October 7, 2013

Plastic Challenge: Katie Sumner, Week 2


Location:Beavercreek, Ohio, United States

Name: Katie Sumner

Week: 2

Personal Info:

I am a 28 year-old woman and I live in a small house on a half acre lot in Ohio. I work at a used bookstore, love to write, sculpt, draw and read. I’m a beekeeper, vegetarian, native-plant enthusiast and generally considered myself to be pretty eco-minded. I had no idea how huge my plastic footprint was though! What an awakening. With the help of this blog, I’m going to try and reduce my use of plastics as much as I can.

Katie Sumner’s personal blog:

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
I refused a throw-away plastic cup at a restaurant and used their ceramic coffee mug for my iced tea. Refused a straw (and my family followed suit). Refused several bags. I bought a few cotton produce sacks, and reusable cloth sandwich and snack bags, and that’s helped a lot. I decided to go to Earth Fare to get some bulk items (rice, chocolate covered almonds) and used my own mason jars.

Total items collected: 36

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
2 two liter bottles
2 yogurt cups
2 plastic cups from panera
1 plastic container
2 plastic lids
Only 9, I think. Many were plastics that were combined to other materials–like the cardboard/plastic sandwich in my milk jug.

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 Cardboard/plastic milk jug
3 bottle caps
1 weird thing from an aquarium gravel vacuum
1 Hershey bar wrapper
1 cheese stick wrapper
2 Styrofoam take-out containers
1 cardboard/plastic heavy whipping cream box
1 plastic straw wrapper
2 plastic straws
1 shipping package lined with with bubble wrap
8 plastic envelope windows (arrrg, so much junk mail!)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I found that I could buy glass bottles of milk (still with a plastic lid) at Earth Fare and return them to the store when I’m done. I liked using my mason jars at the grocery, so I’ll do that for any bulk dry goods I need. I’m going to try using a diva cup to replace tampons and whatnot. Instead of single serving, plastic-wrapped cheese sticks, I’ll get a larger wedge or small wheel of cheese that should last me a good while. Even the farmers markets cheeses were all plastic wrapped. : I have no idea where or how to find plastic-free cheese.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
My single serving amy’s meals. Junk foods.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Cheese. : Maybe I could try making cheese? I have no experience with that, but maybe?

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Eating seasonally seems like it would help, and cooking a lot more! I realized that probably 90% of the plastic waste I produce comes from the kitchen and the bathroom. Cooking with fresh produce and bulk goods would knock that down a lot.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Don’t know. Just refusing things when and where I can.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I didn’t realize just how much of what I eat are packaged for single serving use. All of my yogurt, all of the cheese sticks, any candy bars and such. It’s pretty disheartening to look at all of the candy on display by a register and to realize all of it is single-use. Also, those stupid plastic windows on junk mail! I’ve opted to go electronic for all of my bills, but I didn’t expect the amount of junk mail I would get. Is there away to keep this crap from coming to me?

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