March 20, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Rebecca M, Week 5

Rebecca's plastic waste

Name: Rebecca

Week: 5

Personal Info:
Read all about me in my Week 1 Challenge Post.


Total items: 26-ish

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
1 – Lemon Juice Bottle (#1)
1 – Peanut Butter Jar (#1)
1 – Parmesean Cheese Jar (#1)
1 – Mayo Jar (#1)

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 – Lemon Juice bottle cap
1 – Peanut butter jar cap
1 – parmesean cheese jar cap
1 – lid from jar of baking powder
2 – bags from underwear
1 – cheese wrapper
1 – plastic clamshell from special plug thing for the outdoor cat’s heater
1 – broccoli tag
1 – piece of packing tape
1 – wine bottle seal
1 – q-tip
7 – breathe right strips
1 – deoderant container
1 – doctor’s sample of skin cream
1 – piece of plastic that used to be keeping drafts out of my window before the adorable but challenging Smoky Bear came into my life and decided that all of the plastic was blocking his view.

plus a variety of fruit stickers and envelope windows which I am too lazy to count

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
– lemon juice
– peanut butter
– mayo (hard to find but possible)
– underwear (to be honest these had been sitting un-opened in my drawer for about a year… finally decided to retire a few pairs that were getting ridiculous – but I’m sure I could find new underwear without plastic if I looked a bit harder…. I hope so anyhow)
– deoderant. This is actually a container from some crystal rock deoderant that has lasted about 4 years. Actually, there’s plenty of the crystal left, it just fell out of the container. I’m pretty sure you can buy the crystals without the fancy plastic dispenser.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
The window coverings. I’ve given up, not so much because of the plastic but because of the cat. He’s now shredded the plastic on every window he can reach. So we’re aiming for a compromise. I’m making insulated shades to use at night and we’re not going to worry about it during the day. Now if I can just get him to stop climbing the curtains…

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
– Breathe Right Strips
– The Thermocube plug thing for the outdoor kitty’s heater… It’s a plug with a built in thermostat to turn on the heater when it gets cold and turn it off when it warms up. I searched and searched for a way to buy this without the plastic but it didn’t exist. I finally decided that it was the lesser of two evils since we were wasting a lot of electricity having the heater on when it wasn’t needed.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Become a better seamstress… for some reason many of my “green” endeavors have meant that I had to sew. I’m trying to befriend the sewing machine. The first window shade took 6 hours, 2 broken needles and lots of cursing. I’m hoping it will get easier.

The lotion was pretty much essential because my skin had gotten to the point of cracked and bleeding. And I did buy a big jar of it since it’s the only thing that’s ever worked. But… the jar is plastic, and the cream itself is a total petro product, so I’m going to experiment with making my own beeswax creams and hopefully I can find something that works before I run out of the petro-goo.

The plastic razors didn’t make it into any of my tallies because I tend to use them way beyond what I should. I’ve got a preserve razor which I’ll use once I’ve used up all of the disposable ones, and I’m contemplating trying a safety razor… but I do have great fear of cutting myself. I’ve gots lots of little moles and skin tags which make shaving a challenge… anybody have any experience in avoiding shaving off moles while using a safety razor?

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
ummm… new underwear? Seriously, I won’t be needing any more for a while.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Well, this will be my last tally week for a while since I’m finding that I’m getting awfully lazy about collecting the plastic. I actually have too many thoughts to write here… so I’ll be writing about it on my blog as I digest the experience. It is frustrating that everything ends up being the lesser of numerous evils.

The other thing I have issues with is the whole concept of “sacrificing for the sake of the planet.” I come to the green movement from the world of Voluntary Simplicity, and one of the main principals of the Voluntary Simplicity movement is that you’re not simplifying as a form of sacrifice, or altruism, you’re doing it to make your own life better. I truly believe that to live green is to live better, and that the environmental movement as a whole would do much better if we focused on how living green can improve your own life rather than on how we should all “sacrifice” for the planet, or the future, or whatever. But this philosophy can hit a brick wall when the society isn’t set up to support it. Anyhow, I’m blathering, but I’ll write a lengthy, boring and probably unfortunately whiney blog post about it soon.

Just want to say thanks to Beth for providing this forum and for her wonderful and gentle encouragement.

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