September 20, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Alice Martel, Week 1


Plastic Challenge Week 1

Suggestions on vegetarian products, snacks (bought and easy to make at home), cat products… for now. I’ll see as the weeks go.

Location:Hull, Quebec, Canada

Name: Alice Martel

Week: 1

Personal Info:

Woman, 33, vegetarian, dark green when it comes to the environment, I work as a dishwasher in a hotel that is becoming greener every day – very happy about that! :) … been with my boyfriend for 8 years, living together, 7. Website/Links: , Twitter:!/ayleesha

Alice Martel’s personal blog:

Total items: 44

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
– V8 Bottle: I have 3 left, I think (#1)
– Source Yogurt Container and lid (both #5)
– Fruitsation Applesauce container: I have 12 left – had bought them for when I went camping in August (#7). I usually buy the big glass containers
– Meow Mix wet cat food cup: When done with them, switching to tin cans (#5)
– Bento Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl: My boyfriend bought me this and forgot about my plastic challenge (#7) – next time I will let him eat it.
– Small Natura soymilk container (does that contain plastic?) – had bought this for camping, have some left – will keep them for on-the-go.
– Maybe a cottage cheese container? We have a cafeteria at work and salad bar and
the cottage cheese came from there (1/4 cup twice)

Items: Nonrecyclable

– V8 bottle cap and ring
– Arm & Hammer Toothpaste tube
– Cracker bags (President’s Choice)
– 3 Quaker Yogurt Bars wrappers. My boyfriend bought them. I see them, I eat them.. ugh.
– Nutri-Grain Bar wrapper. Diddo.
– Tissue box plastic film – Don’t think I can do hankies.
– 2 Crunchie Bar wrappers (they were my boyfriend’s and I was baaaad)
– Mr. Noodles packaging (only had the noodles, not the seasoning)
– Tubes (yogurt) wrappers
– Piece of glad wrap (or whatever it’s called) – from work in the cafeteria, covering at piece of cheesecake. Mmmm. Ok, think of other thoughts!
– 2 small Kraft peanut butter containers – I decided to bring my own peanut butter in a reusable container now.
– 8 small Becel margarine containers (I have brought my own containers with my own Becel butter from home when I saw how much waste I created).
– Plastic wrap/tape on the Bento Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl & the lid (#6)
– McDonald lid (#6). It was my boyfriend’s – I had a sip
– Soymilk container’s straw and wrapper.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
– V8: Cans instead of bottles
– Cat food in tin cans
– Toothpaste in metal tubes (which is what I had before, I ran out of my Tom’s of Main toothpaste, and my boyfriend gave my his almost done tube because he wanted to try a new one).
– Applesauce in glass jars

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
– Yogurt: Try to make my own
– Butter: Try to make my own… I think I’m going to love this one
– Peanut: Diddo, maybe. I have a glass jar at home (not done yet) but the lid is non-recyclable plastic
– Try to make my own nut milks (I made some before – it was good, had bought some kind of bag where you can strain the nut who’ve been soaking, and one time it was hanging over the sink off of a cupboard handle and while I was at work, the sewage got backed up and it spewed all over my bag and the counter – not pretty – haven’t found another bag like that – haven’t looked all that hard – was a little discouraged by what had happened. Gonna look for another soon!!
– Make more of my meals at home, instead of prepared foods
– Stop eating my boyfriend’s snacks!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Not sure yet

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Try a lot of the tips on the Plastic-Free Guide

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
When I run out of the stuff I have, V8 bottles, for starters… plus a lot of other stuff.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Oh my God, us humans waste so much!

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14 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Alice Martel, Week 1"

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Juicer: Awesome idea… I have one and used to make my juices all the time. I will definitely start again. Smoothies: Also made smoothies all the time too. Fruits, veggies, oatmeal, grains/seeds, etc. When my boyfriend would peel cucumbers or potatoes (he hates the peels), I would ask him to keep the peels for me and I would had them to my mix. Hankies: Thanks for the links Beth! Will looks at them when I have time – so many things to do! :) Veggies burgers: When I will have the time, I will look into making my own veggie… Read more »

If your health-food store has a deli, you might find some minimally processed and packaged “meat substitutes,” such as bean cakes or seasoned tofu made on site. Yum.

