May 10, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Amanda R., Week 24

april plastic

I need new spice jars, and am having trouble finding any that don’t come with plastic shaker tops. Anyone know of a source for just the glass jars with lids? Lids have to be air-tight, so I expect they’ll have plastic linings; am looking for some that don’t cost $10 each (amazing what folks sell online these days).

Location:Tucson, Arizona, United States

Name: Amanda R.

Week: 24

Personal Info:

This is actually weeks 21-24, not just week 24

Total items: 62

Total weight: 8.4 oz.

Items: Recyclable
1 #5 yogurt cup — has to be mailed off
1 grocery bag — target will accept them
2 drycleaner bags — have to go with me to NYC

Items: Nonrecyclable
9 envelope windows
1 bag from inside the chicken with the liver etc. in it
1 piece freezer paper with plastic lining that venison came in
5 milk bottle tops
2 q-tips
3 seals from bottles
1 dead old produce bag
1 peppermint candy wrapper
3 clothing tags
3 #6 tasting / sauce cups
1 label off jar of popcorn
1 bag online clothes came in
4 packaging items from razor and blades online
1 other piece of packing tape
1 broken coffee scoop
1 sticker from AAA
1 deodorant
1 wrapper from deodorant crystal
1 lining from bag of coffee
1 dry yeast envelope
1 salad dressing mix envelope (plastic lined)
1 goat cheese pkg
3 beer bottle caps
1 tie from organic greens
1 chocolate wrapper
1 spout from vinegar bottle
1 magnet that came in the mail
2 wrappers from decks of playing cards
1 sticker off new credit card reminding me to activate it
1 pop-cycle wrapper
3 small bags, provenance unknown

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
The yeast has been mostly replaced with sourdough, though for some recipes it’s nice to have real yeast. I used to be able to buy this in a glass jar, but am now only finding single-serving envelopes like this one…

The label on the popcorn jar was unfortunate — but now it’s refilled with bulk popcorn!

The coffee tricked me — it looked like a paper bag; turned out to be lined. I know other sources that are genuinely just paper, so won’t be buying coffee by the pound from Ike’s any more.

Broken coffee scoop is replaced with stainless steel.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Stupid taster cups. One was from a street fair where I misunderstood what I was being offered, so that’s my fault; the other 2 are from a pretty nice restaurant that unexpectedly brought my salad dressing and sauce for fries in them — I tried to refuse the second one, and the waitress wouldn’t take it back :(

This was the subject of the letter I wrote for the glass dharma campaign (the place also gives out straws, though I remembered to make that request) — we’ll see if they respond…

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
– Milk bottle tops

– I got venison from my friend who killed the dear, and as I think that’s about the best way ever to get meat, I don’t begrudge him the packaging. There’ll be another next month, when I eat the venison sausages…

– The yogurt; as I get better at making my own yogurt, I’m learning more about how often you have to start with fresh starter — you can only take yogurt from your last batch to start the next batch for a few rounds, before the consistency changes (the strains of bacteria weaken, with each batch). This time, I froze ice-cubes of store-bought yogurt to try to make the single starter container last longer, so we’ll see how that goes; also started making kefir as an alternative, which I’m really liking — it doesn’t have this problem.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
– Antiperspirant. I bought one of the deodorant crystals, but it doesn’t function as antiperspirant; I tried combining with baking soda but I’m just not sure yet. (the powder puff I have to apply soda has started to smell like cat urine, which is ammonia; seems chemically predictable, since ammonia, which is in sweat, and soda are both bases; wonder if there’s an acidic substance that functions as antiperspirant?) I’ll keep trying a few weeks longer, see how it goes. Or while in NYC, maybe will go by lush and try out one of the bars…

– Might have to stop buying whole chickens, or just buy the ones that don’t come with their innards. But I really like roasting whole chickens, using the carcass for stock, and I get offended when they don’t include the liver and things because, dammit, a whole chicken should have all its parts! So not quite sure what to do there, except move to a house where I can raise my own chickens…

– Less dry cleaning? I’m going to NYC later this week and am taking all my used dry cleaner bags with me, as well as my collection of #5 plastic, since I’ve found nowhere to recycle either in Tucson.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I will try to go the month without chicken innards, greens that come with a plastic tie, and new yogurt purchases.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
– Packaging materials are tricky — much of my packaging this month was from buying a stainless steel razor (came in a plastic bag in a box inside another box filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts) and blades (came in a box inside a bubble-wrap envelope). I’m saving the peanuts for my future packing needs, and I wrote emails to both companies explaining why I was disappointed in their packaging, but
no responses.

– The two grocery bags are old ones that have been reused many times and are now in tatters. I will eventually need an alternative to storing food air-tight, when I run out of old bags. For instance, I bake my own bread, slice it and wrap in tinfoil, but I always then put it in a plastic bag before it goes in the freezer, to protect from moisture.

– Finally, can I just say, FIRST MONTH WITHOUT TOSSING OUT A TRASH BAG! I’m so proud of my worms.

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