January 3, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Kay Pere, Week 2



WEEK 2: I was on a medically necessary bland diet and prep for surgery. (All went well and I’m feeling GREAT now, BTW). Does anyone know of a homemade plastic-free alternative equivalent to Gatorade? Anything has got to taste better than that stuff!

Location:Mystic, Connecticut, United States

Name: Kay Pere

Week: 2

Personal Info:

Week 2: I’ve tracking of my plastic trash during a time when there’s sure to be more than usual do to the holidays and a health thing. This batch is from the week before Christmas when I wasn’t feeling well and was on a special bland diet, also went for outpatient surgery.

There are things in this pile that, with any luck, won’t show up here any time soon. Broth and Gatorade are not things I would choose to consume under normal circumstances, but we do what we have to do.

I’m grateful for good medical care, but am also mindful that it involves a lot of plastic. The care I received did it’s healing magic and I’m now 100% better!

I am a multidimensional performing songwriter, visual artist, activist, writer, and educator whose work embodies a message of hope, healing, humor & humanity. Along with my husband, we live a quiet little life in our Mystical corner of New England.

Kay Pere’s personal blog: http://www.kaypere.com

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
Week 2 Total: 17 Items (1st Week Reporting)
Cumulative Total: 17 Items

– 8-10 strings Christmas tree lights died this year, so we decided not to replace them. Didn’t miss them at all!
– 6 Ensure bottles replaced with Solgar soy protein isoflavone drink powder from a 24 serving canister. Tastes better and better for me.
– Didn’t buy a new plastic gel-filled hot/cold pad from CVS to replace the old one that ruptured last week. Made a grain filled one out of things I had on hand instead. I like it better!

Total items collected: 40

Total weight: NA

Items: Recyclable
-2 1-gallon milk jugs
-2 cartons of broth
(If I’d been feeling better I would have thawed homemade broth from the freezer)
-3 plastic grocery bags [not shown]
(grateful for husband helping with grocery shopping)
-2 plastic produce/bakery bags
-1 bottle Gatorade
-1 OTC medicine bottle
-part of an old fruit juice bottle we’d been using to hold pens and pencils by the phone

-1 perforated produce bag from grapes (reuse for sharing garden produce with friends)
-1 zipper bag from tortillas (reuse for storing non-food items: sets of cloth napkins, whole grain filled hot/cold pad, etc.)
-1 sheet credit card-like coupons for Yankee Candle that came in mail (I didn’t ask for these! Will find a use for them)
-1 expired credit card
-green plastic wrapper from “get well” gift flowers (like the color, added this to my plastic-to-crafts stash)
-1 prescription pill bottle shown in wrong pile (we use these to collect change, tiny craft supplies, loose hardware, also washed can send to medical missionaries overseas.)
-2 straws (was on post-surgical pain meds at hospital, didn’t think to refuse them)

Items: Nonrecyclable
-2 plastic lined paper bags from whole grains (had these in the cupboard for several years, used grain to fill homemade hot/cold pad instead of buying a new plastic one to replace old one that broke)
-1 iceberg lettuce wrapper
-1 brie cheese wrapper and plastic label
-3 plastic envelope windows (have begun looking into switching to electronic only banking)
-2 hospital ID bracelets
-2 graham cracker wrappers from hospital
-5-6 heart monitor contacts
-2 pull tabs and liners from broth carton spouts
-1 bag from gift flowers
-1 ziplock bag reused for things kept in purse, got too dirty, originally contained home-dried apples sent by a relative.
-misc unidentifiable small plastic scraps

NOT SHOWN (not included in total)
-12 pair (estimated) medical gloves used by doctors and nurses
-Various IV tubing, needles and bags, drapes, gown, masks and hairnets, individual pill wrappers, etc

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
-Continued to use Solgar soy protein drink mix from canister makes to replace bottles of Ensure
-Made 2 freezable/microwavable hot/cold pads sewn from pieces an old t-shirt, filled with whole grains stored too long to taste good for cooking. Did this instead of spending $20 to replace the plastic gel hot/cold pad I broke last week with another plastic one.

