October 2, 2016

Join the Challenge

keep-calm-and-accept-the-challenge-41The challenge site is closed to new submissions.  But you can (and should!) still participate on your own or with a group!  Browse around this site and see what others have done.  When you’re ready to start, here are the rules:

UPDATE:  If you’d like to post your challenge results, you may now do so within the Challenge topic in the Plastic-Free Discussion Forum.


1.) Collect all of your own plastic waste, both recyclable and non, for a minimum of one week. If you want to go for more than one week, great! Just keep each week’s collection separate.

2.) What qualifies as yours? Anything that benefits you. So, if your housemate or significant other brings home a tub of yogurt that you both share, the tub goes in your tally. But if you hate yogurt, never touch the stuff, and wouldn’t have bought it for yourself in a million years, it’s not your responsibility. What about stuff for your kids? I’ll leave that up to you. Whatever you decide, just be consistent about collecting it.

3.) Live normally in the first week. It doesn’t help to artificially reduce your plastic consumption for the sake of a one-week tally if you will go back to living with more plastic afterward. Think of this exercise as a scientific experiment. Nothing more.

4.) Take a photo of your stash and list out the items at the end of each week during which you participate. You might also want to include details about what things are recyclable in your community or not. If you have a sensitive food scale, you might consider weighing your plastic as well. A bathroom scale won’t really be accurate because plastic is so light weight.

5.) Guilt is not encouraged. Nor are comparisons with other people whom you perceive to be doing “worse” or “better” than you in terms of plastic waste. This exercise is for purely educational purposes. Guilt doesn’t help.

6.) Answer the questions listed below.

7.) Guilt is unnecessary.

8.) There is no time limit for doing this exercise. This is an ongoing challenge.

9.) Guilt will only get in the way of understanding. It’s not needed for this challenge.

10.) Seriously.

Show Your Plastic Challenge Questions

  1. What plastic items did I REFUSE this week? (Thanks!)
  2. Of the items I collected, which ones are recyclable where I live?
  3. Which ones are non-recyclable?
  4. Which am I unsure of?
  5. Looking at my list, what feelings arise for me?
  6. What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
  7. What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
  8. What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
  9. What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
  10. What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
  11. What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

Remember, this exercise is just for you.

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4 years ago

I’m up for the challenge. I’m so grateful I found your site. Been doing the “no plastic” on my own. Friends family don’t get it, and that’s fine. But I love the support! And the ideas.

John A Bailey
4 years ago

Dear Mrs. Terry.
I just finished your book plastic free. Your 5 years of reducing and eliminating plastic in every facet of our lives is inspiring and detailed.
A few things I learned. All those 99 cent “cloth” bags I had from the stores (15 in total) were made from non recyclable plastic. I even had one made out of plastic that I got on Earth Day cause of the Earth Day logo.
I took all my plastic cloth bags and donated them to the sharing center at the county dump for people to reuse.
My household is me and my girlfriend. In two weeks we generate about one 13 gallon kitchen garbage bag of garbage to three 13 gallon kitchen bags of single line recyclables, not counting boxes that I break down to recycle.

I / we now have acquired second hand muslin shopping bags to replace those plastic cloth bags. I garden and compost everything I can. We dehydrate what foods we can, freeze and both pressure and water bath can the meat we raise and our vegetables, and buy in bulk when possible.

The plastic free book has shown us how many more opportunities their are to reduce, reuse, re purpose, and recycle much of the product packaging and containers that exist today.

Thank you