January 20, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Suzanne in Davis, Week 1

Suzanne's plastic waste

Suzanne's plastic waste

Name: Suzanne in Davis, CA

Week: 1

Personal Info:
I work full-time and travel for work occasionally; my husband also works full-time and we have two kids under 6. [Suzanne divided her plastic into 2 photos: food and non-food.]

Total items: about 85 individual pieces

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
1. In & Out water cup — recyclable (#6)
2. Chocolate milk mix lid (#4)
3. Kids ibuprofen (#5 and #6)
4. Roast chicken container (not pictures) #5

1. 4 Bleach and bleach-based cleaning product containers (all #2)

Items: Nonrecyclable
1. Bags (non-recyclable) (CSA, resused bread bags, puffed rice bags) – note that I reuse these bags until I don’t feel comfortable I can adequately clean them.
2. Chick broth container (asceptic carton — nonrecyclable in Davis)
3. Straw
4. “fearless frank” hot dog and neiman ranch sausage wrappings
5. Ecover dishwasher tablet covers
6. Wrapping from leftover Halloween candy
7. Tea bag packaging
8. Yogurt cover (St. Benoit in glass)
9. Cheese wrapping cling film
10. Olive oil bottle wrapping
11. Baby bel wrapping
12. Mexican chocolate wrapping
13. Annie’s organic mac/cheese packets and Near East rice packet
14. Milk bottle wraps
15. Tangerine bags
16. Frozen Fish stick bags (can’t find box but pretty sure that’s nonrecyclable)
17. Plate/cling film from muffin purchase @ work cafeteria (couldn’t stop the gal in time from wrapping a poor muffin in plastic 3x over)
18. Restaurant leftover take-home box

1. Misc packaging (greeting cards and hose, not sure what the other packages are from)
2. Tape from packaging from online purchase
3. Plastic lining over address spot on envelopes
4. Girl scout badge backing
5. Netflix strips
6. Rocknasium giveaway
7. Last season’s ski lift pass
8. Packaging from new light bulb
9. Packaging from ill-conceived rubber stamp project
10. Used pens
11. Candyland game piece

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
1. Rcover dishwasher tablets.
2. We’ve switched to bulk tea; this is from stash we’re finishing
3. Chocolate milk – I can come up with a mix from items available in bulk (wrapping is from a pantry re-org project where I ground up all the mexican chocolate to make it easier to use).
4. I can get sausage from butcher in my own packaging
5. Rotisserie chicken – not hard to get fresh chicken at butcher and poach or roast.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
– Baby bel cheese (that’s for the kids, anyway)
– bleach and bleach-based cleaners (I cleaned out our cleaning supplies this week and won’t be replacing these)
– straws (reminder to bring water bottle when getting food to go)
– take-out containers (reminder to bring containers to restaurant)

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
1. Kids ibuprofin and tylenol
2. chicken broth – this is a tough one. Only organic chicken broth available to me is in asceptic containers. Inorganic is in cans (which is lined with BPA-leaching stuff). Making my own chicken broth has a very high PITA (pain-in-the-ass) factor for me.
3. Sliced sandwich bread – another tough one. I tried making bread and buying sliced sandwich bread directly from baker and (a) it falls apart in kids lunches, (b) goes stale and (c) options have very high PITA factor.
4. Puffed rice and puffed kamut cereal bags. Another tough one! The only cereal in bulk has too much sugar and fat, homemade granola has similar problems (plus PITA factor) and kids hate meuslix. I’ve called several stores trying to find puffed rice in bulk.
4. When I travel my husband cooks and he uses packaged food (fish sticks, mak/cheese) – alternative is eating out so prefer use of some packaged food in this case.
5. We buy milk and yogurt in glass and am comfortable with wrapping associated with it.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
This is the biggest change I plan on making: refuse, refuse, refuse!
1. CSA bags (i.e., ask for no bags)
2. When I buy online, ask for no plastic (just started doing this)
3. Refuse giveaways (like the rocknasium sticker)

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
This week – find dishwasher soap with no plastic packaging or make my own.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Next area of improvement may be to find
“plastic-free” recipes to help form new cooking habits that don’t rely on canned or packaged food.

Another area of improvement may be bread, tortilla and crackers. These are difficult to replace and they are very helpful for kids’ lunches.

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