counter and bagger apparently hate the smell of fish)
2 Cereal bags
Meat tray and peel-off top
4 newspaper bags
Ziploc bag (quart)
Spinach (frozen) bag
Lid and shaker top from a seasoning jar
Toilet paper wrapper
Unknown number of plastic window envelopes in the mail
Carrot bag
Outer wrapper from microwave popcorn bag
Spice jar
Peanut jar
2 milk jugs
Egg carton

Tally analysis

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
The frozen entree trays, the cookie wrapper, the candy bar wrapper. If I made more food at home, I could pack them in reusable containers. I usually do (see above about the head cold). I remember Ludens cough drops coming in a wax paper bag inside a paperbopard box. Is that still plastic free, or have they encased that in plastic wrap these days?

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
The frozen chinese food. I just dicovered that over the winter, it’s still a novelty, but nice to have something quick and easy for time or energy strapped evenings.

How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
Frozen entrees, tortillas, microwave popcorn, pudding cup, cookie, Twix, frozen Chinese, cold cereal(thought I’m not sure I’d enjoy a homemade alternative – all I can picture is granola)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Cough syrup, decongestant, carrot bag, meat and fish wrappers, Puffs Plus, Ziploc bags.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Prepping more meals on the weekend

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
That is a very tough question. I am happy to make my own lunches in lieu of frozen pepared entrees. I am happy to bring a produce bag, eliminating the apple bag above. In fact most weeks I do, but I was feeling worn down that week so eliminating them feels as much like cheating as saying I could eliminate the cough syrup or phenylephrine packaging. I think the mid-afternoon snack wrapper (I had a Twix and a cookie) is a good goal – If I bring in good snacks from home, I won’t be tempted to hit the vending machine.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Sick = plastic, both for the medicines and for the convenience foods I switch to because my energy is down.

About me
I’m a 31 year old married woman who lives and works in Massachusetts. The tally above is for myself and my cat – I didn’t think my husband would be interested in bringing his trash home from work. I read a lot of “green” blogs, so you’d think I’d have this thing down by now, but I’m still reluctant to leave my comfort zone, or to appear “weird”. I tend to do “green” things when they are also frugal. Thankfully they are both coming into vogue, so I can push the envelope a little more without feeling like people are staring or passing judgment.

About my week
Even starting to get sick, my energy was sapped. I bought some things I don’t normally (like apples in a bag) just to get the shopping over with. Once I had symptoms I had even less energy. Normally, if I buy frozen entrees, I will wash the trays and bring them home to recycle. This week I just chucked ’em in the trash. On the other hand, there is no plastic from restaurants, because I didn’t want to share the germs. Also, no water bottles – we’re trying to use up an expired package,but we’re only using them when we’re outside the home.

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