May 11, 2013

Plastic Challenge: Sarah M. Braik, Week 1


Catfood bags–I don’t think I am prepared to make my own catfood.

Location:Standish, Maine, United States

Name: Sarah M. Braik

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I live with two roommates who I am slowly and I think successfully training to recycle, but they eat a LOT of packaged food. We eat separately, except for the occasional holiday meal that I prepare. I belong to a food coop and was already hardly ever buying processed food. I signed up for the plastic challenge over a month ago and have been refusing, reducing, etc. but just never got around to saving the stuff and photographing it. I’m glad I did, because I realize I have more plastic around than I thought I did. And I am disgusted by all the plastic I see at the grocery store!

Sarah M. Braik’s personal blog:

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
all grocery bags–I bring my own.
greek yogurt when I ran out and the store was out of the kind in the returnable jar that I buy from the coop.
water in plastic gallon jugs and served in plastic cups at a function–and I was thirsty!
Coffee served in a styrofoam cup at a meeting.

Total items collected: 22

Total weight: No idea

Items: Recyclable
ice cream carton #2–recyclable.
1 quart jug that buttermilk came in–#2 recyclable
2 plastic lids from buttermilk jugs–#4 recyclable

Items: Nonrecyclable
Packaging from 16 oz. bags of spelt and rye flakes that I bought by the case last spring and am still using up–not recyclable.
Packaging from a ten pound box of dried cherries I bought at the coop–the bag they were in and the plastic tape from the box that the bag was in–not recyclable.
The scotch tape that attached a paper name tag at another meeting at which I knew no one–not recyclable.
Two bits of foam that shredded off from an ancient hanger from some long-forgotten dry cleaning.
1 ice cream carton paper lined with plastic–not sure if it’s recyclable, but will find out.
anchovy can–I’m pretty sure they recycle the metal but not the plastic lining.
2 plastic twist ties, one with a nasty plastic sign that wrapped up the kale I bought at whole foods because I ran out of arugula from the coop.
2 plastic stickers from oranges.
plastic wrapper around lid of paper ice cream carton.
plastic wrapper from a five-pound bag of popcorn I bought last year.
backing from a postage stamp–I was utterly dismayed that the post office no longer sells stamps you can lick, but only those with plastic backing
plastic pour spout and cap from a bottle of vinegar.
Plastic wrapper around the cork of a bottle of wine–I forgot when I bought it to look for foil, although I suspect even if it looks like foil it is plastic.
Plastic wrapper from a 12 pack of toilet paper.
Not shown–dental floss, supermarket double-bag that I scooped my cat litter into, and small piece of plastic wrap from a brownie I ordered in a restaurant.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
I have ordered a case of Seventh Generation Toilet paper wrapped in paper. The local farm I get my buttermilk from is in the process of replacing their plastic jugs with returnable glass jars–yay!
I can buy anchovies in jars.
I actually look for oranges in the store whose plastic labels have fallen off.
I have ordered plastic-free dish scrubbie things.
I am in the process of using up my last plastic bottle of liquid handwashing soap and have switched to bar soap.
Liquid laundry detergent.
Dental floss, toothpaste, mouthwash.


What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Will not purchase spelt and oat flakes again since not available in bulk.
shampoo, dish detergent–already switched to bar soap, deodorant, conditioner, cleaning spray.
RyVita Crackers and canned tunafish, once I use up the case I have now.
Stain remover

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
I thought a month ago I could give up ice cream, but this week it suddenly seemed essential.
Body lotion–I have terrible dry skin.
Postage stamps.
Although I put very little into it, I buy plastic kitchen trash can liners because my roommates eat a lot of meat, and I have to put my trash in the trunk of my car to take it to the dump. We do compost all the vegetable matter.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I am really attached to my hair products, so that is going to be a tough lifestyle change.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Toilet paper packaging.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Plastic has been sneaked into everything!

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