April 3, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Amanda R, Weeks 13 – 16

Amanda's plastic waste

Name: Amanda

Weeks: 13-16

Personal Info:

Read Amanda’s description in her Week 1 post.

Total items: 56

Total weight: 5.25 oz

Items: Recyclable
1 rebate card — has to be mailed off
5 caps from bottles and tubes — Aveda will accept them

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 trash bag (not pictured)
19 envelope windows
1 meat pkg from CSA
2 bags for greens from CSA
1 gruyere pkg
1 milk bottle tops
2 seals around bottle tops
1 q-tip
1 pkg from bike tire liners
2 bits of pens
1 antibiotic pill card
1 fountain pen cartridge
2 gu pkts
2 candy wrappers
3 clothing tags
1 piece of tape
1 sun glasses from eye doc
1 sticker from windshield reminding me to get an oil change
1 protective cover from cell phone
6 random plastic baggies or bits
1 zipper bag that used to carry my liquids on flights :(

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
– I keep saying I’m going to replace the gu with home-made; I finally did, but these are from a long run while overseas…
– I’ve abandoned CSA, but still had a few lingering bags of greens and frozen meat. Almost done with those.
– I should’ve had my own sunglasses at the eye doc.
– The fountain pen cartridge is the one that came in my fountain pen — I got a separate re-fillable one, which I’m excited about. Of course the ink bottle has a plastic top…

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
– The candy. I don’t even know where it came from — a mini snickers and a lollypop?

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
– The bike tire liner pkg was not essential — but I’m so very tired of having flats nearly once a week. No flats since I put the liners in, so I’m happy with the investment — but do wish there was less packaging
– The see-though bag for liquids on planes. I’ve been using this one for a couple of years, but it finally split along all its seams.
– Bottle tops. I’ve just looked up Aveda’s rules on what they’ll accept, and wish I’d done that sooner!
– Envelope windows are killing me!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Cheese. I just can’t quite give it up fancy cheese.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I think I can make it through the next month without needing to throw out a plastic garbage bag — the composting worms and I seem to have hit our stride. Here’s hoping!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
It’s kind of depressing how much plastic I’m still generating. And I was traveling half of the month!
Traveling was a whole other experience — I baked a loaf of bread and took it on my flight to the South Pacific, along with my water bottle — refused airline food for the 28-hour trip, arrived ravenous but proud of myself! Learned to say “no straw” in French; tried my best to opt for green coconuts instead of plastic cups of juice when possible; tried to choose finger food on napkins rather than plastic plates and cutlery, but on a work trip where protocol is essential, you just can’t make a scene over the utensils your hosts are providing. Still, the juxtaposition of the community groups expressing concern over environmental degradation and protection of their coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and fishing areas while passing out so much disposable plastic was frustrating.

And then on the return trip, I gave in and ate on the plane — couldn’t buy food in the airports that didn’t come wrapped in plastic, and I changed planes in Australia and Fiji, both of which have extremely strict quarantine rules so you can’t even transit through with “hazardous” food products. So really need to probably double the weight for the month!

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