June 16, 2009

BillieRyder – Plastic Trash Eating Challenge – Week #1

Week#1 June 6 – Jun 12 2009

The entire purpose of my plastic tally is to improve my eating. This means that I didn’t save any plastic that didn’t deal with food — like my blister paks from Nyquil. So can I lose weight if I stay away from plastic? That is what I want to find out. This week I gained no weight which I thought was pretty amazing given how sick I was.

My name is Andria. I live with my husband and his children come to stay with us every weekend. My husband doesn’t believe in being environmentally friendly. In theory, some of the plastic is also used by other people in the household. For example, I wouldn’t go through so much wheat gluten if I was just making bread for myself. You get the idea. But any plastic that is JUST used by the other members is not in this list. That would be a significant amount. I make no attempt to reduce my husband’s consumption. Some of it is naturally reduced if I can get away with purchasing a non-plastic item but if he wants a plastic convenience item, I buy it for him.

None of these items are recyclable. My county only takes plastic bottles with any recycling number. Since plastic bottles are the easiest things to eliminate from my consumption, I am afraid that I recycle almost none of my plastic.

Total number of items: 14 weight: approx. 4 oz

Item list:

  1. Quick eggs container
  2. Wheat gluten plastic bag
  3. Safety seal from around the top of an ice cream carton
  4. plastic wrap from around some Whole Food’s Habanero Jack cheese
  5. 2 zip rings and 1 plastic cap from a glass bottle of milk
  6. thick plastic from my 2lb brick of cheddar cheese
  7. bag from lettuce — disclaimer below
  8. bag from SunMaid raisins — disclaimer below
  9. bag from 1lb of carrots
  10. bag from celery hearts
  11. bag from frozen yucca — disclaimer below
  12. seal from can of General Foods International coffee


Several of these items are a result of my husband’s purchases. I used up the leftover frozen yucca that he purchased before it was unusable from freezer burn. I would never buy this for myself. I generally buy non-plasticized lettuce from myself and iceberg lettuce from my husband. If my husband doesn’t use up his lettuce then I use it up so we don’t throw it out. That plastic gets added to my tally which I prefer over food waste.

One other item that would not generally end up in my list — raisin bag. This came from raisins that were left over from a retreat I went to. The person didn’t want to bring the raisins back home and as looking for someone that ate raisins to take them. I took them. I normally buy raisins in bulk which uses no plastic.

What items could I easily replace with less plastic alternatives:

  1. Quick eggs container — I guess that I really should use just eggs. How much benefit is there really from using this processed item — in terms of cholesterol that is?
  2. Wheat gluten plastic bag — I discovered that I can buy this in bulk. Naturally, I figure that out 2 days after I replaced the gluten at the grocery store. After I finish the next box, no more plastic here.
  3. celery hearts — I think that regular celery comes with no plastic. I usually use the celery hearts in the belief — mistaken or otherwise — that there is less celery involved therefore I may end up throwing out less if I don’t use it up. Ummm… hmmm… weak… I know
  4. seal from GF coffee — I have been trying to motivate myself to switch to tea. I have some loose tea and can buy loose tea in bulk. NEED.TO.WORK.ON.THIS
  5. carrots are at the Farmer’s Market so I can buy them plastic free now for a reasonable price.

What items would I be willing to give up if no plastic free alternative?

There is not a single item I would give up out of the items not already listed that I could easily replace. That is not to say that I haven’t given up items. Lets see…. Chocolate, pretzels, chips, tapioca pudding, any kind of interesting juices, apple cider… and so on and so forth.

The great thing about this challenge is that I specifically took it on to eat better so convenience foods are mostly out. Will some get on to future lists? I am sure they will! My goal is to greatly reduce the processed food I eat so I am looking forward to seeing if I can do that. I am going to work on getting rid of all the plastic listed in the “easily replaceable list”. Some of this won’t happen until I finish what I already have.

The only essential item is milk (and maybe cheese). In theory, I could give up most of the plastic that exists on my list but I have no desire to give up milk — even in theory. I am not very good at taking vitamins and I am allergic to yogurt and cottage cheese. And no I don’t understand that either. Milk and cheese are the two dairy items that I can easily eat that don’t seem to make me sick and I can easily get calcium into my body. I have already moved to milk in a glass bottle so I am down to the zip ring and the plastic cap rather than a complete jug and cap.

Lifestyle changes?

I am trying to find a summer squash recipe that won’t force me to buy anything like sour cream so I can make a plastic free dinner. Trying to work on eating local as that seems to bring down the amount of plastic that hits the house.

Other conclusions?

Apparently, I am only willing to go so far before I draw the line in the sand regarding giving up plastic use. I use SIGNIFICANTLY less plastic than my husband but unlikely I will make it to Beth’s level. I want my cheese and my carrots in the winter and… and… and….

I think I have made small in-roads with my husband this weekend. The nice thing about this challenge is that I have told him I am doing this challenge. He thinks I am a complete nut job but it has opened up a couple of discussion points. Sadly one of them was over my complete inability to eat healthily at McDonalds without indulging in plenty of plastic. I also managed to engage the kids in a discussion on what happens to plastic.

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