February 21, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Laura in Maine, Week 3

Laura's plastic waste

Name: Laura

Week: 3

Personal Info:
See full description in Laura’s Week 1 Plastic Challenge post.

Total items: 32

Total weight: 10.3 oz

Items: Recyclable
tofu box #2
Q-tip box #1

Items: Nonrecyclable
insert tray for cracker box
insert bag for same cracker box
insert bag for pretzel box
bread bag with bread wrapper inside
lentil bag
piece of a rice bag
block cheese wrapper
block cheese wrapper
granola bar wrapper
lid to glass peanut butter jar
lid to poppadum crackers
plastic backing to stick on race number
soy milk box with screw on cap
pull tab for soy milk
ladder packaging with tape attached
bumper sticker
plastic bag that Goodwipes came in from Goodwill
3 produce bags that ripped
cellophane wrapper around match box
bag inside match box
lip balm tube
pour spout for olive oil
ring and pull tab inside oatmeal box
seal ring for peanut butter
seal ring for raisin box and peel back lid
seal ring for olive oil
produce stickers
guitar pick tag for new gloves that were a gift
part of the squeaker inside a dog toy
one straw

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
the bread- i have been making bread lately but my partner finished off this bag of sandwich bread and I had eaten some of it a few weeks ago so I’m listing it.
lentils and rice have been purchased in bulk
I don’t even remember eating the granola bar- we have them around because my partner eats them for lunch and they just make it into my mouth sometimes. I’m having trouble finding crunchy carb-y snacks that don’t come in plastic.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
the straw- I forgot to ask for no straw and they brought the drink with the straw already in it. I am also giving up the poppadums because they came in a cardboard box with a plastic lid and even worse, they are made in India, processed in the UK, and then shipped to the US. That’s too much impact for some Indian snack crackers.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
plastic backing to stick on race number- one way or another every race bib I’ve ever seen involved plastic somewhere.

I have 2 items related to matches this week- one box came with a cellophane wrapper on the outside and the other box came with a bag inside.

The ladder packaging- there were only a few ladder choices and we didn’t make the choice based on packaging.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
So far I’ve learned to make loaves of bread, dinner rolls, and biscuits. This week I’m trying sourdough. Food preparation is the biggest part of all this so far.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I bought more handkerchiefs to reduce my Kleenex usage. This won’t eliminate tissues but it will help. I also bought some Goodwipes (those rags from Goodwill, in the PLASTIC bag) to try them out as t.p. This should be an interesting experiment and again, my goal is to reduce t.p. usage but not replace it altogether.
I also ordered some cotton produce/drawstring bags on eBay to use instead of plastic. I reuse those plastic ones but they don’t last forever (especially this week when I killed 3 of them in one trip).

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I went to Natural Living Center in Bangor, ME and bought lots of stuff in bulk. This is not the coop closer to me but actually an hour away but I had a chance to catch a ride and spend the day in Bangor so I planned a shopping trip. I stocked up and was really happy to find bulk popcorn in addition to rice, beans, nuts, etc. Now I’m completely out of storage containers but of course I’ve been buying more stuff in glass so I’ll catch up eventually.
The comments from last week made me wonder what, exactly, was taking up so much space in our trash can since we reduce, reuse, and recycle. We compost almost all wet waste and will be able to handle even the gross stuff like seafood, chicken, and animal waste in a few months when we add our second composter. We have to wait for the ground to thaw before we can install it.
I went through the trash and found:
1. the contents of the vacuum- mostly dirt, cat and dog fur, ash from the woodstoves, and wood debris. This should be compostable.
2. tissues and paper towels – a lot of tissues- see note about handkerchiefs above
3. Q tips
4. paper products that should have been recycled- these were small pieces that didn’t seem worth recycling at the time. Oops.
5. plastic from my partner. Sigh.
By being more careful and paying attention I should be able to reduce the amount of waste in there and then we can use fewer trash bags.

Please help…
I’m about to run out of lotion. I can get face lotion in glass and hand cream in tins or glass but what about regular lotion? Are there any alternatives?

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