June 1, 2009

Deborah from PureMothers, Week 1

I decided to take Beth’s challenge over at FakePlasticFish and tally my family’s disposable plastic trash for one week, starting friday morning 5/15 and ending at midnight 5/21. I was curious to see if having a toddler increased my plastic consumption in any significant amount. Turns out, that the items I purchase for him did not account to as much as I thought. But, I do certainly see places where I can cut back on his plastic trash, as well as my husband’s and mine. Here is my 22 month old son’s tally:


– 35 disposable diapers
– 1 packaging diapers came in
– 1 bottle of bubble bath
– 2 tubs of Sunbutter (only option)
– 4 yogurt containers
– 2 packages of turkey deli slices
– 3 cereal bar wrappers
– 1 bag of imported grapes (only organic option when not in season)
– 1 raw cheddar cheese (not available raw at cheese counter)
– 1 ring from raw organic milk (bottle was glass, cap is plastic)
– 1 bag of mini raisins for play group
– 1 popsicle wrapper
– 2 wrappers for frozen meals
– 1 bag of frozen peas & carrots
– 2 lids to oatmeal boxes
– 2 plastic seals to oatmeal boxes
– 1 cheese stick wrapper
– 7 straws to juice boxes
– 7 wrapper for straws
– 1 plastic shrink wrap on juice box grouping
– 3 straws to strawberry milk boxes
– 3 wrappers to straws

My son goes through about 5 disposable diapers per day and I usually use as least 1 or 2 cotton training underpants or all-in-one cloth diapers in a day. I tried the cloth diaper route and gDiapers but he kept pulling at them and couldn’t walk very well in them. I wanted to love cloth, but my son is just so skinny and they didn’t seem to work. Sorry Beth. Sorry Earth. I am happy to say that the wipes I use for him are 100% biodegradable and packaged in eco-friendly, compostable chalk-based material. The only item that is recyclable is the bubble bath bottle – but not the lid. I also want to mention that almost everything is organic, but that doesn’t always mean that the packaging is earth-friendly. I am learning that organic does not always mean it’s good for the planet once it reaches the consumer – just in the way it was grown and whether it’s biodegradable. It rarely refers to the packaging. I can see that as my toddler gets older some of these items won’t be used anymore. I have also decided to trade in his juice boxes for another refillable stainless steel Thermos filled from glass-bottled juice with metal lids.


I’m a little sick to my stomach when I look at my pile. Only one item in my tally is recyclable where I live, which tells me that recycling is not the long term answer to our plastic problem.

– 2 packages frozen raviolis
– 1 bag of bread sticks
– 1 plastic wrap for 8 rolls of paper towels
– 1 plastic wrap for 4 rolls of toilet paper
– 4 yogurt containers
– 1 bottle of agave syrup
– 1 container cream cheese
– 1 container for strawberries
– 1 container raw hemp nib brownies
– 1 container raw hazelnuts
– 1 container cherry tomatoes
– 1 container blueberries
– 2 plastic wraps around pot pies
– 1 bag shredded cheese
– 1 bag dried apricots
– 1 bag sushi rice
– 1 lid to oatmeal box
– 1 plastic seal to oatmeal box
– 1 bread bag from Whole Foods
– 1 plastic tie for bread
– 1 bread bag from farmer’s market
– 3 protein bars/chocolate bar
– 1 packing tape for diaper shipment
– 3 plastic bubble packing for diaper shipment
– 1 Starbucks cup, lid & straw
– 1 coffee lid
– 1 wrapper to pre-made deli sandwich
– 1 container for dressing for said sandwich
– 2 plastic sleeves to greeting cards (ridiculous purchase!)
– 1 wrapper for neck of Nantucket Nectar juice bottle (why?)
– 2 cereal bags
– 1 popsicle wrapper
– 1 organic toaster pastry wrapper
– 2 lids taken off rice milk boxes
– 1 container for cat treats
– 1 bag of tortilla chips
– 3 plastic wrappers to frozen meals
– 2 over wraps to pot pies
– 1 netted bag of mini potatoes
– 1 wrapper for my biodegradable Twist sponge – (confused about that one)
– 1 package for frozen vegetables that came inside a cardboard box
– 1 bag from farmer’s market for raspberries (I ran out of my eco-bags)
– 1 large sheet of plastic backing for vinyl wall appliques – cut into several pieces to apply
– 1 Arrowhead Spring Water bottle top
– 1 plastic remainings to new CVS Club Card
– 1 roll of invisible tape
– 1 plastic bag I can’t remember
– 1 pump to my face lotion (bottle is glass)
– 1 package of 4-pk AA batteries for my camera (my camera died while taking these photos, adding more plastic to my tally!)

One week of plastic trash filled this paper bag. That’s a lot of trash each week. Not to mention that I just didn’t run out of shampoo, toothpaste, pens or bread. And, my son didn’t break a (second-hand) plastic toy this week.


Getting this perspective is helping me to find which items I can replace with non-plastic alternatives, like giving up water delivery and purchasing a water filtration system. I am researching reverse osmosis systems now. I am trying Furoshiki wrapping for gifts and give up my tape. I am using more rags and slowly eliminating paper towels for good. This will save us money too. From now on I am only purchasing fruits and veggies from farmer’s markets in my cloth bags. I am also going to utilize the bulk bins more at Whole Foods for things like rice and dried fruit. The plastic bags from my tally will be re-used for cat litter waste and the other plastic I will save for packing materials. One thing I may have overlooked is the plastic lining inside my rice milk cartons and son’s juice boxes. I realized after tossing those that they don’t use wax anymore, but polyethylene – a plastic.

I am willing to give up a few items that don’t have a plastic-free alternative; like frozen raviolis and breadsticks. I can make homemade pasta and snacks. I can certainly shred my own cheese, but cheddar always seems come wrapped in plastic wrap! I have thought about making my own bread, but the yeast comes in plastic and at least I can reuse the bread bags for litter. I am not sure what lifestyle changes might be necessary to make more changes. I already stay at home and make most of our food from scratch. Perhaps I need to make a trip once each week to Berkeley to utilize the larger selection of bulk bins at the Berkeley Bowl.

I am not willing (or there is no other option) to give up batteries, soft toilet paper (have a baby and you’ll agree and Scott is the only company wrapped in paper), sliced bread, some frozen meals/vegetables for my child (I’ll give up mine), agave syrup and Nancy’s brand cream cheese. I also still feel compelled to use organic skin care in glass with plastic lids or pumps and some makeup packaged in plastic. Although, I did switch to Josie Maran’s line and some items are compostable!

Thank you, Beth for opening my eyes and challenging me to look at new ways to reduce my plastic consumption. So, I am passing on this challenge to all you Moms out there – to tally your disposable plastic for one week and find places where you could make a change or two.

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