September 3, 2010

Corinne and Nils, Week 1

Corinne and Nils's plastic waste

Name: Corinne and Nils

Week: 1

Personal Info:

Throughout this year, my husband, Nils, and I have committed ourselves to 52 Weeks of Impact where each week, we choose a different theme and take action toward “making the world a better place”. Our hope in starting this project was to prove that we can all have a positive impact and still hold down a job, and manage a household, family and relationships. Each week we try to let our followers know our theme for the week and invite them to join us in whatever way they can within their own community.

We currently live in Vienna, Austria but did our plastic collection while on vacation at my sister’s house in the San Francisco Bay Area. We collected for four adults (Nils, myself, my sister and brother-in-law)

Total items: 44

Total weight: unknown

Items: Recyclable
4 plastic clamshells (2x#1, #6 and #7)
2 plastic “compostable” clamshells (“NatureWorks PLA compostable”)
1 toilet paper wrapping
5 plastic grocery bags (#2)
1 ginger candy bag
1 goat cheese container (#5)
1 hot coffee lid (#6)
1 tortellini bag
3 yoghurt cups (#6)

Items: Nonrecyclable
3 Styrofoam cups
1 Styrofoam meat tray
1 plastic fork
4 plastic spoons
1 plastic bag
2 plastic clamshells from gloves and socks
1 Reese’s candy wrapper
1 wrapping for tray of bottled water
2 plastic bags from boxer shorts packaging
2 hooks from boxer shorts packaging
7 misc. plastic packaging bits

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The plastic clamshells come from produce purchases. We typically don’t buy produce in clamshells. Normally, produce is either loose (so I must use a plastic produce bag) or is packaged on a cardboard tray with plastic covering — slightly less plastic used). If we lived here, I would continue to buy my produce loose, not in clamshells. Recyclable or not, I believe in “reduce” IF possible.

Nils and I almost never use plastic grocery bags, we carry our own. So, deleting plastic bags from our list is a no-brainer.

In the future, we could take our own mug or travel mug to the coffee shop instead of using their paper cups with plastic lids.

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

I’ve grown accustomed to ice cream in a paper cup with a wooden spoon (like the “old days”). I could give up the take out ice cream if it meant always contributing to the plastic/Styrofoam in the world.

Regret buying the packages of boxer shorts for Nils. Not only did we generate plastic, but the quality of the boxers aren’t that great. In the future, we’ll spend a bit more money and buy the boxers individually — better quality, no plastic wrapping.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?

As far as I can tell, there aren’t any plastic-free alternatives when buying yogurt, and it’s an integral part of our diet. :-(

How can we avoid using plastic produce bags at the store? If I buy a bunch of tomatoes or lemons loose, it seems I have no choice but to group them in a plastic bag.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?

We’ll have to consider buying more of our groceries at the farmers’ market, where we can take our own reusable containers. This is a rather inconvenient alternative, but NOT out of the question. We WILL consider (at the very least) doing this once a month or so.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

I opted NOT to go for several extra “snacks” because of lack of plastic alternatives. Bonus: less plastic consumption AND fewer calories. Plastic awareness could also bring needed weight loss :-).

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

This was a fabulous exercise and has already had an impact on our consumer behavior! Thank you for this. (You can see some of our other conclusions at Any other questions, or something I neglected to include, don’t hesitate to contact me).

While we’re usually accustomed to “making Impact”, fakeplasticfish’s challenge was what made the Impact — on us. While we believe we live fairly eco-conscious lives, this “simple” act of collecting and developing a consciousness of what role plastic plays in our lives was eye-opening. It has changed the way we view things in the stores and we’ve started to make small changes in our consumer behavior.

Bravo Beth for this initiative!

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