February 21, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett, Week 3

Becca's & Gordon's plastic waste

Name: Becca Ryals and Gordon Bennett

Week: 3

Personal Info:

Read Becca and Gordon’s full description in their Week 1 Challenge post.

Total items: 54

Total weight: 1.475

Items: Recyclable
shampoo and conditioner bottles (6)
– pet odor and stain remover bottle
– bottle of bathroom cleaner
(all purchased before we started the plastics challenge)

Items: Nonrecyclable
(new)
– straw from Saturn kombucha
– 5 toothpicks with plastic decoration from Saturn
– 4 windows from envelopes (not addressed to us!)
– plastic bubble packaging from Gordon’s new electric razor (to replace disposable razors)
– packaging from Gordon’s new electric razor (to replace disposable razor)
– jolly rancher wrapper (the worst!)
– banana stickers and plastic wrap on top of the bunch

(old)
– disposable razors (4)
– toilet paper wrappers
– soy milk carton
– snack bags — corn nuts, pretzels, trail mix
– Ziploc bags (2)
– Packaging for pocket knife
– Packaging for candles
– Bulk bag with hole in it
– Three individually wrapped toothpicks (have no idea where we got them from)
– A bit of bubble wrap from something long ago
– Two lids from old cans of protein powder
– bag of dried beans
– toothpaste (3)
– wrapping on dry erase board
– package for rice noodles
– ant trap
– tampon wrapper (switched to paper NatraCare instead of plastic wrapped NatraCare)
– plastic bag for cat litter (will switch to biobags or compost when our supply runs out)
– medicine wrapper

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
– Most of the items are easily replaceable. Some examples are:
– toothpaste can be replaced brands that have metal containers with plastic top
– beans can be bought in bulk. We just got cloth bags from etsy
– jolly rancher. That was just a stupid mistake. I walked past the candy jar at work, and without even thinking grabbed a jolly rancher, popped it in my mouth. It wasn’t until I threw the wrapper away that I realized that, of course, it was wrapped in plastic. I don’t really even like jolly ranchers.
– Corn nuts. We can buy those and other snacks in bulk at Berkeley Bowl.
– Ant trap. we don’t like using them anyway, but we had a really bad ant problem when the rains started earlier in the year.
– Plastic bag — we have been using old plastic bags for our cat litter. Once our stash runs out, we will either switch to biobags or try composting.
– Straw — we’ve been asking for “no straw,” but Gordon forgot one time. We also didn’t think to ask for “no toothpick” in our sandwich.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
– Many of the plastics we produced this week were purchased before we started the challenge and we can do without or find plastic-free/less alternatives. Soymilk might still be an issue, although we are thinking about springing for a soymilk maker to make our own.
– Of the new plastics we produced this week, we can avoid straws and toothpicks, and we ask the post office to stop giving us other people’s junk mail. We will still get a minimal amount of our own mail with plastic windows, although we have called a few places to request email only correspondences. We were aware that the bananas had a produce sticker when we bought them, but we didn’t even notice that the top of the bunch was wrapped in plastic wrap. We don’t get bananas that often, so it wouldn’t be hard to stop buying them or to buy a different bunch.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
– We bought an electric razor to replace disposable razors, but it came packaged in a lot of plastic. We are glad about the purchase because it will prevent using ~20 razors per year plus their packaging. For such future purchases though, we can call ahead and request minimal plastic packaging.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
– Plan ahead!
– Eat out less.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
shampoo bottles. we plan on buying bulk from now on!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
This was a bit of a disappointing week with way too much plastic — new and old. We did a major cleaning this weekend, so we ended up disposing of a lot of plastic that we had laying around, like empty bottles of shampoo and spent razors just hanging out in the shower, packaging from stuff we haven’t thrown out yet, and other miscellaneous stuff. We also produced a lot of new plastic, primarily from a lot of packaging with a new electric razor. It’s our hope that the net effect a new electric razor is positive in that we avoid throwing away a lot of disposable razors in the future.
shmellows, I’m responsible for driving the demand for them.

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