September 20, 2013

Plastic Challenge: Dawn Kearns, Week 1


I know mouthwash is not necessary but I am used to using it. Does anyone have a homemade recipe?

Any suggestions for making homemade yogurt? I have heard of people using their ovens and crock pots but haven’t been brave enough to try it yet.

Any suggestions for dental floss or a brand that isn’t packaged in plastic?

Location:Thornton, Colorado, United States

Name: Dawn Kearns

Week: 1

Personal Info:

My husband, our three year old daughter and I live in the Denver metro area. We both work outside the home and my daughter goes to daycare. We have been changing our consumptions habits for awhile and I was excited to find Beth’s book as well as this challenge. We are working hard to teach our daughter to respect the environment. She loves to pick up trash when we are out and about (not always a good thing), she doesn’t like to send things to the landfill and has told her grandparents not to buy her plastic toys. We compost, so our trash consists mainly of plastic and it has been driving me crazy for awhile now. Hopefully this exercise leads us down the path to reducing that. I am only collecting plastic generate by me and my daughter for this exercise.

Dawn Kearns’s personal blog:

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
I have been refusing plastic bags at stores for a long time now so I am not sure I can count that. I have no problem loading my cart back up if I forget my bags and hauling everything out loose. I keep a Chico bag in my purse which has saved me many times. I took a reusable jar (although it was plastic) to the grocery to buy bulk peanut butter. I have done it a few times before. I try not to go during peak hours so that the cashier is not stressed out by deducting the tare weight. I sometimes ask the manager which cashier will best be able to handle ringing up that item.

Total items collected: 55

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
1 – To Go container (1) – it was made from recycled bottles which was interesting
2 – Blueberry containers (1)
2 – Lids from shredded deli chicken (6)
2 – Bases from shredded deli chicken (5)
2 – Contact lens containers (5)
1 – Small milk bottle (2)
1 – Egg carton (1)
1 – Portion of the lid from the milk that we have delivered (4) – milk is delivered in glass bottles; I am saving the rest of the lids as they can be turned in to benefit schools in the area
1 – Cough syrup bottle (2)
1 – Vitamin C bottle (2)
1 – Fish oil bottle (2)
1 – applesauce container (1)
1 – mouthwash bottle (1)

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 – Lid & label from small milk bottle
1 – Cap from mouthwash bottle
1- Sunscreen tube
1- Princess play shoe – the other one broke and was previously thrown out
1 – Expired parking permit for work
8 – Miscellaneous packages from kid snacks (fruit bars, yogurt in a tube, bars, etc)
3 – String cheese
1 – Fresh Mozzarella package
2 – Packaging from sliced and shredded cheese
1 – Packaging from brie
1 – Bag from chips
2 – Microwave burritos
5 – bags from bread/tortillas; 1 am going to repurpose two of the larger bags
3 – bread ties
1 – envelope
1 – bag from a frozen pizza
3 – plastic from misc. food packaging
1 – package from soccer shin guards

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I bought the eggs with the plastic carton from the dairy that delivers my milk. I was surprised by the plastic so I will go back to buying in the store and recycle the cartons. I am also looking for someone local to buy eggs from so the cartons can be reused.

I have made my own applesauce in the past but I don’t have time for that right now but I am going to look for brands sold in glass after I deplete my current stash.

I want to make my own yogurt but haven’t tried that yet.

See if the deli will let me bring my own container for shredded chicken.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Frozen pizza (I rarely buy it and I only bought this because it was Annie’s and the ingredients were decent)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Although I didn’t run out of this item this week, I find dental floss to be essential.

Vitamins/Supplements – I use vitamins/supplements in place of a lot of over the counter medications and I would find it hard to give them up. The packaging is recyclable and I buy from a company that is certified carbon neutral. Like how I rationalize that?

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
There is a a good bulk store about 30-40 minutes from my house so I may need to make a trip once a month and stock up. I would actually love to open a bulk store but my husband is not yet on board with that.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
My goal this week is to take a container with me each time we go out for a meal. That will eliminate all to go containers. Plastic is bad enough but styrofoam is worse.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I was surprised by the amount of plastic we generated this week and my husband did not even participate in the exercise. I also know that some trash was missed as my daughter does not bring home her plastic from daycare and I didn’t bring all of mine home from work. My daughter’s daycare provides disposable plastic silverware each day. They do not allow them to bring their own cutlery. I am going to ask the director if they will reconsider. There is a lot of work to be done!

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