April 2, 2014

Plastic Challenge: Jennifer, Week 1

I would love ideas for handling cat litter when compostable/flushable litter is way out of our price range.

Location:Lexington, South Carolina, United States

Name: Jennifer

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am a 28 year old, SAHM of a six month old. We make under $25k, and are on WIC, so that limits some of our grocery choices. I picked a terrible week to start this challenge, as my husband injured his leg and couldn’t drive, so the baby and I were driving him around for his job, and basically living out of our car all week. For this challenge, I am only counting things that I used. I know our household numbers would be appalling, as my husband couldn’t care less about cutting back on plastic, At least we cloth diaper the baby, and she’s breastfed so she makes minimal plastic waste.

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

Seven grocery bags, one set of cutlery with package, two cups, one drinking straw, three drink lids

Total items collected: 59

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Lemonade bottle #1 , seltzer bottle #1, milk jug #2, kefir jug #2. I have no idea how my community recycles items.

Items: Nonrecyclable
Repurposed: Six plastic grocery bags, from previous grocery trips, reused for disposing of cat litter (I used a paper bag one day)
To be reused/repurposed: Popcorn bag, bagel bag, bread bag, two restaurant delivery bags: will use for cat litter or other wet garbage
One egg carton — will be returned to friends who have chickens
Clamshell for grocery store pastries, six drink cups, six drinking straws, five drink lids, two coffee stirrers, nine single serve half-and-half containers, two restaurant sauce cups, sandwich pick, plastic wrap from one bar of soap, tab from bread bag, two battery blister packs, two restaurant delivery containers, one garbage bag, two grout containers, two single serve ketchup packages, one plastic cutlery set with package, one ring from whipped topping tub, two clothing tags

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Lemonade bottle->homemade, popcorn bag->bulk popcorn, or popcorn in glass jar (plastic lid), drinking straws-> bring my glass straw with me, coffee stirrers->bring a spoon from home, plastic cutlery->bring cutlery from home, bagel bag->fresh bagels from bakery instead of packaged, grocery store pastries-> homemade or fresh from counter in paper bag instead of prepackaged, Backcountry soap->Pretty Baby soap, kefir->homemade, whipped cream->homemade

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I would love to give up garbage bags, using other small bags for any wet trash that isn’t compostable.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I don’t know of grout or batteries that come in something other than plastic.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
There’s a whole gamut of changes. From simply planning ahead better (bring my cutlery, drinking straw, cup, etc.), and eating from home or sit-down restaurants instead of delivery or fast food, to making my own clothes (even thrift stores use plastic tags) and getting rid of pets since we can’t afford flushable or compostable litter at this stage in our life. I will work on the former. I am not willing to do the latter.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I will bring my Glass Dharma straw with me whenever I go out to cut out plastic drinking straws!

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
The modern American lifestyle, always on the go, is a big factor in our use of plastic “convenience” items. We take what is offered without really thinking about it.

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