November 19, 2009

Year 3, Month 5 Results: 8.9 oz of Plastic Waste

Year 3 Month 5 Results

In the past month, I have given up more than plastic. I actually have not had a sip of any alcoholic beverage in 31 days. And I haven’t had coffee in that length of time either. I stopped drinking black tea 2 weeks ago. At this point, the only caffeine in my life comes from chocolate. And Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, but you’ll see the evidence of that in the tally. Oh, and no gluten either for about two months. Thanksgiving is going to be hella fun.

But you know what? Mostly I don’t miss any of it. They were habits, you know, like… the plastic habit… the convenience habit… the retail therapy habit… the fast food habit…. Honestly? I don’t want alcohol or gluten anymore. I mean, I really don’t. Just as how I can’t conceive of buying food packaged in plastic these days, the thought of drinking alcohol is a real turnoff. Coffee is a little harder. It just smells so good wafting through the air from the local cafes, especially on chilly mornings. I’ve been replacing it with more hot chocolate than is good for me. But I’m sure that will go too, once I’m ready. One thing at a time.

So, here’s the monthly plastic tally through 11/15/2009. Read it and weep, you big companies with your overly packaged crap. I don’t miss you either… most of the time.

Plastic purchased before June 2007 and finally used up this month:

  • Two bottles of WIN laundry detergent and plastic caps. We have had these sitting in the laundry basket for over two years and finally decided just to go ahead and use them up. I kind of wish we hadn’t. Our clothes have such a strong chemical smell right now. After washing with soapnuts and natural laundry powder for so long, I’m not used to the strong synthetic fragrances used by mainstream soap companies.

New plastic waste:

  • Plastic Packing tape. From delivery of something. I can’t remember what. My T-shirt quilt?
  • 2 plastic seals from around cartons of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do to get through. I have one more pint, and then I’m done. I think. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch is just so much fun because it’s like a little yummy treasure hunt, isnt’ it?
  • Plastic clothing tag hanger. Plastic clothing tag hanger from the cotton jacket I bought last month.
  • 7 plastic envelope windows. 1 EFTPS notice from the IRS, one notice from my bank, 2 from my retirement account, 1 from Sierra Club (shame on you, Sierra Club, for using plastic windows when alternatives exist), 1 from Social Security, and 1 from Senator Barbara Boxer to ask me to vote for her. Don’t worry, Barbara. I will. BTW, none were routine statements, as I’ve switched all my accounts to online billing/statements.  Read the link below for more info on what envelope windows are made from.
  • 1 prescription bottle & cap for Arya. Poor Kitty caught some kind of bug and need antibiotics. That was a treat for all concerned. The first morning, I fought with her for an hour trying to get half a pill in her. After that, we discovered Greenies Pill Pockets, which are yummy stinky cat treats that are made to hide pills. They come in a plastic bag, which will go into my tally when they are used up at some point. Hopefully never because after a few days, Arya caught on and didn’t want the pills hidden in the treats either.Holy smokes! If you think that was bad, you should have heard the ungodly sounds that came out of her the night Michael and I tried to take her temperature. We’re talking Exorcist kitty. For real. Then, we found this video online about how to take a cat’s temperature. All I can say is, no way man. The cat in that video? Is on Xanax.Oh, and one more thing about prescription bottles — they are not refillable by pharmacies where we live. But #5 Rx bottles can be dropped off to Preserve through their Gimme 5 program.
  • 2 plastic Straus milk caps. Straus milk comes in returnable glass bottles, but the caps are still plastic. Read about Straus milk below. Would avoiding plastic be easier if I went vegan? Maybe. But I can only eliminate so many foods at a time, people. Give me a break!
  • Plastic Rolaids bottle and cap. Okay, this is part of the reason I gave up gluten. Trying to figure out what’s going on with my tummy. The trouble began while I was in Hawaii dealing with family issues and continued after. I think the gluten-free diet is helping, if only I could resist eating late at night. Remember when I wrote about eating too much bread? Thing of the past.  Oh, and in anticipation of someone recommending baking soda as an alternative to Rolaids, I’ll just say that it’s very high in sodium, so I’m not sure it’s a better choice.
  • 2 plastic blister packs from a prescription. One that I suspect is helping me resist alcohol, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
  • Plastic threads and cap from a tube of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. The tube is made from aluminum and returnable to Tom’s for recycling. See the links at the bottom of this post for more information.
  • 1 expired credit card.

