January 17, 2016

Plastic Challenge: Aimee Bowe, Week 1

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Any ideas for alternatives to buying the following, which normally come in plastic containers, here anyway:

dental floss
cat treats & catnip
“rubber” spatulas
1st Aid-related items like bandaids, Rubbing Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, medications

Location:  Brooklyn, NY, United States

Name: Aimee Bowe

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am a female in my 40s living with my husband and our cats in an apartment. No children. I am currently in between having finished school and starting a new job, so I’ve been home a lot lately.

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
Cucumbers wrapped in plastic (why??)
Plastic take-out containers
Loaf of bread in plastic bag
Plastic bags for groceries
Plastic bags offered at stores where I made purchases
Plastic sticker at museum
Yogurt in plastic container (opted for glass jar of yogurt instead)
Plastic flash drives (they were available in metal instead)
Honey in plastic jar

Total items collected: 28

Total weight: ?

Items: Recyclable
Hummus container (1)
Orange juice bottle (1)
Sour cream container (5)
Deli food container + lid (5)
Grape tomato container (1)

I have no idea how things get recycled here once they are picked up by the sanitation department…

Items: Nonrecyclable
-4 bags (each contained 1 new pillow)
-2 large plastic bags used for shipping (each contained 2 of the bags of pillows) :(
-1 large bag of cat food
-1 large bag of feline pine cat litter
-1 bag of tortilla chips (deceptive marketing – outside of bag is paper, but when you open it, it’s lined with plastic inside. :(
-1 bag of bird seed
-1 bag of cat treats
-1 bag of crumpets
-1 bag that contained cabbage (my husband bought)
-1 vacuum-sealed bag of fish
-1 auxiliary cable that had plastic in the packaging
-1 bag of dried mango
-1 lid to orange juice bottle
-1 lid to hummus container
-1 lid to sour cream container
-3 pieces of plastic that were wrapped around metal flash drives

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Cat food could be purchased in paper bag
Cat litter could be purchased in paper bag
Tortilla chips?? I *think* they could be found in paper bags, but now I’m not so sure!
Cabbage – we usually don’t buy any plastic-wrapped veggies
Hummus – we could make it (although dried beans are sold in plastic bags…) :( I supposed we could use canned beans.
Fish – could be bought fresh at farmer’s market
Orange juice could be purchase in concentrated cardboard containers

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Crumpets – not a usual purchase

Sour cream…could I make it??

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Okay, cat treats are not essential, except that at times they are the only way to appease one of our cats when he wakes us in the night or to lure him away from destructive behavior…

These would be hard to give up for those reasons.

I also love to feed the birds, but don’t know of any bird seed sold in paper…

Not sure that new pillow are “essential,” but this was an unusual / splurge purchase and I’m not sure you can buy pillows that are not wrapped in plastic…although I could have bought them in the store and not had the additional plastic bags used in shipping.

Auxiliary cable – debatable whether it’s “essential,” but we wanted this one so that we could play music.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
1. Make more things that can be made at home (bread, hummus, yogurt, deodorant, toothpaste…)

2. Do without certain luxury items like dried mango and “fresh” orange juice

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
From here on out I will buy bars of soap. We have a few plastic soap dispensers, which of course we refill from larger bottles MADE OF PLASTIC. :(

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
1. Ordering items online is convenient, but comes with lots of plastic materials in shipping.

2. There are many items in my apartment that could be phased out and replaced with non-plastic versions (although in some cases it might be better to just continue using the plastic version we have than put it in the trash (example cat water dish…): razors, toothbrush, lotions bottles, hangers, shampoo bottles (use bar shampoo), catnip (grow it), flushable cat litter instead of scooping it into plastic bags and throwing it away…

3. Ordering takeout is possible without using their plastic containers…ask that they put the food in a container you’ve brought along instead.

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