February 11, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Jen C, Week 2


Jen's plastic waste

Name: Jen C.

Week: 2

Personal Info:

See full description in Jen’s Week 1 Plastic Tally post.

Total items: 39

Total weight: 1 pound, 2 oz

Items: Recyclable
plastic lids, which we can recycle at my daughter’s school

Items: Nonrecyclable
Packaging for George Foreman grill
Cereal inner bags (could be waxed paper – not sure)
Lids for missing plastic containers
bag from meatless meatballs
tube of toothpaste
newspaper bag (we don’t order this)
unknown sheet of plastic
wrapping for the checks
rings from milk jugs, mineral water & almond milk
prescription bottles and packaging
plastic disposable bathroom cup
toothbrush packaging
produce ties
compression shorts package
potato bag
top of the bag of yeast
piece of styrofoam from composter

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Cereal – I can buy cereal in bulk for myself, but the selection is limited, so the family will still want boxed cereal
“Meat”balls – anyone have a recipe? My daughter just found out these were meatless today
Almond milk – will make my own after last container is empty
Disposable bathroom cup – replaced with a glass
Salad dressing – try to find a brand the kids will eat that has a metal lid
Compression shorts pkg – Didn’t realize it would come packaged this way – pay more attention to that for future clothing purchases
Potato bag – Mom split her potatoes with me. I don’t buy packaged fruits or vegetables

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Meatless meatballs if my family doesn’t like the homemade version

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Toothpaste (sorry but I do believe that fluoride is a good thing)
Produce ties
Checks (although we don’t use them much)
Milk, which I buy in returnable bottles
Prescription bottles/packaging
Yeast (bought a bulk bag instead of individual packets though)
George Foreman grill – to replace our 10-year-old model, which I will give to one of my friends

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Convince my family to be less reliant on packaged foods

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
disposable plastic bathroom cups (I was reusing them, but glass is much better)

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
It is really hard to avoid plastic even when making a conscious effort!

Please help!
If anyone has a good TVP-based vegetarian meatball recipe, please pass it on to me. It needs to be something I can pass off on my family.

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5 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Jen C, Week 2"

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EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)

Hi Jen,

I totally agree that you’ve got to take these sorts of life changes one step at a time, and I also don’t think soy is all bad. But… I’ve recently started using scrambled eggs in place of ground beef an a bunch of recipes with surprisingly good results. I just made lasagna with a layer of scrambled eggs where the hamburger would normally go and it turned out great!

Good luck with the “meat” balls!

thanks for the recipe! i found some TVP in the bulk area at Whole Foods and was trying to figure out what to do with it. my hubby loves the ‘fake’ meat patties (that are all individually wrapped in plastic) so this will definitely help me with that goal.

Beth – thanks so much for the info on returning the Tom’s toothpaste tubes! That is the brand the kids and I use, and my husband said he will switch after his current tube is empty.

Rebecca – that veggie burger recipe sounds perfect for my family! Thanks for sharing it. I also have mixed feelings about processed soy, but I am trying to reduce our meat consumption. One of my daughters and I really need our protein, so it has been difficult for us.

EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)
Hi Jen, I used to make TVP burgers all the time, but I’ve been cutting back on processed soy, so I haven’t made them in a few years. This is the recipe that I used, and I’m pretty sure it would work for “meat” balls too. I do recall that I “futzed” with the recipe a bit, only I can’t now remember exactly what my “futzes” were! I believe it had to do with adding some shredded zucchini, and substituting some soy flour for at least part of the flour, and there might have been an extra egg in there… Read more »
Hi Jen. Those cereal bags are definitely plastic, not wax paper. Your toothpaste — the way the tube is folded it looks like Tom’s. Is it? If so, it’s an aluminum tube that can be recycled by sending it back to Tom’s. I am collecting mine so I can send a bunch all at once. You do have to pull off the plastic cap and threads first. Here are the details: /2009/02/bpa-in-your-toothpaste-recycling-tubes/ Jen, it seems like your family is doing an amazing job, actually. Plastic IS hard to avoid, and part of the purpose of this exercise is to see… Read more »