Plastic waste not included in the tally:

Here are the items I refused to accept, but for which I take responsibility nevertheless:

  • Plastic wrapper from an otherwise plastic-free photo album from the Green Festival. I’ll write more about the photo album after I’ve used it at some point in the future.  I handed back the plastic wrapper to the merchant, explaining why I don’t appreciate plastic packaging.
  • 2 Tyvek wrist bands from the Green Festival. I actually refused to put them on my wrist and handed them back in at the end of the festival to be reused.  Doing this actually caused a mini ruckus.  They tried to insist that I wear the wrist bands, which would have rendered them unreusable.  I explained, with a smile on my face, why I could not accept their disposable plastic.  After all, it’s the Green Festival!  I’ve searched online and can’t find any type of security wristband that is not made from plastic.
  • Plastic salsa container from Green Festival food vendor. I’m not sure this one counts.  I handed the vendor my LunchBots container for my food.  The server was happy to oblige me but included my salsa in a plastic container.  However, before handing it to me, he actually asked if I wanted it or not and said he’d use it for someone else if I didn’t.  He got it!  He knew I wouldn’t want that plastic.  I just thought I would mention it here even though it ended up as someone else’s trash — not mine.

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Lara S.
13 years ago

I’ve given up coffee too, and that is great because it wasn’t good for my tummy. Since I used to drink it with milk and sugar, I don’t take those either anymore, which makes me proud because I consider milk is a waste of resources, since we can get the same nutrients in a more concentrated way through eating cheese (so we could avoid the extra packaging of milk bottles and their transportation. The cheese I eat is wrapped in plastic though.)
Now I drink one cup of tea per day, without any sweetners or milk.
I’m trying to give up sugar, for the sake of my pancreas, and I’m managing pretty well considering the amount I used to eat.
Congrats on your healthy diet and the little plastic!!

Lisa @ Retro Housewife Goes Green
13 years ago

I would die without tea, not due to caffeine as caffeine doesn’t do anything for me and I can go without it just fine. I just love tea.

My husband has given up caffeine though so I know it’s hard. I’m sure you will feel better when it’s all said and done though!

Oh and I so know what you mean about chemical smells in clothes. It took a half dozen washes, airing out and lots of Biokleen Bac-out to get the nasty chemicals out of a blanket we got from Etsy that the person packed with a dryer sheet. I had cluster headaches for over a week.

The Green Cat
13 years ago

I have never liked the smell of laundry detergent anyway. I’ve been using soap nuts for quite a while now and the other day I realized that my sweater smelled like laundry detergent. Hmmm… So did my t-shirts. And my towels… I came to the conclusion that the laundromat I have been using (slightly closer to my new apartment) must not be cleaning out their machines well enough since I was obviously smelling the residue of someone else’s detergent on my clothes. I went back to my old laundromat and all is well again.

Oh, and I can’t imagine MY SISTER would dare to send you a package with plastic tape. Is it true?? ;)

13 years ago

Hi Veronique. I find immense pleasure in playing with and just watching my my kitties; riding my bike around town; dark chocolate; hanging my clothes to dry (really!); figuring out new web programs; karaoke; and many other things.

Alcohol is not bad for everyone. In fact, I think good wine is one of the special pleasures of life. But it was no longer a pleasure for me. It had become a problem and didn’t make me feel good anymore.

Veronique La Salle
13 years ago

Really interesting blog. I feel less lonely in this consumer world.

So, I truly understand your feelings about plastic. I also know that drinking is a matter of habit but I can’t give it up… It is my litlle evening pleasure after a sometimes not completetly satisfying day. Where do you find your little pleasure? Your life is honestly fulfilled by your job? You have kids who keep you busy?

