February 11, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Sabrina L, Week 4


Just this week’s new garbage:
Sabrina's plastic waste

This is plastic already in use in our home:
Sabrina's plastic waste

Name: Sabrina Lutes and family, 2 adults and 1 2-year old

Week: 4

Personal Info:

See full description in all of Sabrina’s posts.

Total items: 48

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
4- envelopes
1-handful packing beans
1-cup, we asked the server twice to NOT bring this, only to have it handed directly to my two year old (6)
1-milk carton (2)
1-takeout topper, again told the man no plastic, no topper, still got the topper with half my food stuck to it. (2)
1- marinate cup (5)
1-food container
1-toilet bowl cleaning solution (2)
1-applesauce container (2)
2- milk lids

Items: Nonrecyclable
1-diaper. We use cloth, but apparently ran out of clean ones and my husband grabbed the plastic
2- Lara bar wrappers, given to my son
2- meat wrappers
2- cheese wrappers
1- bubble wrap, some tape. These were sent with our water filters, which as you can see were not perfect but amazingly minimal, my husband asked for no plastic
3- cutlery, my husband swears he will wash and reuse, one was my bad because I asked for an ice-cream sample before I realized what I was doing!
3- glass jar labels
2- cereal wrappers
5- razors. Help on this one! My husband has shaky hands, feels like a life hazard with a straight edge, any thoughts to reduce. This waste?
3- emergen c wrappers, bought before, it’s cold and flu season so will go ahead and use em up
1- chocolate chip bag. So praying these come in bulk…:). These were the last of em
1- bubble wand
4- jar lids
3- straws, I don’t use them but some how they just appeared in drinks before we could refuse them or the drinks
1-fig newton wrapper, I tried to avoid this, but my dad left them and it got the best of me!
1- veggie tie, got to get better about seeing these things!
1-toy crayon
1-wrapper for paper towels, haven’t used them in years, had a roll in the closet, somehow they escaped, and now the plastic made it into my stash. Going to send it to 7th generation with a note, perhaps.

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
Paper towel wrapper
Restaurant stuff, although we tried, I don’t know how to keep the discussion going after my request has been totally ignored?!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
Toilet bowl cleaner
Takeout/ restaurant food

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
More planning, all this waste that was new was because I didn’t plan things, we had company, ran out of town, I had a class all day….very unusual week. Even though I worked so hard and had so many gains, it was a total backslide and wash. I made muslin bags, took an hour to figure out my small grocers backward bulk system if you bring your own bags, I found someone to fill my containers with fresh meat, got funny looks and blank stares at every request I made to not end up with plastic. We’ve even dropped our trash can size! So lifestyle change will have to be planning, and adding more sizzle to my requests!

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I’ll make my kid Lara bars so he’ll stop pilfering them from other people!
We won’t eat out until I can get my lines down and am armed with suggestions on how to keep plastic out.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
All my happy dance last week got stepped on this week! Plastic reduction is tough, especially when you talk to people. I got so many “it’s JUST one plastic bag, straw…” responses. I wanted to cry! I’m ready to wear my monkey wrench tee shirt when I go shopping. Must find my happy place! :). It’s worrisome that knowing what we know, we still make a lot of trash. That most people aren’t even aware how quickly it adds up, we weren’t. Luckily my husband reminds me that we are doing it, change takes time. The items and size are falling, I can see it because I photograph on my tile floor. It’s taking a lot less space across those tiles. Thank you for hearing my rant! I’ll stop now.

My Question:
The razors
How do you educate people when they say I can pour your food into your reusable container from our plastic bag? Yes, he was serious! He wasn’t trying to be smoggy, just didn’t get it.

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8 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: Sabrina L, Week 4"

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Hey, I included many of your suggestions in my blog post today. Thanks. Feel free to add more or forward to others.



If you can´t rant here where can you?? Sometimes we need to rant! It is tough. But it´s great reading through these posts, knowing we´re not alone. Shame your all the other side of the pond, but good to know your out there! I always ask for tap water in resturants. Great. Until the other day I went up to the counter & see they fill it from a bottle into a jug…. & twice they have said ” it´s free ” Trying to get this across in another language is hard. But now I say, really say. TAP water… Read more »

My roomie saw me snapping pics of recycles the other day and said, “I won’t even ask. . .” Looking forward to being able to fit it all in one shot. Went to a restaurant recently with my own pre-used foil to bring home my leftovers. :-)

Thanks so much!! I’m continuing, although this week feels like I just had to slow down a bit and just be easy on myself, which meant totally not sticking with the not eating out. Plastics have snuck in as a I’m so new at making yogurt and bread that I’ve skipped out of it. I did make it to the store today with cloth bags. We didn’t tare them, as they swear they can’t do it, I just paid for it. Rip stop nylon may be my answer even though it’s nylon, and I’d have to purchase it. I’m still… Read more »
About restaurant plastic: Over the past year, I’ve been trying to make it a habit to say “no straw” when ordering a beverage and “no disposable plastic” when ordering a meal with varying success. Servers have a lot to remember. Some are better than others at special requests. If enough of us continue with the “no plastic” requests, restaurants and they’re staff will eventually learn that this is the new normal. I have, on occasion, asked to speak with a manager about plastic items that appeared with my meal after my request was forgotten or ignored. It was when someone… Read more »
I’m with Danielle on all of this. There are many times that I just have to be patient and explain to those questioning what I’m doing. I even ask, “Do you know how much plastic you use in a week?” Then I follow it up with, “I do and it doesn’t make me happy to know I’m contributing to this…” Then I pull out a cut out picture I found in a magazine of a sea bird with nothing but plastic in his belly! Lol! Yes, this may seem extreme but it’s worked many times. People never forget me either.… Read more »
Ahhh… servers. Here’s the thing… they’re programmed. (much like those who bag groceries… paper or plastic? they always grab plastic.. even having my own bags I have to say, “No plastic.”.). Having 3 kids we’ve had to work at NOT getting those stupid kid cups and straws. When our kids were younger we would just bring their reusable water bottle. Now what we do is when we order our drinks we start off with the statement, “All regular glasses. No kids cups. No disposable cups. No straws, please.” Then when the last person has ordered their drink we reiterate “No… Read more »

Sabrina, I can help with the razor! I use a metal safety razor. It may seem scary at first, but it’s really not. Not scary like a straight edge (which I won’t let my husband use either.)

Here’s everything you need to know, including where I get my blades in boxes of 100:


I’ll post your question on Facebook about getting servers to comply with your requests. Sounds like you had a frustrating week.

But hey, congratulations on making it a whole month! I’m just so impressed with how much of an activist you’ve become.