January 9, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Beth Terry, Week 1


Location:Oakland, California, United States

Name: Beth Terry

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am the founder of MyPlasticfreeLife.com and have been collecting my plastic and attempting to live as plastic-free as possible since June of 2007. Last year, I collected my plastic but did not post tallies regularly. This year, I plan to post a tally each week on the challenge web site.


List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)

1) Take-out sandwich wrappers. I brought my Lunchbots container with me to a local sandwich shop a few times this week when I didn’t have time to make lunch at home.

2) Plastic bread wrapper. Bought a loaf of Semifreddi’s sourdough bread in a paper bag. More often, I bring my own cloth bag to a local bakery and avoid any disposable bag at all.

3) Grocery packaging. Bought corn flakes, prunes, pearled barley, and chocolate covered almonds from bulk bins in my own reused bags instead of buying pre-packaged foods or plastic bulk bags.  Also bought tomato paste in a glass jar instead of a BPA-lined can.

4) Plastic envelope windows from bank statements and other bills that I receive online.

5) Coffee cups and lids. Made my own coffee at home (coffee beans purchased from bulk bins) or brought my mug with me.

6) Tater tots in a plastic bag. Made my own. /2012/01/homemade-tater-tots-recipe/

7) Wine with a plastic cork or plastic wrapper. Chose Sutton Cellars wine that comes completely 100% plastic-free. Will blog about this winery in a future post.

8) Oh, and of course, plastic shopping bags!  I bring my own bags with me whenever I leave the house — always have a few ChicoBags and reused folded paper bags in my purse, so I am never caught without a bag.

Total items collected: 8

Total weight: .4 oz

Items: Recyclable
1) Expired VISA credit card – recyclable via http://www.earthworkssystem.com/Consumers/

Items: Nonrecyclable
2-5) Cap, neck, pull tab, and wrapper from glass bottle of Spectrum sunflower oil used to make homemade tater tots. Never again.

6) Plastic seal from around a glass jar of Better Than Bouillon soap base.

7-8) Two plastic envelope windows from Kaiser Permanente and Visa – for my new credit card. (Otherwise, I get statements online.)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I will never again use an entire bottle of oil to fry a few potatoes. No more deep frying for me. Also… I may have been able to find the oil in bulk at Rainbow Grocery if I had not been so impulsive.

I could make my own vegetable broth instead of using Better Than Bouillon, but that’s honestly probably never going to happen. I do have an awesome guest poster coming up this week who will explain how she makes homemade broth.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
The sunflower oil.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
None are essential. Some are convenient.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Rethinking what truly makes me happy. Tater tots? Not as much as I thought.

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10 years ago

I love better than bouillon! And it has way less plastic than all the cartons of broth it replaces.

10 years ago

If the gift card/member card doesn’t contain any personal information, Best Buy has kiosks at the entrance of their store and they recycle gift cards. You just drop them in a bin. They also recycle plastic bags, CDs/DVDs, ink cartridges and random electricial cords (like the kind you acquire from computers and cameras). Thanks for the info on Earthworks! I’m excited to start using them for credit and account cards.

10 years ago

Yes, thanks Beth for posting the info on Earthworks, and thanks Margaret for checking on the exact question I was going to ask! Darn, I just threw out an old health insurance card I now wish I’d saved to send to those guys! I shall have to start a gathering place for all of our plastic cards like that. Beth, have you had any experience with discussing Earthworks with businesses you go to? Just wondering if folks have been open to the idea. I think I shall have to bring the information with me when next we have a gift card to use!

10 years ago

Oh, just the reply back from them:

“If you are a consumer and want to recycle cars with us you are welcome to cut them into as many pieces you like. Thanks for recycling!”

10 years ago

Are you cutting up or otherwise protecting your credit card number when you mail it to earthworks? I just emailed them to ask about it too, what they preference is or what they might do when they receive cards.

Kay Pere
10 years ago

So glad you’re posting your regular tallies again! Gives the feeling of connecting with your daily life a bit more. Will tie in well to your book launch.

BTW veggie broth is easy. Just save all the non-spoiled bits and pieces you trim from your washed veggies (broccoli stems, onion ends, bell pepper seeds and stems, mushroom bits, potato peelings, etc). Keep a large container in the freezer for collecting them. When it’s full, put a pot of water on the stove to boil, dump in the veggie trimmings, simmer for a while, and add seasonings to taste. Doesn’t matter if you forget about it while you’re working on other things, just as long as the pot doesn’t boil dry. When it tastes good, pour it through a strainer and put the mushy veggies in the compost. Package up for the freezer. Flavorful liquid for cooking beans, grains, soups, and braising.

10 years ago

Now I have to be doubly sure to read the Plastic Tally digests! Are you no longer going with the idea to post your tally every 4 months?

10 years ago

We keep a bag in the freezer and throw things like chicken skin & bones, vegetable scraps & shellfish shells into it when we acquire them. When the bag is full, it all goes in the stock pot with water & some spices for a few hours. I love it!