September 30, 2010

Jessica Connolly, Week 1


Jessica Connolly's plastic waste

Name: Jessica Connolly

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I have been living in San Francisco, CA since August 2007, originally from Los Angeles, CA *sigh*.

I live in a flat with 3 other women whom I go to college with at SFSU, and have a boyfriend who does not live with us. I am a Recycling/Educational Intern at Recology San Francisco and have been with the company since September 2009. Since I began learning about garbage, recycling, composting, reduction, etc, I have been dedicated to changing my consumer habits and make better decisions for the betterment of our planet. However, it is extremely difficult to live a totally plastic-free life; though I am committed to making it happen!

Total items: 30* different items, or 50 individual items

Total weight: 12 ¼ ounces

Items: Recyclable

List of Hard Plastics:
(1) 27-oz organic yogurt container, #5 PP, and lid #2 HDPE
(2) 6-oz single-serving organic yogurt container, #5 PP
(7) Individual Dentek floss/toothpicks, #6 PS
(1) 8-oz cream cheese container, #5 PP, and lid, #2 HDPE
(2) 14-oz Extra Firm Tofu container, #2 HDPE
(1) Gable top seal for half-n-half, #5 PP
(2) Plastic Straws, don’t know the resin
(1) Lid for Icee Cup, #1 PET?
(3) 8-oz Ensure “Nutritional” Drinks, #5 PP, and Lids, probably #2 HDPE

Soft Plastics that will be taken to Safeway:
(1) Tapioca Bread Bag (external bag), yes, there is an internal bag too… #4LDPE
(5) Coverings of National Geographic Magazine, #4LDPE
(1) Organic Cotton Ball Bag, #4 LDPE
(1) Frozen Tamale Bag, #4 LDPE
(1) Deli Bag for cheese, #4 LDPE
(1) Shrink wrap covering a CD case, #4 LDPE
(2) Sandwich-sized baggies to store cheese in the fridge, #4 LDPE
(1) 10-pack of corn tortillas, #4 LDPE

Items: Nonrecyclable

(1) Raisin Bag, #4 LDPE
(1) Set of Earplugs, what are these made from anyway?
(1) 8-oz cream shave container
(1) Film plastic for deli cheese
(1) 2-oz Kiss My Face Sunscreen
(1) Dried Cranberry Bag
(1) Tempe Bag
(1) internal Tapioca Bread bag
(1) Packet of powder of cheese Inside Mac ‘n’ Cheese Box
(1) Envelope Window
(3) Packets of Fruit Snacks
(1) Seal around pint of ice cream
(1) Tab for bread bag
(3) Produce Stickers

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I can buy yogurt in glass deposit jars, or learn to make it when I have some free time.

The Ensure drinks are a temporary item in my life because I had surgery about 6 weeks ago and have been trying to maintain my weight. However, they come with a heavy burden of plastic, and I don’t think they are all too good for me anyway. If it’s the calories that I’m after, I’ll just buy some avocados!

Strauss Milk makes dairy products in glass deposit bottles, so I could replace my gable-top issue with Strauss. However, I don’t believe that the cap of the Strauss milk is reused with the bottle part, and that would leave me with a plastic cap. Any suggestions?

The individual floss/toothpicks are another temporary problem associated with my surgery. Normally I use regular floss from a spool, but because I had shoulder surgery, I either had to take a temporary switch to the individual ones, or have my boyfriend floss my teeth for me. The latter I don’t think would have worked well, and I enjoy being independent, so I invested in these stupid plastic picks.

I love eating cheese, but I don’t love eating cheese that comes in plastic. Say Cheese, in Cole Valley has cheese that I can have hand cut and opt to not have it come in wrap. However, are there any suggestions on how to store cheese in the fridge?

I could replace my sunscreen with a bottle made from metal. However, most of the bottles I see that come in metal have isobutane and other harmful ingredients. Any suggestions of what i can do? I am a fair, freckled person who really cannot give up protecting my skin.

I plan to write to National Geographic about sending my magazines without it wrapped in plastic.

I could replace plastic straws with glass straws, though I’m not much of a straw user.

I will focus on buying produce that come with no stickers or with paper stickers.

Is there a place for me to get corn tortillas that come bag-free?

Many of my other food and food related items can be bought in bulk, and I plan to take a trip to Rainbow grocery once I work my way through the food items I currently have at home.

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

I would be willing to give up fruit snacks if a plastic-free version doesn’t exist. They were an impulse buy anyway!

Also, I already use “sandwich bags” made by the company for lunches away from my home, but I still use plastic baggies to store stuff in my fridge. I’m hoping there is a better, plastic-free way of storing food well. Any suggestions?

Also, I like buying pints of ice cream, but if there isn’t a way to buy a pint without the plastic seal around the rim, then I won’t purchase them anymore. Instead, I’ll support my local Joe’s Ice Cream, for a hand-packed pint, in my own container.

I would be willing to give up rice and tapioca bread since they come in two plastic bags–both an external and an internal bag. While I am gluten intolerant and enjoy eating the fake bread products, I care more about making a positive contribution to the environment and would be willing to not eat my double-bagged bread to do that. However, if there is a way to get gluten free bread without the plastic, please let me know!

