August 2, 2010

July 2010 Plastic Waste Tally, sponsored by Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

2.5 oz Plastic Waste [2.5 oz new/0 oz acquired prior to June 2007]

Beth Terry's July 2010 Plastic Trash Collection by Beth Terry, on Flickr

(Hanging head in shame, delicious shame.) During last month’s road trip with my dad, I managed to avoid all plastic cups, spoons, forks, knives, straws, containers, bottles, and yet the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos got the better of me. Here’s how it went down:

Dad: [Returning from the gas station mini mart] I got us a treat.

Me: Oh, I can’t eat those.

Dad: You don’t like them?

Me: Love them and all their preservative-laden, artificially-flavored and colored goodness. It’s the plastic bag.

Dad: Oh, right. [Smacks forehead.] Well, I guess I’ll have to eat them.

Me: Oh okay, just one…

And what started with one Cheeto snuck from one bag turned into an orgy of Cheetos delight. My dad would buy a new bag of them, and I’d munch out, until finally, towards the end of a long exhausting trip, I bought the Cheetos myself. It was a Cheetos bender. I’m not even sure I rescued all the bags before my Dad tossed them.

Well, I’m home now and back on the plastic-free wagon. But what I great trip it was. Photos coming soon. For now, here’s the monthly tally.

Beth’s July plastic waste collection

New plastic waste (2.5 oz):

  • Plastic cap from a glass bottle of New Chapter Tranquilnite sleep aid. I’m drinking chamomile and hops tea from now on, which I buy loose from a local herb shop, so no more bottles of sleeping pills, natural or otherwise.
  • Plastic packing tape. From a case of Seventh Generation recycled toilet paper. Read more about our (nearly) plastic-free toilet paper solution here.
  • 6 bags of Cheetos. See above.
  • 3 plastic bags of ice. Ice for the cooler. Read about our road trip ice situation here.
  • 4 plastic envelope windows.Learn about what plastic envelope windows are made from.

That’s it for the month. Now, your turn. What plastic-packaged delights have you fallen victim to? I want details!

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13 years ago

I am so glad to know that you are indeed human! My lips are turning orange just reading this post!

David McKay
13 years ago

I cannot seem to get away from plastic. When I think I have eliminated one source, three more materialize. I am trying really hard to break my addiction to tortilla chips. And, yes, Fritos . . . (sigh).

13 years ago

I just finished off a huge bottle of generic cleaner I bought years ago. Happily, it was at least recyclable, though I understand the re- vs. downcycle problem with plastics.

My regular plastic use comes from conveniance foods. I regularly re-use the bags my rice cakes and gluten-free bread comes in, but not the inner, shrink-wrapped layer. Also, I’ve seen suggestions for how to stop using bags for trash, but our trash company requires that all trash be in a tied-closed plastic bag, or they will not pick up. Frustrating!

13 years ago

Hello Beth

I’ve signed up to receive you newspetters. Is there a way I can follow this blog too? I have recently begun my own blog too about ways to move beyond our use of platics. Here is it, I am going to add your site to my list of sites to look at:

Best wishes

Holly Musgrove
13 years ago

Re: Starbucks and Clif’s pics

That’s a lot of stuff, but none of that is considered recyclable where I live (Georgia). :(

But, we have a wonderful county recycling manager, and she is always on the hunt for new ways to recycle. Maybe one of these days those plastic cups will have a place to go other than the landfill. As it is now, I pick them out of our recycling bin at work and toss them in the garbage.

13 years ago

That was a great summer trip-I like the way you keep track of stuff-I have tried so many times and everytime I forget or something comes up and all my plans go through the window-I will be following your blog for inspiration-Thanks

13 years ago

I just purchased a new bike and I am so excited to start riding more on the weekends and not use my car. However, I had to buy a bike rack for the car to get it home, and most of the thing is plastic. Groan! But I am in the market for a metal water carrier for my Kleen Kanteen for the bike. Any ideas?

13 years ago

I just signed up for your blog and it’s comforting to know there are like-minded people out there with regards to this plastic consumption issue… I am so overwhelmed!! It’s precisely all these little snack bags and wrappers that drive me crazy! But cheetos and potato chips are so hard to resist. What do you do with these wrappers– there’s not any way to recycle them is there?? The icebags I could definitly see reusing.. but.

I regret to say this weekend we are guilty of candy bar wrappers, 2 bags of sour cream and onion chips and plastic fountain drink lids and straws.. I always strive to plan my day better than that but sometimes I big-time fail!!

13 years ago

Hmmm… from last month that I can remember:

KFC and KFC *hang head in shame* do I get brownie points for asking them to put it in a box rather than the styrofoam and plastic lid?

bag of tortilla chips for salsa and chips while we watched the World Cup

2 individual ice cream containers/wrapper from free ice cream offered at work

and lets not discuss that I went to 5 guys and saved none of that plastic.

Believe it or not, breaking up with my husband has been hard on my plastic tally. I have eaten out about every other week with him and the kids which is much more than usual for me. Plus, extremely limited on my choices due to how picky they are. I still figure that trying my best is better than not trying at all.

knutty knitter
13 years ago

Cheetos huh!! Salt and vinegar chips round here :)

viv in nz

13 years ago

If you still have the Cheetos bags you could send them to Terracycle and ease a bit of the guilt.
On the whole Starbucks issue…I manage a Kmart and green my own store. While the company has a few processes in place for #4 plastics, cardboard and paper, I haul everything else out of my store myself. Last week I put out 72 bags of other plastics for the recyclers to take. I also compost outdated food and product from our eatery. Your business is what you make it. The work I do- and it makes a big difference- costs me little more than the bits of time to carry bags to my car and then to the garage/curbside.

