July 30, 2013

Plastic Challenge: Elle M, Week 1



I would love some local resources in Chicago. I am most bummed about having to stop supporting my local farmers with grass-fed/organic meat. We do eat a little meat and fish in our house, and I usually buy it from local farmers, but they all wrap it in plastic. I have asked every farmer I can find, and they all say it has to be in plastic. If anyone knows otherwise, I would love to listen. Also looking for pasta. I have found some with less plastic, but the box still has a window. And why is it that food from the bulk bins at Whole Foods is more expensive than their packaged counterparts? That is incredibly frustrating and tough on the budget.

Location:Oak Park, Illinois, United States

Name: Elle M

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am Elle, mom of 2 young girls (2.5, 6mos as of July ’13). I have been slowly trying to reduce my plastic usage for a year or so, but am finally joining the challenge. I wish I had joined earlier so that I could see progress, but I let fear get in the way. My whole family of 4 is doing the challenge together, including two young children.

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
Mailing packaging
Lidded kids cup in restaurant
disposable dishes/utensils/cups at a BBQ
food containers (Falafel place owner is reconsidering his packaging because of us!)
tortilla chip bag
veggie burger bag
bread bags
probably others I can’t recall

Total items collected: 21

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
vinegar bottle (#2)

Items: Nonrecyclable
junk mail (3)- this paper can be recycled, but I’m not sure what they do with the windows
Annie’s mac & cheese packet
Applesauce jar label (jar was glass, but there is a plastic label)
avocado bag
choc. covered pretzel bag
vitamin wrapper
vitamin seals (2)
steak wrappers (2)
plastic strips from mailers (3)
Goodwill clothing hangtags
frozen strawberry bag-might be recyclable with plastic grocery bags. I’m not sure.
unidentified wrappers (2)
broken plastic piece from my wipes container
produce stickers (will mail them to an artist who uses them)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
vinegar, but it will be more expensive
choc covered pretzels
applesauce jar label
steak wrappers
mac & cheese- could find the cheese without the plastic packet, but I am having trouble finding noodles without plastic, so not sure which is better.
clothing hangtags maybe. There might be some thrift stores without these or mom-to-mom sale options without any tags

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
junk mail- I’ve been trying to get off lists.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
frozen strawberry bag. My husband loves to make smoothies with frozen strawberries. He buys the big bags at Costco, so at least it is less packaging.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Stop shopping at Costco and start shopping from the bulk bins.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

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2 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Elle M, Week 1"

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I hear you Elle! It baffles me why buying bulk at Whole Foods is more expensive than buying in packaging. Guess the oil prices aren’t high enough to make it economical. I’ve been tempted to talk to a store manager at Whole Foods to ask why or write a comment card. I live in Chicago too, so maybe if enough of us make point of expressing that we want affordable bulk prices, maybe it could change?

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

I have the same issue with my CSA, meat comes in plastic. The only way I can pick up meat free of plastic is if I bring in my container to Whole Foods and ask them nicely to place the meat inside of my glass container.