Also, I’m far from being caffeine free but I stopped adding milk and sugar to my morning coffe which give me the opportunity to absorb the antioxidant available in my black sirup…

Anyway, it was some thoughts that came to my mind.

Again, you have a really interesting and attractive blog!


Aaron Shaw PhD
13 years ago

Bravo! We gave up the caffeine some time ago as well!

13 years ago

We use the pill pockets too; our cat is on meds twice a day for the rest of his life. He very quickly got wise to the pill inside, but I was able to trick him by using two spoons to crush the pill into a powder, then pour the powder into the pill pocket. Close the pocket and knead it so the powder is blended throughout the treat, reshape it into a little blob then present it to his royal highness. He gobbles it up while I wash the stink off my fingers.

Zoe V.
13 years ago

Beth, if I may suggest, check out Yerba Mate in place of black tea and coffee. It’s an ancient elixir that is prepared similarly to tea and coffee, has the same amount of caffeine as coffee but no negative effects whatsoever. It’s nutrient and anti-oxidant dense. Best thing you can put into your body. That’s what I have been drinking every morning for the last month and love it!!! :-)

13 years ago


wow, ok. anyway, props for giving up coffee. I tried doing that once, but to no avail. I blame it on school.

sincerely, the kitteh-obsessed

13 years ago

Hi Beth,
I thought of you in my yoga class today. The teacher walked in holding a disposable water bottle! I immediately thought of your encounter with the meditation teacher drinking from a disposable water bottle a while ago.

Haven’t commented much here but I read every single post you write. Thanks so much for your efforts and for sharing your thoughts with us!

13 years ago

Good on you for the foods/drinks you’ve chosen to give up. I’ve given up soooo many foods/drinks in recent years because of digestive issues — it just got to where the discomfort, pain, etc., wasn’t worth the momentary “yum”. Someone asked me this week what I miss the most and iced tea and corn are really the only things I truly miss. I never would’ve thought I *wouldn’t* miss ice cream, cheesecake, and those kinds of things, but it’s been long enough now that I don’t. So I’m assuming one day I won’t miss iced tea and corn either ;-).

Your plastics trash for the month is very inspirational (how little there is, I mean). I’ve been making much use of your List of Plastic-Free Changes this week, as part of my doing No Impact Experiment week (though, for me, it’s A Lot Less Impact rather than No Impact!).

The plastic waste not included in the tally is pretty interesting, and informative too (esp. the tyvek wristband info).

Stacy @ Moderate Means
13 years ago

Thank you for this post. I have managed to slow down the flow of plastic into (and therefore out of) my house but it’s so hard. It’s everywhere I turn and for everything I eliminate, 2 more things seem to pop up. I found your blog last week and it’s been inspiring.

Condo Blues
13 years ago

It’s a shame that WIN has that chemically laundry detergent smell. I found a liquid oxygen bleach that would allow me to use liquid detergent in my HE washer and I considered buying WIN. Looks like I’m going to stick with my homemade powder detergent – it’s plastic free!

13 years ago

That is such good work on the alcohol resistance! I know how hard it is to try to change habits, so you need to be really proud!

If it gets tough, write about it. We’re all 100% behind you.

Beth Terry
13 years ago

Oh no, you don’t Miss Raven. Those “glasses” are great for all sorts of beverages. Especially when other people are drinking wine. I can look like I fit right in.

LaciR, I do have some Pepto lozenges that have been around for a while. Unfortunately, I didn’t have them with me on vacation. And Rolaids come in yummy Wintergreen flavor. Ah well. They are gone now, and hopefully, I won’t need anything else. I do think eating late at night doesn’t help. Need to work on that. When I’m tired, it’s harder to resist temptation.

13 years ago

I just recently gave up gluten for a similar tummy issue. It’s actually easier than I thought it would be and I don’t miss it either. I’ve had less problems since going on the diet. They say not to use Rolaids, though. Pepto Bismol is the recommended remedy for heartburn, IBS and celiac related issues. Unless you are allergic to bismuth, that is.
Sad part……..pepto comes in a nasty plastic bottle…./sigh

The Raven
13 years ago

Does this mean you’ll no longer need those fabulous metal wine glasses??? (Need my address?)