November 11, 2009

Karey Harris, Week 1

See Jane Do plastic

Week #: 1
Name: Karey Harris

I’m a female living in a single family home in Maryland. I have one roommate, and work about 3 miles from my home. I have no children, and as of yet, there are no options at my job to telecommute.

List of Recyclable Items

My county, in an effort to make their website more user-friendly, makes finding the numbers accepted rather difficult… they do however list the TYPES of plastics recyclable (Plastic bags & shrink wrap, cups, plates, utensils, etc)

* Bottle of Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil- number 1
* Two plastic cups- number 6
* Two plastic grocery bags- number 4 (The county might take them, but I usually save them and take them to the store later)
* One plastic Gordon’s Jewelery bag- number 2 (The County says they take it, but I did not know that!!)

List of Non-recyclable Items

* Two contact lens cases
* One plastic container of dressing from Chick-fil-a
* Two black plastic dressing containers from a restaurant (only one is pictured)
* Four plastic envelope windows
* One bag of cat food
* Some plastic that flowers came in
* Two twizzler wrappers
* One string cheese wrapper
* Three straws (only two are pictured)
* Three drink lids (only one is pictured)

Total number of items: 26! :(

Tally analysis

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?

I saw the link to glass straws, so if I was carrying that around, I could eliminate the plastic there.

The candy and cheese were all 100% impulse. The candy could be bought in bulk instead of individually wrapped (thank you, vending machines.) The cheese could be bought in a different form, like sliced from the deli.

I’m usually pretty good about grocery shopping with my cloth bags, but I forget about them in convenience stores and the like. Those could easily be replaced.

Plastic cups/lids are easily replaced if I could remember to bring my reusable bottle everywhere. Like the grocery bags, I have one, and I’m USUALLY pretty good, but not always…

There might be a paper cat food bag out there… but I’m really hesitant to switch foods for her, since she does so well on it!

All of my bills are paperless; I don’t know how to get people to stop sending me mail that I don’t want! There must be a way…

It would be easy to ask for no plastic at dinner, if I could remember.

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

Drink lids and straws would be easy on most days.

I really should give up on candy.

The dressing when I’m out is usually unnecessary

I don’t need flowers (these were a gift…)

How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?

Three- the two Twizzlers, and the string cheese

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

Possibly the cat food bag, depending on my willingness to experiment, and the bottle of Vegetable Oil.

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

I would have to be better at remembering to bring my reusable containers around with me, and asking for no plastic at restaurants.

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

Food wrappers!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

I’m amazed — I feel like I ate out a lot more than usual this week, but this was a lot more plastic than I was expecting. And I’m pretty good about packing lunches in reusable containers, grocery shopping with cloth bags, etc. What does this look like for people who don’t do that?

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