October 26, 2010

Susan L., Week 1

Susan's plastic waste

Name: Susan

Week: 1

Personal Info:
work at home outside of Atlanta, married

Total items: 48

Total weight: 13.4 ounces

Items: Recyclable
Plastic shopping bags
Plastic produce bags
Plastic produce containers (made from 100% recycled plastic)
Parmesan cheese container
plastic cups
honey squeeze bottle

Items: Nonrecyclable
List of non-recyclable items or those you are unsure of:
badminton birdie
broken hangers
plastic utensils?
drink lids and straws?
food bags

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
* The Big Lots bags came from a day where I had forgotten a shopping bag. I asked for a box but was told they didn’t have any. (Kind of peeved that the cashier didn’t even try. I was the only customer at the register at the time.)
Have to remember that part of using tote bags is emptying them and putting them back in the car!
* I could get some of those travel utensils to keep around. I was surprised that my meal was served to me with plastic utensils. I’m not sure I would have been prepared anyway.
In addition to utensils, I’d like to find (and invest in) a quality mug that could go hot or cold.
* Wooden or wire hangers are an alternative. I’ve had these hangers for over 20 years, though. Does that help?
* Parmesan cheese container came from a vacation shopping trip. We’ve reused it a few times for storage, and now it will go to a creative reuse recycling place. Still, if I’d been at home, I would have bought a hunk of cheese and grated. (But I guess that cheese would have been wrapped in plastic!)

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
Not much. Although I’d be happy if plastic bags disappeared. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about it because it wouldn’t be an option.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
*Nearly half of my plastic by weight came from my CSA subscription. I’m not going to drop it over plastic. All of it’s recyclable, and most of it was made from recycled plastic.
*One of the plastic bags was brought to me by the guy I was having lunch with. Although he’s the kind of person who would totally understand I didn’t want it, I was unwilling to refuse it because he was kind enough to bring it to me. I hate the possibility of making people feel silly when they’re trying to be nice.
*Food bags are icky, but I don’t have a bulk store near me.
*Husband will find badminton birdies essential. He doesn’t like the feather ones so much.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
*Get mug and utensils for snacks away from home.
*Remember to put the !*&#%^ tote bags back in the car.
*Check out bulk stores next time I’m in Atlanta. Maybe there are times I can combine trips.
*I will mention reducing plastic to my CSA manager just so she’ll know where I stand. I’m sure she wants to do this, too.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
*Shop for mug and utensils.
*For any fast food snacks, go inside so I’ll have a better chance to skip a lid and straw.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

Guess I’m not ready to be militant about plastic. Vigilant, though.

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