January 23, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Rebecca M, Week 1

Rebecca's plastic waste

Name: Rebecca

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I live in Denver, Colorado. Full time members of my household include me and 3 indoor cats. Part time members include my boyfriend who visits about once a week and 2 stray/feral cats who I feed and care for as much as they will let me.

I work from home doing graphic design/database design and other computer related stuff.

I am a most of the time vegetarian which means that I eat chicken a few times a year, fish or seafood a few times a month and dairy and eggs daily.

I see reducing my plastic as a bit of a balancing act, and I’ve got a few challenges to deal with.

Challenge Number 1: I have severe food allergies and sensitivities. I’m allergic to almost all nuts and seeds, as well as a whole pile of other things, and I can only tolerate limited amounts of soy. All of this makes my protien choices severly limited, and pretty much necessitates the inclusion of some animal products in my diet.

Challenge Number 2: My business took a real hit during the economic downturn and I’m now living on about $17K per year. That’s actually quite doable for me since I’m the queen of frugal, but it means that I’m often faced with tough decisions when it comes to spending more to get a greener option.

Challenge Number 3: My boyfriend is only mildly supportive of my green efforts. It’s not that he doesn’t see environmental issues as important, but he believes that the driving issue behind our environmental problems is population, and since we’ve chosen not to have kids he feels we’ve done our part. He also sees my “eco-guilt” as rather unhealthy, and at times it has become a real bone of contention in our relationship. Translation… I don’t push it where my boyfriend is concerned.

Total items: about 56

Total weight: about 9 ounces

Items: Recyclable
1 Vitamin Bottle #2
1 Vitamin Bottle #1
1 Cat Treat Jar #3
1 Chinese Takeout Container #5

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 – styrofoam cup (I’ll probably use this to start seeds for the garden)
3 – Lids from vitamin bottles & cat treats
2 – lids from styrofoam cup & Chinese takeout
1 – Birth Control Pills blister pack
7 – Breath Right Nasal Strips
1 – Plastic Q-Tip
3 – cheese wrappers
1 – frozen fish wrapper
1 – plastic seal from wine bottle
2 – plastic seals from vitamin bottles
1 – plastic piece from milk bottle top
1 – tag from broccoli
3 – takeout soy sauce packages
1 – fortune cookie wrapper
2 – plastic twist ties
1 – sticker from box for computer part
20 – plastic windows from bank statements (all the end of year stuff arrived this week)

I also didn’t include the 4 cans of catfood per day which are lined in plastic…

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Ummm… the Q-tip. I usually buy the kind with paper sticks instead of plastic, but I grabbed the wrong box.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
I’d LOVE to get rid of all of the bank statements, but I’m not sure how to do it for the year end stuff. I’ll see what’s possible.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
The birth control pills

The breath right strips – I’m sure that I could significantly reduce my impact if I were to stop breathing, but I’m not quite willing to go that far yet! :)

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Spending more money! Or rather, earning more money so I’d have more to spend.

I might be able to find vitamins in glass bottles, but cost might be an issue. I’ll have to see how the price compares.

I’m researching getting cheese from a local dairy, but holy moly is it expensive! We’ll see…

I might be able to bring my own containers for the Chinese takeout…. but this is sort of a boyfriend issue. I fear it might go over like a fat juicy fart in church with him. The folks at this restaurant also speak very little English and I’m not sure if I would be able to explain it to them… they have a hard enough time understanding that I don’t want their free egg rolls because they have pork in them… The truth is we only get take out once every few months… I dunno…

I could probably get fish in paper if I went to the seafood counter… but this is both a cost issue as well as a lesser of evils thing, since fresh salmon in Colorado has a HUGE carbon footprint, frozen is the better alternative.

I’ve thought about making home made catfood, but not sure I’m ready to go there yet. The cat treats might also be done away with if I could get Mr. Picky to eat without enticement…

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Chinese Takeout

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
There are always tradeoffs!

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