March 23, 2008

Week 40 Results: .8 oz of plastic waste.

Oh dear. So you know how last week I had zero new plastic waste and only stuff I’d purchased before I started this project? Well, this week, it’s all just new new new stuff. Some unavoidable and some completely and embarrassingly avoidable. So here goes.

New plastic waste:

  • 1 plastic wrap from a case of Instinct canned chicken cat food. Each case contains 24 cans in a cardboard box wrapped in plastic. It’s the secret plastic you don’t normally see if you buy the cans straight off the shelf. And I think all canned cat food comes packaged this way. But the dry food gives them the runs, and I keep reading that dry food is not good for cats anyway. So until I’m ready to cook them food from scratch on a regular basis, this will be a continuing source of plastic in the tally.
  • Plastic window from a Taco Bell quesadilla wrapper. This is the truly embarrassing admission for the week. I don’t know what happened to me. Okay, yes I do know. I left the house on an empty stomach and got sucked into Taco Bell totally impulsively as I was passing by. Taco Bell! It’s not like I don’t live in an area with great local Mexican restaurants. I do! But I was starving and Taco Bell was there, and I hadn’t had cheese in a while, and I thought, “How can a little quesadilla hurt anything?” Didn’t know about the plastic window in the wrapper. So I’m totally busted!
  • 1 wrapper from a See’s Candies chocolate lollipop. Busted again. Someone offered it to me at work, and it was opened and in my mouth before I knew what hit me. But I assure you that I enjoyed it thoroughly.
  • Plastic from a bunch of organic bananas. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no idea why the organic bananas always have plastic around the stems when the conventional ones don’t.
  • 1 tiny plastic insert from a tiny glass bottle of Tea Tree oil. More on what I’m using this for in my post on Monday.
  • 1 plastic seal from a new Preserve toothbrush container. The container and toothbrush are recyclable by returning them to Recycline. I’m holding onto my old ones to send back a bunch all at once. But I don’t think this tiny bit of plastic is recyclable.
  • 1 plastic pour insert from a 1.75 litre glass bottle of Smirnoff vodka. I use this stuff diluted for cleaning (smells better than vinegar, even if it is more expensive) and for my mouthwash recipe. I would buy cheaper vodka for the purpose, as Radical Garbageman urged me one time, but the cheaper vodka comes in plastic bottles!
  • 1 plastic seal from a jar of Fudge Is My Life dark chocolate sauce. Oh My Gawad! This stuff rocks. But I didn’t notice the clear plastic seal until I got it home.

    I do notice, though that I am changing fundamentally in the way I shop. The other night, I had a craving for chocolate sauce and the only store open was Safeway. So I thought, whatever, I’ll just get some Hershey’s or Smuckers in a glass jar. No one will know as long as it’s not in plastic.

    But when I got to the chocolate sauce aisle and read the ingredients on the labels: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated soy bean oil, I just couldn’t go there. I just couldn’t. I was actually repulsed by the whole idea. And then I wandered around in Safeway for a while feeling really depressed. So I decided to buy some cream to make my own hot fudge. But the only organic cream they had was O Organics and Horizon, and being a member of the Organic Consumers Association, I’d read all kinds of terrible things about those brands. And I just couldn’t go there either.

    So I walked home chocolate-free and depressed. And the next day, I bought the very expensive jar of Fudge Is My Life. Here are the ingredients: Cream, Brown Sugar, Cocoa Powder (processed with alkali), Sugar, Butter, Honey and Salt. So yeah, I could have made it from scratch. But sometimes you just want to scoop fudge out of a jar and eat it straight up with no waiting around. And that’s what I did.

So that’s the tally for last week. And now I have a cat question for you. Do kitty’s whiskers usually fall out? Ever since we’ve had her, Arya’s had these two really funny white Martian antenna-looking whiskers sticking straight up from her forehead (in addition to the normal whiskers sticking out the sides of her face.) Then, one day this week, she suddenly only had one. And the next day, none. Her antennae are gone! Where could they be? Is this normal? Just wondering.

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14 years ago

I’ve been feeling really down about the extra effort I have to put into to get stuff to eat. Why do I have to do all this extra planning just to avoid seeing plastic littering the streets?

I am not tracking plastic consumption like you are, but I’ve made horrid mistakes like your taco bell one too. And I wish I could just let it go and just move on. But I’m still thinking about the OJ and soup I bought two weeks ago that came in plastic or plastic lined containers.

I just noticed your list of plastic free alternatives and have linked to it so I don’t have to do so much extra work when you already have. I didn’t realize you had already tried using baking soda for brushing your teeth. :)

14 years ago

Hi :)

Here is a response from someone who works at a vets office:

Yes, all of our canned cat food comes with a big plastic bag.

1. Wet food: Cats are naturally a desert species and normally get their liquid from the foods they eat. Having sufficient liquid in their diet is thought to prevent the likelihood of kidney disease, the top disease of elderly cats (pretty much if your cat is over 13 it probably has kidney disease).

2. Dry food: is less expensive, less messy, and (probably) better for the environment: less packaging and less weight to ship from wherever its coming from, and less use of metals which are a huge burden on the environment to generate. AND it prevents dental disease, which wet food doesn’t. But it could lead to an increase likelihood of kidney disease.

My take? I feed dry food and make sure my kitters drink a lot of water. :-)

PS I <3 Taco Bell. I had three tostadas (no cheese) for lunch, husb had a double decker veg taco (beans for meat) and two bean burritoes (no cheese) and we had no plastic wrap at all!