I would be willing to give up my Mac ‘n’ Cheese if there are no plastic-free alternatives for the inside cheese packet. After all, there are non-lazy ways to make Mac ‘n; Cheese.

Lastly, I would be willing to give up ear plugs if there aren’t any plastic-free ones out there. Does anyone know what they are made from anyway? The package I have says they are foam, but that isn’t descriptive enough. I wear ear plugs at concerts and also when my roommates are up early in the morning so knowing if there is an alternative would be great!

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

I think the only thing on my list that I don’t think has a plastic-free alternative is Tofu. But please correct me if I’m wrong, and point me in the direction of buying tofu without the plastic! I’m also a vegetarian and love tofu!

Maybe some other things will come up in the future, but this week was mostly food-related plastics, and I think it’ll be easiest to minimize these.

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

I think a lot of changes have to be made. I thought that I was using less disposable plastic than I am, so minimizing this will be crucial.

I think I need to be more attentive to my choices as a consumer. I also think I should be more proactive about writing to companies whose products I enjoy to let them know how I feel about them using plastics and if there are any plastic-free alternatives they are willing to try.

I think planning ahead will allow me to wean myself of plastics, as many of my plastic purchases are impulsive. I plan to manage my inventories of food/personal care/etc much more efficiently so that when I begin to run low on X,Y,Z that I can search for plastic-free options before succumbing to the ease of buying in plastic.

I think making these changes require a huge willingness to learn, as well as being open-minded to adapt and accept omitting certain products if it is detrimental to our planet. Also, being able to say “no” and strengthening my willpower will need to be enforced.

Finally, I am going to begin researching ways to implement plastic-free options in my life, and consult with people who have already made these implementations.

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

Cheese that comes wrapped in plastic (though I still have a little left in the fridge).

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

I think that the usage of disposable plastics are becoming more and more complicated and prevalent in our daily lives. My hope is that the sooner we begin to be plastic-free, the sooner we can help repair our sick oceans, our poisoned soils, our damaged waterways and well being of peoples manufacturing plastics as well as the consumers of plastics.

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7 Comments on "Jessica Connolly, Week 1"

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Hi everyone, Thank you so much for your comments! I’d like to address everyone’s suggests, so bear with me! Claire: 1. This week I didn’t have any frozen food except the tamales…the 4-pack of tamales were made from a local company, and came in a basic plastic bag, where I removed each tamale before I ate it and microwaved it plastic-free. I received those as a “gift” after having surgery. 2. I know the ice cream and Icee cup are lined in plastic, but didn’t count them because they can be composted in San Francisco. However, I don’t plan on… Read more »

Jessica, I Googled “porcelain ear plugs” and all I came up with was this. I know that’s not what you’re talking about. :-) I laughed when I saw that site because I actually didn’t realize that those are called ear plugs too. My employer would have a heart attack.

Hi Jessica. I was going to leave you a comprehensive response, but others have done it for me! Claire, thanks for all the links to articles on Fake Plastic Fish, so I didn’t have to look them up. :-) BTW, it took so long for your comment to go up because WordPress thought it was spam because of all the links. But fortunately, I found it tonight and rescued it from Spam Quarantine limbo.r

Forgot to mention 2 things!! Ditch the plastic baggies…just say “I’m not going to use these anymore” and then when you don’t have them you get super creative on how to store foods. Depending on what you’re using the baggies for you could use glass jars or glass food storage containers. I could definitely help you figure out something as I haven’t bought plastic baggies (ziplocks) in…wow…over 6 years!! (And I have 3 kids!). The other thing that I wanted to mention was the shave cream because I wasn’t sure if you found a replacement. We just use bar soap…we’re… Read more »
Hi! I just wanted to (hopefully) answer a few questions for you since we did a plastic-free food week last week…we used no foods in plastic. For our cheese we had it wrapped in paper…it stored fine (just have to make sure the cheese is wrapped good)…also I shredded a bunch and put it in a glass jar. For plastic free tortillas, you could easily make them. I posted a whole wheat tortilla recipe…but you could easily search and find lots of recipes for different tortillas. My advice would be to make and freeze some so that you are never… Read more »
Hi Jessica, This is not bad at all for week 1. Yogurt – I started making my own yogurt and wanted to tell you that it is really easy. The bonus is that it tastes a LOT better than any brand of yogurt I’ve ever tried. It tastes so fresh! (oh, it does because it IS fresh…. !) Basically, you just have to heat the milk to first Kill bacteria(good and bad bacterias) and add only good back in, keep warm long enough for the good bacteria to grow sufficiently. There are many methods, but the easiest (easier than using… Read more »
after reading this blog for a while now I can help with a few of these things. I want to mention that your ice cream container in all likelihood contains a plastic lining as well and should probably be in your tally. same thing with a lot of frozen food boxes because it’s a moisture/oil barrier. you mentioned an icee cup, that would be plastic lined as well. buying from a bulk container like you mentioned would obviously be a better choice in this scenario, or you could always try an ice cream maker (or you can make due with… Read more »