March 7, 2012

Plastic Challenge: Valerie Teruel, Week 1

I’m keeping my old laundry detergent bottles, to reuse when I make my own laundry soap.
Does anyone have a recipe that they use?

Same with toothpaste, I’m looking for a home made powder, any suggestions of tried and true recipe

Location:Chicago, Illinois, United States

Name: Valerie Teruel

Week: 1

Personal Info:

We are a family of 4. I’m the one spearheading my family to make permanent radical changes to the way we consume stuff, especially plastic. Even though I already started in earnest reducing the use of plastic about 2 years ago, I realized that recently I’d slipped back into some bad habits. Those were the days when I was feeling it was all hopeless! Seeing this community of people who have not given up has made me so excited, so I’m in!!!
All the pics will represent the whole family.
Excluding stuff my 16yr old buys when she’s out of sight!
We are vegetarian which makes things easier.

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)

All plastic bags from
Marshall’s clothing store
Gave up my favorite Trader JOE’S Grapefruit juice opted for the real thing, alas not the same.
Stopped buying ready made humus.

Total items collected: 22

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
Trader JOE grapefruit juice
TJ blueberry carton
TJ Cranberry juice
TJ Parmesan cheese carton (not the lid)

Items: Nonrecyclable
McCormick pure vanilla extract bottle
McCormick mint extract
TJ’s Farfalle pasta bowl
2x bread bags
Container from frozen meal ?
McCormick ground nut nutmeg
TJ white bean humus
Pacific Natural foods organic Almond ( no recycling info and plastic cap)
whole foods Organic almond milk ( also plastic cap)
West soy soy milk ( again plastic cap)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Actually almost anything. I know with preparation I can even try to make my own almond milk.

Fresh food is unsurpassable!!!

Fresh or grated Parmesan cheese ( unless I find a cheese shop that sells it without plastic wrapping)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
My family uses Chinese herbs extensively, they go through many small herb bottles a month.
They are at least recyclable. I am aiming for zero plastic use.
This is bothering me tremendously, but the tablets are the only way my kids will take them. Boiling Chinese herbs is pretty awful, I know, my husband did it for 2 years!
For all the good I feel I’m doing with other plastic, This is quite a set back.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I’ve been working on this one! I’m shopping less already. I always have this need to stock up, as if I live in some remote area.
When the kids come home they stare inside the fridge and say there’s nothing to eat, so I will have to have freshly made snacks at the ready.
I figured I’ll be spending on average at least 45 mins longer in the kitchen everyday. Preparing foods from scratch. I plan to make my kitchen more efficient and more fun, (taking down a kitchen wall to see out into the yard while I cook!).

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Plastic wrapped hothouse cucumbers.
Pre washed packed lettuce

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
I’m in a good position to go plastic free with food items. I only work part time, I can easily spend more time prepping fresh ‘unwrapped’ foods. My big concern is the other stuff, packaging in all other areas. You can’t buy batteries etc without encountering a mound of plastic
I’m passionate about this, I’m ready to get involved at the next level, because I know we need more drastic measures.
But I’m so thrilled to have found your website Beth and all the other like minded people that are getting involved. It definitely helps give me the courage of my convictions.
I’m on board!

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