March 1, 2010

Reducing Plastic Waste: February 2010 Collection Results

6.9oz Plastic Waste [5 oz new/1.9 oz acquired prior to June 2007]

Beth's plastic waste - Year 3 Month 8

For some reason, February felt like a very, very long month. Gray drizzly days.  And we don’t even get snow here.

Welcome to those who are discovering this blog after watching the segment on ABC7 morning news today.  Every month I collect and tally my plastic waste to see how far I’ve come and what still needs to be done. As I mentioned in my post “8 Reasons Why Personal Changes Matter,” it’s only after looking at our own waste and trying very hard to find alternatives that we can see clearly where the limits are and what companies we need to target or civil actions to engage in. So, here’s February’s tally:

Plastic purchased before June 15 2007 and used up in the last month (1.9 oz):

  • 1 container Mexican chili powder plus sprinkle lid & cap. As I’ve mentioned before, as I use up spices, I replace them from the bulk jars at Whole Foods where I bring my own container.
  • 4 dried up pens. I went through my pen holder and added the used up ones to my collection.  These days, I mostly use pencils and a refillable fountain pen with cartridge converter that lets me refill from a bottle of ink.
  • 1 piece of tape from picture I removed from wall.
  • 2 blister packs from pkgs of buttons. I found these in my sewing supplies box while looking for a button for my new knitted iPod case.  I have a huge bag of buttons. So big, I’ll probably donate many of them to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.  I certainly will never sew enough to need all of them.  Want some?
  • 1 window from a box of candles. Still finding random plastic things in drawers.
  • 1 plastic baggie. Also found in a drawer.
  • Wrappers from 5 chewable Pepto Bismol tablets. Have had these things for years.  I’m sure they must have expired by now.  But they still work.

New plastic waste (5 oz):

  • 1 BalanceIt bottle, cap, insert, & scoops. This is the supplement we add to our homemade cat food.  We have reduced out cat food waste down to this one bottle every couple of months.  Still, I have written to the company to request that they don’t include brand new scoops in each bottle.  Repeat users can just reuse the scoops we already have.  Haven’t heard back yet.  Need to contact the company again it seems.  See Less Impact Cats Eat Homemade Food for more information.
  • 2 prescription bottles plus caps. Precription bottles are not refillable in California.
  • 2 lenghs of packing tape. From a review copy of a book and a box of vegan chocolates.  Mmmm…
  • Foam insert from a bottle of vitamins. The bottle was glass.  But there was a protective insert under the cap.
  • 2 doses of Frontline flea treatment. This stuff is the bane of my existence.  It’s totally toxic, I’m sure.  But nothing else we have tried works.  And our cats don’t even go outside!  They are picking up fleas we bring into the house despite our non-negotiable no shoes rule.  If we weren’t renters, I would rip up the wall-to-wall carpet in a second.
  • Key card from Disneyland hotel. I should have included this card in my tally last year when my boss took us to Disneyland.  And hotels should collect the cards and reuse them!
  • Expired SF Film Society membership card. I have not renewed.  Rarely have time for movies these days.
  • Plastic juror badge. I intended to return this badge to the court for reuse at the end of my jury service.  However, the night before my second day of service, the clerk called to say I wasn’t needed.  So now I’m stuck with this plastic badge.  Should have left it at the court house after the first day.  I knew they wouldn’t want me after finding out I’m a green blogger.  It was an asbestos case, of all things!
  • 8 plastic envelope windows. Insurance company, financial company, Kaiser Permanente, one tax-related form, and a notice from GE about my dishwasher.   Learn more about plastic window envelopes here.

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17 Comments on "Reducing Plastic Waste: February 2010 Collection Results"

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Hi Beth, I’m not religious but I still do lent every year. My friends and I each pick something that each of us has a problem with. For example, one friend is not eating chocolate in this period. My lent challenge is inspired by you, actually. I do not buy or eat any kind of sweets that are sold in plastic. (exception: dried fruits). Walking into a supermarkt and wanting to buy something sweet and not being able to because every single sweet thing is sold in plastic, really hit me hard. I can do without the sweets, but the… Read more »
Hi Beth, I actually had heard of the Plastic Pollution Coalition (again, through Twitter!) and love their cause. At the moment, I’m still an advocate for recycling whenever possible, but what I’m finding from my research is that the whole system in general needs a face-lift. The more I’ve been reading, the more I realize how absurd our addiction to plastic is, and it really hits home when I’m in my kitchen, opening plastic bag after plastic bag…such a frustrating ordeal! So I’m glad to see that you have successfully convinced me that there are other options. A question: I’ve… Read more »

Hi Ryan. Have you looked at my list of plastic-free changes? Maybe you can look over the list and pick whatever seems doable to you. I would say probably doing without plastic-bottled beverages would be a good next step, but I don’t know what things you have already given up at this point. Here is the list:

You could put a piece of a flea collar inside the bag of the vacuum. This kills the eggs of the fleas that are vacuumed up, so they don’t spread.