13 years ago

The Starbucks recycling issue must be a regional/poitical thing. In Seattle, Starbucks recycles plastic cups, paper coffee cups, pastry bags, and puts out the used coffee graound for customers to take. The City of Seattle has strong recyclong laws and perhaps the Starbucks recycling in Seattle is in response to the city laws.

13 years ago

It’s not quite the same, but the cajun sticks in the bulk bins are pretty tasty.

Condo Blues
13 years ago

My kryptonite is Walkers Rosemary and Lamb crips and Jelly Babies. It’s a yearly thing I buy at the UK food stall at the Irish Festival.

13 years ago

Aheh! I was just at the store staring at my purchase thinking how disappointed you’d be!

Store Brand Nyquil Equivalent: a plastic bottle, sealed with a plastic safety seal, and a plastic cap, and a plastic labelwrap, and a plastic measuring cup (like I don’t have my own measuring spoons?), all of which was held together with a plastic overwrap.

I mean, honestly!

But I’m siiiick and I didn’t get any sleeeep last night and I feel really pitiful and sorry for myself, in case you couldn’t guess!

13 years ago

Re: Starbucks.

I AM NOT SPEAKING FOR STARBUCKS WHEN I SAY THIS (I need to get that out of the way, sorry for the shouting), but as far as local recycling goes, a lot of our hands are tied at the store level. In my store, we make sure most boxes get recycled when one barista is on (He takes boxes to be recycled at his own expense), we have a second who has put out a bin for plastics and glass from the store (Which mostly the baristas do with syrup bottles and the like). I try to make sure that at least the espresso grounds are put out for people to take for gardens and composting, but can’t do the same with food products and coffee from the brewers. Riding my bike at least three times a week does not leave me a lot of room to take recycling with me.

If you guys want to see more action, try to talk to the District Managers in your areas. Tell them you’d like to see action on recycling, and tell them what you think about some of the products starbucks is coming out with and your fear for the enviroment.

Whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE IT OUT ON THE BARISTAS. There is NOT a lot we can do unless we take on the expense–yes, it DOES cost a business money to recycle, and it costs us money to take things FROM a business to recycle–on ourselves to recycle the plastics, paper, and glass that comes through the store.

13 years ago

Guess I’m not the only one who fell off the plastic-free wagon this past month. Cept my vice was horrible styrofoam…

13 years ago

Kettle’s Sea Salt and Vinegar chips… I try to reserve them as a special treat but sometimes there’s no stopping me!

13 years ago

Re: Starbucks, I’ve tried to get them to put in a recycle container for the glass bottles the Izzi seltzer drinks come in. No, I was told. Why? Because it would be in the way. Because the main office… Because ummm. A few lame excuses and now I just take stuff home and recycle it. But here they are now talking about instant Starbucks coffee and new innovations. I’m still waiting for Starbucks to come up to green speed and recycle plastic, paper, glass. How hard can that be? Really a business doesn’t “deserve” our dollars if it cannot acknowledge the environmental/green trends and manifest them in their shops. Guess responsibility lies with the consumers to fall into the punish/reward mode to prod businesses into the 21st century.

13 years ago

LOL Beth ate fritos!!!

The world will now self destruck in 3-2-1

What? Your still here? The world ended. Go now Go

See Beth- you enjoyed the cheetos and the world did not end because of 1 slip up (well ok 6 slip ups)

13 years ago

I sympathize with you on the hot cheetos. Around my family, we serve them for dessert.

13 years ago

So Cheetos are your kryptonite, eh? Maybe the salt? I go nuts over Fritos and we all know that nobody can eat just one potato chip!

Welcome home.

I always try to share good/bad news on the plastic front. Today it is bad news and the culprit is Starbuck’s. Take a look at the photos I took in front of the local Starbuck’s. The nested cups are the ones that were visible on top of the pile. Imagine how many more were below in the barrel?

I dropped in there today and asked for the manager. Not there. I left my photo collage and my phone number. How can a company that bills itself as progressive not have plastic recycling? How can people be so oblivious that they fill a trash barrel with recyclables (note that everything you can see is recyclable). Global warming, oil spill in the Gulf, no matter – the American Lifestyle goes on without a pause.

Condo Blues
13 years ago

Welcome to the Human Race Beth! With my summer CSA I to my very pleasant surprise I cut down my plastic waste to only 4 items a week.!

I started off OK last weekend at The Ohio State Fair. I brought my own water bottle and ate local low waste food. Somehow money was exchanged and 10 plastic packaged Ohio honey sticks made it into my tote bag. I also got a free bucket made from recycled plastic from a green energy booth because I needed a sturdy bucket.

My dog likes to ride in the bucket. Photos were taken. It is cute.

13 years ago

oh how I love flammin hot cheetos! It is the one thing I demand all visitors bring me from the states. Fortunately the distance limits my ability to over-indulge, though if they ever start selling them in the UK, I’ll be in big trouble!