For environmental (besides plastic) and health reasons, I’d recommend not looking into “meat substitutes”. (1) They’re all in plastic, and very processed. There are studies that show that processed vegetarian products are the same or less environmentally friendly in terms of using resources as organic (non-factory-farm) animal products – e.g., water and energy for production and packaging. (2) Whole foods (nuts, beans, whole grains) will provide plenty of protein. I’ve read a lot of things that say most Americans get at least twice as much protein as they need, and your body uses calcium to process excess protein – so… Read more »
Re: protein, we get legumes and nuts from the bulk bins. Cook up a big batch of bean soup, lentil stew, red beans and rice, or whatever, then freeze some and have some for the next few days. Good idea on snacks from the bulk bins! I think maybe the previous poster meant get a *juicer* instead of V8? I tend to think it’s better (healthwise and waste-wise) to eat the whole fruit or vegetable, so I do smoothies and only have juice as a special treat. I just use a regular blender. Hankies just go in the wash with… Read more »

Hi Alice, I’m still in the wannabe stage, so I applaud your start and look forward to your progress!

My husband and I have a question: what’s the alternative to the plastic bag for picking up after the pooch on our walks? Suggestions?

Thanks Pheas! Yeah, popcorn, that is how I am planning on buying it next time…. Mmmm… gonna go make some popcorn now, with a bit of olive oil! Yum! In the last plastic tub I will ever have! I guess I can try hankies at home and at work out of sight of others (I know I will get weird looks, some people already think I am nuts, LOL). Do you wash them snot and all? Or rinse before? Veggies and nuts, etc. I already eat as snacks, and after a while of too much of those, I have it… Read more »

Alice, you could also try Hankybook, which makes carrying cloth easier: /2011/02/hankybook-cleverly-replaces-disposable-tissues-like-kleenex/

I highly suggest making your own butter, especially if you have access to fresh cream that you can get in glass bottles that can be returned when they are empty. It’s easier than you think – the first time I did it, I wrote about it here: if you wanna check it out.

Remember, do what you feel comfortable doing for now, and then do more once that is easy!

Good luck.

Thanks for the tips Lori! Some questions:

1. How is parchment paper green? What can I do with it after I use it?

2. I will try to convince my boyfriend about the snacks, but ha! it’s gone be a tough one!

3. Buy a juice what instead of V8?

For crunchy snacks, try veggies (carrots, celery, radishes). They keep well in a jar in the fridge. Or nuts. I mix up walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds for a nutrient-dense snack. Popcorn (from the bulk bin in my own jar) is also good.

Don’t knock hankies without trying. I’ve been using them for years and couldn’t go back to flimsy, soggy tissues now (though I make a rare exception for severe colds when sneezing and blowing outpaces laundry). I find beautiful embroidered and lace-edged hankies for cheap at antique stores.

Oooh… Lush Toothy Tabs, I might try that! They have a store in Ottawa, ON not far from me (Hull, QC). Is a peanut grinder the same as coffee grinder? Because I have that. I’ve never used it for coffee, only grains and seeds. So, grind peanuts and it becomes a paste? As for vegetarian stuff, I don’t have problems with veggies, although I welcome tips and ideas, but I meant like veggie burgers, dogs, etc, like anything with protein because I don’t eat meat. But I do eat eggs and some diary products. As soon as I find metal… Read more »

My suggestions-

read Fast Food Nation
stop eating fast food
parchment paper or eco lunch pouches instead of the plastic wrap
find your boyfriend a new snack food, maybe make granola bars together!
buy a juice, get rid of the gross and unhealthy v8

Hi Alice. Welcome to the challenge! I have some ideas and comments for you, and most likely other participants will too. :-) First, you may want to rethink switching to metal cans and toothpaste tubes. Yes, they are more recyclable than most plastics. But they are lined with BPA, which is a hormone-disruptor, so they may be even less healthy than other kinds of plastic containers. Here are a few other toothpaste ideas: /2011/08/searching-for-the-perfect-all-natural-plastic-free-toothpaste-or-powder-or-soap-or/ I like your ideas for making your own snacks, nut milks, etc. Maybe focus in those areas first? Does your local Whole Foods or health food… Read more »