Hi Fred.  That’s a great question.  “Plastic-free” is actually shorthand for “buying no new plastic.” In the case of durable, nonfood-related goods, I try to buy them secondhand if possible, or to buy refurbished models.  The point is to reduce the need for new virgin plastic. Unfortunately, I have not found a plastic-free toothbrush to date.  The toothbrush I use is a Preserve recycled toothbrush.  It is made from recycled yogurt containers and can be returned to the company for further “Downcycling” at the end of its life.  Because it is not recycled into a new toothbrush, it does not… Read more »

Do you have a car, dish washer, refrigerator, shoes, toothbrush, wear a bandaid ever?

I was so happy to see you playing the part of  lovely, natural, Beth Terry on TV.   A friend who has three dogs  keeps his house flea-free with daily vacuuming of floors and furniture and that’s all.   However, I  moved into a house where a dog had lived previously, and no amount of vacuuming got rid of the fleas.  I had the house treated with the non-toxic stuff three times, to no avail, and continued to vacuum.  It wasn’t until Advantage was invented and I started putting it on my cat that the fleas disappeared.  I think Advantage… Read more »

Hi Beth! WOW, you made the local news! :) Yay! I’m so proud of you! One step closer to Oprah… :) They did a great story on you!

Hi Beth!

I stumbled upon your blog through Twitter and I am beyond overjoyed!

I’m also an active advocate for reducing plastic consumption (my goal is to eventually be as plastic-free as you!) and am actually completing my senior paper (at the University of Maine) on recycling and how ineffective it is at keeping plastic refuse from the ocean.

Glad to hear there’s a growing body of people trying to fight this plastic epidemic, it is extremely refreshing! :-)

– Ryan :-)

Ryan, check out the Plastic Pollution Coalition! One of their main arguments is that when it comes to plastic, recycling is not the answer. And welcome to this blog!

I wish I hadn’t heard that Lamy makes a Safari made of aluminum! Those fountain pens are super sexy! But I am deeply in love with my bright yellow Safari, even if it IS made of plastic.

I sympathize with your flea plight.  I have lived in places so mysteriously flea-ridden – and with a cat who was terribly allergic to fleas – that I have had to use Frontline monthly AND drop a flea bomb once every 3-4 months.

Which was terrible, but not as terrible as my cat chewing himself bloody.

The bad news here is I stopped making cat and dog food. The good news is I got a Soda Stream for my b-day! one step forward, two steps back!

Last time I bought Citrucel, I was pleased to see that they no longer include a scoop in the container and have a little statement about it on the container. Of course, the CONTAINER is still made out of plastic, but I suppose every little bit counts.

Is it possible you have mice or other little varmints living in your building that could be hosting fleas? Or is there a dog that lives in another apartment? It’s hard for me to picture fleas jumping onto you and being brought in, every time you go outside!

I know, it’s crazy isn’t it, Hillary. No, there is no dog in our house. We live on the 2nd floor of a duplex, so there is only one other unit in the building, and the guy downstairs does not have pets. We have never seen any evidence of other critters in our apartment except for ants whenever it gets cold and rainy. We’ve had our carpets professionally cleaned twice, and we vacuum regularly. Well, Michael does. I’ve had people with dogs — dogs that go outside — tell me that they don’t have as much of a flea problem… Read more »
Hi Beth, Great job! As for the flea problem, try sprinkling salt on the floor. It works. I don’t remember the scienific reason it works but, I used this trick for years when the family dog was alive. I told a friend who has 2 dogs and a cat and she has used salt for 5 years now to kill fleas. If you are worried about pets eating the salt, leave it on the carpets and rugs for 24 hours and vaccum it up. Very important to get the salt around the edges of the base boards and around the… Read more »

Hi Miranda. I would love to hear more about this flea remedy because this last dose of Frontline didn’t even seem to work!

Do you sprinkle the salt all over the entire carpet? We have wall-to-wall. It’s very ironic, actually, that someone trying to live plastic free has an apartment full of synthetic (i.e. plastic) carpet all over the floor. *sigh* So anyway, yeah, do you cover the entire carpet with salt? How much salt? I don’t think the cats would eat it. Arya only likes to eat cheese and plastic.