October 14, 2007

Week 17 Results: 4.1 oz of plastic

I feel like I keep learning the same lesson over and over again. As careful as I am about plastic, it is just so ubiquitous that unless I’m on my toes every minute of the day, I end up with some that I didn’t expect. You’ll see what I mean when I give you this week’s tally:

Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 6 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).
  • 1 Kirkland Signature (Costco brand) paper towel roll wrapper. We have 6 more of these rolls. We try to use paper towels as little as possible but have not yet given them up entirely. And we did buy these before the plastic project began.
  • 1 plastic wrapper from a package of candles. I’ve got to stop cleaning! Okay, I guess that’s not really the lesson I’m to learn. But darnit, every time I clean out a drawer or cabinet I find more plastic packaging to add to the tally!
  • 1 plastic bag of bulk lentils. I transferred the lentils to a glass jar and will reuse the plastic bag.
  • 1 prescription bottle and lid. This is actually a bottle of expired pills. Fortunately, Governor Schwarzenegger (Governor Schwarzenegger. Aren’t those words bizarre in and of themselves?) just signed a bill this week to create a pharmaceutical take back program to alleviate the problem of old drugs being flushed down the toilet and contaminating our waterways (SB 966 [Simitian]). Now I just have to wait to find out what to do with these.
  • 1 broken Phillips CFL light bulb and part of its container. This is a real problem. We bought a pack of 8 lightbulbs from Costco which came packaged in a plastic clamshell. At least I think that’s what this container is called. Anyway, it was so hard to open, even with scissors, that we ended up smashing a lightbulb trying to get it out of the package!

    I sent an e-mail to Phillips tonight to find out what we are supposed to do with this now, considering CFLs contain mercury, and to ask why in the heck they have to package them in so much plastic that is nearly impossible to open!

And that’s all the old stuff. Now for the new plastic waste.

  • 1 Ziploc bag from a fresh ahi tuna steak. I bought this at the farmer’s market last Sunday. I was hoping I wouldn’t have much more new plastic this week. The fish this guy brings to the market is super fresh, just caught that morning. But he does package them in Ziploc bags. I’m going to have to check around and see if there is any other market selling fish that is as fresh that does not come in plastic.
  • 1 drinking straw from Oliveto Restaurant. Sigh. I had lunch at this local restaurant after visiting the Davis Street transfer center. I was in a great mood. I wasn’t worried about this place because they use cloth napkins and durable plateware and utensils. I ordered iced tea and totally forgot about the straw! It was already unwrapped so I couldn’t send it back.
  • 1 Strauss Family Creamery milk bottle cap. Strauss is a wonderful local dairy. Their happy cows graze in the fields. They are never fed corn or hormones or antibiotics. The milk is sold in glass containers that are returned to the store and sent back to Strauss to be washed and refilled. Unfortunately, they come with a plastic cap. I did write to Strauss this week to find out why they use a plastic cap rather than a metal cap that could be recycled. I’m looking forward to the answer.
  • 1 Baskin Robbins ice cream cup lid. This one came out of left field. It seems like I always get caught when I order junk! Some women from work were going on an ice cream run. They asked if I wanted anything. I did. I wanted a sundae. With NO PLASTIC SPOON! Okay, they said, what if it comes in a plastic container? No way, I said. I do not want it if it’s in a plastic container. But I’m pretty sure it will be in a cardboard cup. So they come back with my ice cream, in a cardboard cup, with no plastic spoon, but A PLASTIC LID ON THE CUP!!! Holy crap! And why was I buying Baskin Robbins anyway when I have Strauss double dutch chocolate ice cream at home that is made with milk from happy cows? Why?
  • A bit of plastic from around the stems of a bunch of organic bananas. Same as last week. What gives?

Every week I hope that my plastic use will be down from the week before, and nearly every week there are surprises. But this is how we learn, right? Plastic is everywhere and unless you want it to be the only thing you think about 24/7, it’s pretty hard to live without any at all. So I continue my quest for a nearly plastic-free life. All we can do is what we can do.

Got to get to bed now and get my beauty sleep. Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with some people from the Think Outside The Bottle campaign who are making a YouTube video to spread the word. Gotta look glamorous!

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15 years ago

The milk bottle cap looks exactly like the one I get on the glass bottles from our local (well, within two states) dairy. I’m looking forward to hearing what the response is about the caps and why they aren’t plastic!

terrible person
15 years ago

I remember my dad telling when I was a kid that Baskin-Robbins ice cream actually CONTAINED plastic to keep it from melting. No idea if that’s true or not. I worked at a Baskin-Robbins in the summer of 1986, and I never found out. I’ll try to ….

15 years ago

Keep up the good fight! We just started a recycling bin in our co-op for all the bits of plastic that don’t go in our Blue Boxes. And here in Vancouver a 12 week garbage strike has just ended, leaving the city awash in all kinds of litter, esp. plastic. So disgusting.