14 years ago

See’s candies, especially the lollipops, yum, yum, yum! In fact I just past by a See’s candy store yesterday. It took 10 minutes of ridiculous inner dialog to convince myself not to step in the store. Wrappers, what wrappers?

14 years ago

.8 oz of plastic garbage? Beth- that is wonderful and nothing to be ashamed of. I think you are doing a great job of this and are an inspriation to us all. Now if I can work on my roomate- he bought a dozen of Eglands Best free range eggs in their enviormentally unfreindly plastic container- of course I admonished him and had to listen to his excuse of free range is better for the chickens- My argument was the free-range eggs I buy at trader joes are not only free range, but come in a paperboard container and are ORGANIC. NOt much he could say about that.

14 years ago

Jeebuz – walking into Safeway makes me depressed. I live near the 51st/Broadway Safeway with the 24 Hour Long’s — scary area. There’s very little in Safeway that I (as a vegan) can consider “food.” Most of what they have is packaged and not organic. Full of high fructose corn syrup and milk powder/whey/soy protein.


I have black cat(s) also – I regularly find strange whiskers in my bed or other places. They definitely shed their whiskers just as regularly as other hair.

14 years ago

I foster kittens and am familiar with whisker mysteries. Within one litter it’s possible to have a kitten with a full set of whiskers, a kitten with broken whiskers and a kitten with stubs for whiskers. One theory is that the kittens are chewing on the whiskers of the ones with stubs & broken whiskers. Who knows? I’m fostering two Cornish Rex boys who have both long and short curly whiskers, some stubs, and a few straight ones. Their whiskers are so ugly that they’re endearing, and so are the boys. I personally think that cat and kitten whiskers are the equivalent of human eyelashes. Either you’ve great ones or you don’t.

Green Bean
14 years ago

I love confessions like the Taco Bell and See’s ones. We all do this every now and then. Someone gave our kids non-fair trade Hersey’s chocolate easter eggs. Since we couldn’t feed all those to the kids, I had to make the sacrifice. ;-)

But I’m with you about changing the way you should. It is slow and gradual but suddenly different. I rarely buy name brands anymore – either because I looking at the ingredients makes my stomach hurt or thinking about how the animals were treated or the chemicals inside make my stomach hurt.

And yes, our cat loses his whiskers from time to time and also his claws.

14 years ago

I have to agree with the previous commenter about dry cat food. I’ve always heard that it is better than wet! With wet–you’re paying for a bunch of water. They can drink from a bowl for free (almost). Try a different brand–and be sure to switch slowly. Sudden switches can cause runs and other issues–you do something like 1/4 new and 3/4 old for a week or two then 1/2 and 1/2, etc. It also gets them used to the new flavor. (We’ve switched our cats a whole bunch of times because of illnesses.) In 5 years of owning cats, we’ve fed wet food only for a month–when one of our cats was really ill and needed it to get better.

Of course, you have to get a true premium brand of cat food to make the dry food (or the wet for that matter) any good. We’re big fans of Felidae, but due to illness, can’t use it (have to use an Rx food). Basically, if you can buy it at a regular store or a national chain pet store, it’s not really premium. It has to come from a specialty, usually local, pet store.

Unfortunately, many cats won’t eat dry food once they’ve gotten used to wet. Luckily, our sick cat was just fine afterwards! (Thank goodness, because I hated the expense of wet for just a month and would refuse to give it to a cat on a permanent basis.)

14 years ago

I am guessing FLEA powder making with the tea tree oil. :)

Good luck with the food… an easy way to make wet cat food yourself is to pressure cook a chicken (bones and all) with a few veggies (carrots, sweet potatos) for an hour. The bones turn to mush and are really healthy for them. Just mix and serve… makes enough for a week for one cat.

14 years ago

Horrifyingly, a client reported at a workshop seeing every single tropical fruit in Mexico bagged in plastic while growing! That made me rethink buying tropical fruit, but I am lulled by my unplastic fair trade Ecuadorian food coop bananas. But there may be a ton of secret plastic in the production, alas.

Mold and mildew are best removed by wiping dry, keeping warm and spraying on vodka and tea tree essential oil.

Ample supplies of demerara sugar and fair trade cocoa keep us out of the fudge jars with their secret tamper-proof plastic rings. Maybe you could make some fudge up and stash it in a jar in your fridge? Medicine for the soul!

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd
14 years ago

Not sure where you heard that wet food is better, but I have been feeding dry food for years because i have been told by several vets that cats will overeat wet food but they will only ever eat as much dry as they need. Perhaps you just need to try a different brand of dry food?

14 years ago

It is normal for kitties to lose their whiskers. They will grow back. We have five cats and cleaning up whiskers with the hair goes with the territory :) I find them all over the place.

14 years ago

Yes, some cats do seem to lose their whiskers. I have 3 cats, and have never found a whisker, while other friends of mine find them quite often. Also, as an interesting side note, some scientists drag a cat whisker over their protein preparations to “seed” new crystals for X-ray crystallography to solve their structures. Just a bit of weird geek trivia for the blogosphere!

14 years ago

I never would have thought to use vodka to clean, but I have some real old and cheap leftover vodka I might have to try out. Think it’ll clean mildew off the tub?

14 years ago

We just had this banana discussion over at my place. I think the conclusion was that people will try and mix the organic and non-organic and pull one over on the banana man. Most diabolical plot ever, no?