-Have started to look into online banking and bill paying to reduce inflow of plastic windowed envelopes.
-Homemade broth, which I have, can be thawed with just a little bit of advance planning if I need to go on a special diet again.
-Make my own tortillas instead of using store bought. I taught myself how to do this in 2011!
-Buy whole grains in bulk in my own containers and freeze to keep fresh.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
-No more new Christmas tree lights!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
-milk jugs: no glass bottles available without 10-15 mile each way drive
-plastic prescription bottles: our pharmacy won’t reuse
-vitamin & OTC med bottles
-plastic associated with medical appointments and procedures
-Iceberg lettuce, only lettuce husband likes. He doesn’t like other kinds of lettuce if he knows they’re there, so I cut up healthier leaf lettuces (which can be bought without plastic) and hide them among the iceberg. Sssshhhh! Don’t tell!

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I’m hoping that my plastic use will decrease as I return to good health.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Didn’t buy a plastic gel-filled hot/cold pad from CVS, though I looked at them. Made a new one with things I already had. It works better than my old store bought one! And smells nicer, too.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
It’s difficult to reduce plastic use while dealing with health challenges. At times like those I appreciate the convenience provided by ready-made things. I’m also grateful for easy access to good medical care and a return to health.

Leave a Reply

9 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Kay Pere, Week 2"

Notify of

I bet they used a whole lot more then 12 pairs of gloves, haha. It makes me sad how much waste there is in the medical field. I look at every single thing I use on a daily basis on the ambulance and unfortunately, I haven’t seen much we can do without.

The number 1 replentisher which has more than 30 years of sales/use is Emergency-c. Contains 1,000 mg Vit C, 24 nutrients with antioxidants, electrolights & 7 b vitamins. Available at most health food stores for about $.35 per glass. Check: http://www.emergenc.com

That’s true, except that Emergen-C comes in little plastic packets, and we are trying to avoid plastic packaging. I used to take Emergen-C. I wish they’d at least package the powder in a bulk jar instead of individual servings.


Your recipe (plus the 4 cups water) sounds perfect! The last 2 days of the diet I was on specified only clear liquids. I’ve since learned that it’s possible to juice a lemon without pulp or seeds. You put half a lemon inside a clean dishtowel, twist the towel and squeeze. Voila! (Been watching Julia Child’s videos while recovering.)

Oops! I’m so glad you caught that! You’re supposed to add water to make 4 cups. I think I added a bunch more lemon juice on one occasion.

Beth: Thanks for the suggestions! The bouillion comes in a reduced sodium version, which might work for me, though 500 mg Na per serving is still pretty high. (I’m on an ongoing low sodium diet) If that were my only source of sodium consumed for the day it would probably fine. Perhaps I’ll order some for everyday cooking. The Gatorade recipes also seem like viable options. If I have to do the “clear liquids only, no red/orange/purple/blue coloring, no pulp” thing again, I could probably come up with some alternative without any fruit juice. If I couldn’t add orange juice,… Read more »
Funny you asked about Gatorade — when I was pregnant, my midwife recommended a recipe for “Laborade,” then made a horrible face and said, “Or, you could just use Gatorade if you’d rather.” But this is better, and reminds me of the lemon shake-ups I used to buy at the fair: 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1/3 cup honey to taste (I had better luck with granulated honey) 1/4 tsp salt 2 calcium/magnesium tablets, crushed (or get capsules and open them) Mix well. Store refrigerated for a few days or freeze for later. The calcium and magnesium are important for… Read more »

Julie, that actually sounds delicious. But what is the dilution ratio? This is a concentrate that you mix with water, right?

I looked up Homemade Gatorade. Basically, it’s sodium, potassium, and sugar with flavoring. Check out these recipes:


My almost plastic-free broth solution is Better Than Bouillon: /2011/01/quick-and-almost-plastic-free-broth-soup-base-tip/ It’s just as easy as heating up boxed broth.

Hurray for DIY hot/cold packs.

LOL about hiding the lettuce. I used to hide spices from my first husband — he didn’t like “spices you can see.

Feel better, Kay!