October 10, 2010

Danielle, Week 2

Danielle's plastic waste

Name: Danielle

Week: 2

Personal Info:

Read about our family on my Week 1 post.

Since we eliminated trash service a couple of years ago (through reducing, reusing, recycling and composting), I’m constantly looking at our waste and trying to come up with ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill. I’ve been wanting to stop buying food in plastics for a long time because the majority of our trash comes from food products and is non-recyclable plastics.

So this week (just as week 1) is ONLY a tally of what we’ve thrown away in the kitchen… but even so…. we did not have any other plastic waste in our house this week. We also went camping and had no plastic waste!! YAY!!!!!! (We do have plastic… it’s contents just aren’t used yet.)

Total items: 4 (or 8 depending on how you look at it)

Total weight: .7 oz

Items: Recyclable

Items: Nonrecyclable
4 plastic milk tops (from glass milk jugs) with the pull plastic rings. The tops are listed with a #5, but often the chasing arrows on plastic are misleading so I’m including it here.

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
We could not drink milk. We actually aren’t big milk drinkers, my kids like chocolate milk on the weekends and I use buttermilk to make pancakes. Eliminating milk isn’t a huge problem for me as I made almond milk during our plastic-free food week…. maybe it’s something we would consider not using in the future.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
We gave up everything (food packed in plastic) for one whole week. I can honestly say that I didn’t miss anything.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
When it comes to food… I can’t think of anything that we avoided for the week that comes in plastic that is essential. We made plastic-free chocolate chip cookies… YES… I make my own brown sugar!!! We went camping… I don’t buy bottled water, so to make sure that we had enough water I filled glass juice bottles with water, stocked up on bulk snacks, I cut up carrots, made bread (in a bread machine) and I made graham crackers (easiest thing EVER!!)…

OH! Marshmallows! I didn’t buy (or make) marshmallows for our camping trip. Whether I bought or made marshmallows… I just couldn’t find a way around plastic… so we didn’t have smores. I’m determined to find or figure out a plastic-free recipe for marshmallows. Otherwise that could be our 4x a year splurge item.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
What we did during our plastic-free food week was to rethink everything. I’ve always been the type of person who enjoys cooking, but every time I would think about the foods that come in plastic and how I couldn’t use them… I felt defeated… it took me stopping, reevaluating and ultimately reminding myself of all of the foods that don’t come in plastics to be able to make it through the week using only plastic-free foods. AND… We had some of the best meals during our plastic-free food week.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
As far as food goes, I’m not sure there is anything else to give up or replace. My next order of business will be to eliminate some products from our bathroom… but really there isn’t much left.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

When we were driving home from our camping trip, my husband and I were discussing our plastic-free food week. I said to him, “So what do we do now?? Do I buy plastic tomorrow??” I feel like we did something huge… a family of 5… a handful of plastic waste… that’s our trash for one week. My husband says, “I thought this was a trial run, to prove we could do it. Now we keep doing it.”

I went to the grocery store today and didn’t think twice about walking past the plastic-packaged items. I feel victorious… proud… empowered!!!

I’m convinced more people (especially families) would go plastic-free with their foods if they had “proof” that it can be done and it’s being done… I feel the need to share our experiences as we navigate plastic-free food.

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