January 27, 2011

Plastic Challenge: yaga and Trev, Week 1


yaga's & Trev's plastic waste

Name: yaga & Trev

Week: 1

Personal Info:
We are a couple living in the city of Zurich [in Switzerland], in a 30sqm one room flat. Trev is a PHD student and yaga works as a teacher 3 days a week. we mostly take stuff from home to have as lunch at work.

Total items: ~25

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
2 juice Pet bottles

PET bottles are the only plastic item that is officially collected for recycling in Switzerland.

Items: Nonrecyclable
3 Milkbottles
2 bags from pasta and such
1 container for olives
1 envelope with plastic pouch glued on
1 broken USB cable
wrappings from tofu, fabric color and choccolate
bits and pieces like bottletops, winecorks, plastic-covered paper from the back of stickers.
plastic parcel filling

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
We’re looking into buying milk from a farm where they fill up the bottles that you bring –> glass

We are trying to find an alternative to drinking orange juice in the morning, since that’s our main reason for the PET.

We will start buying pasta and rice in paper bags or at a place where you can bring your own containers to fill (not easy in Switzerland, since buying in bulk isn’t really known here)

Next time we need a new motherboard we’ll pick it up from the store instead of having it sent. ;o)

We will reuse the olive containers from the supermarket (it’s fill your own).

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
We might give a non-PET-life a go.

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

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
We will have to be a bit more inventive and flexible with buying food. It is convenient to buy everything you need at the supermarket across the street, but it is definitely worth taking the detour to the organic store or other specialists.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Trev is checking out the farm today and yaga will go and buy milk in a glass bottle at the organic store so we’ll have a container to reuse if it works out.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Making little experiments like this one is a great way to help analize our consumption habits and braking them down to manageable and even enjoyable little projects. The fact that we work together is ever so precious. We can discuss, brainstorm, motivate each other and share the list of to-do’s. :o)

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6 Comments on "Plastic Challenge: yaga and Trev, Week 1"

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Hey people, thanks so much for your suggestions. I love oranges and eat them all the time. But in the morning I need something sweet and quick to wake up, o-juice is basically my coffee. and since i don’t eat that much dairy i sometimes use fruitjuice for making muesli. So i would like to keep having it if there is a possibility. we can actually get organic, non-pasteurized juice at our supermarket, so that’s not the problem. we discussed the point yesterday and thought we’d try out one of the bigger organic stores in town, and if we can’t… Read more »

Hi, Yaga. If you can’t find it and you really like orange juice, how about squeezing your own? It only takes a minute or less to do a glassful. There are completely plastic-free manual juicers out there. Here is a stainless steel one:


Here is one that presses instead of twisting:


Here is ceramic:


Here is glass:


Anyway, it’s just a thought. That way, your juice will be absolutely fresh each morning. And you can make just as much as you will drink.

if you need more incentive to go without orange juice, do some research online about how processed it is. “flavor packets” are added because processing strips all flavor. They don’t need to specify ingredients in the packets.

Beth just posted my suggestion. I only have orange juice on special occasions after hearing a nurse explain how high in sugar it is. Putting that much sugar right into the bloodstream is a pretty drastic thing to do to the body—there’s a reason folks call for orange juice when someone is having a diabetic crisis. Of course, I don’t know about the carbon footprint of oranges in Switzerland, but perhaps another fruit would be just as good.

I was going to suggest the same thing as Beth: eat oranges and skip the juice :-)
In addition to what she’s already said, orange juice (or any industrialized juice) is pasteurized, even if available in the refrigerated shelves in the supermarket. Pasteurization arguably destroys nutrients, so why not eat the orange instead?
There’s a good book investigating the orange juice industry, Squeezed: What you don’t know about orange juice, by Alissa Hamilton.

I love that you are both working together on reducing your plastic consumption. Please let us know how it works out at the farm.

Have you considered simply eating oranges and skipping the juice? (I’m eating an orange right now, in fact.) :-) I actually stopped drinking juice a long time ago because I felt like I was getting the sugar without the fiber to slow down the metabolism of it. It had nothing to do with plastic.

Looking forward to hearing about your progress.