Monday, October 12, 2009

Plastic Challenge - week 1

Here's the week 1 pic. As Beth (aka Fake Plastic Fish) suggested I didn't change any habits this week. This will be our baseline.

As per the challenge rules, I need to answer some questions....
Week #:1
Name: Green grrl
Recyclable Items
  1. 2 jugs (local apple cider) - recycling #2 - this is included in our curbside recycling

Non-recyclable Items
  1. 1 potato chip bag

  2. 1 package - organic sausages

  3. 1 bag tortilla chips - bag looked to be paper but is fully plastic on the inside

  4. 2 pieces saran wrap *

  5. 1 plastic window from a bag of bread

  6. 1 bag local cheese curds

  7. 2 stickers from a box of choc

  8. plastic security seal from eye drops

  9. label from a glass bottle of juice

  10. cough drop wrappers

  11. 2 cookie wrappers*

  12. 1 bag salad greens - opened badly so hard to reuse

  13. conference name tag (printed on hard plastic like a credit card - grrrr)

  14. conference name tag holder

  15. styrofoam container - went to a restaurant that only served in styrofoam!

  16. small plastic pot and lid

  17. 4 plastic grocery bags (not depicted)

*items with a star are from my lunches at a conference I attended last week - I was going to bring my own but figured since they were making a lunch for me and the plastic would be going into the garbage anyway, I may as well get the lunch. Good decision?

Total number of items = 32
Total weight of plastic stash = 7oz
Tally analysis

  • What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
    *sausages - bought from a butcher in butcher paper
    *choc box stickers - easy to get choc in non plastic packaging

  • What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
    *potato chips
    *tortilla chips
    *any food served only in styrofoam at restaurants

  • How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
    *cheese curds?
    *perogies (was what was in the styrofoam)

  • What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
    *local apple cider (I know not really essential but so good and only available for a short period. Will keep looking for glass though)

  • What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
    *less junk food

  • What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

  • What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
    *I'm actually surprised there wasn't more plastic. I'm annoyed at the conference pass thing. Am going to write to the organizers to see if they can do it with less plastic next year (is an annual conference).

Personal description
  • location = Ottawa, ON, Canada

  • gender = female

  • relationship status = married no kids

  • work=in an office

**I totally encourage anyone else who is interested to also sign up for this challenge.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for participating in the challenge. Did anything surprise you?

I just sent you a WordPress login so you can post your photo and tally on the challenge site. It's not so different from Blogger, but please let me know if you need help.


Green Grrl said...

Hi Beth!
I just posted my week 1 results. Think it worked ok but let me know if anything looks funny.

I think I was most surprised that out of 32 items, only 2 items were recyclable. Crazy when the common message is - use as much plastic as you want - it's recyclable!

Thanks again for the challenge! :)

I'll be back for week 2.

Je me souviens said...

Bonne chance!
Ça ne doit vraiment pas être évident...
Il me semble qu'il y a du plastique dans tout!

Packaging USA | Wrapping Supplies said...

Thanks for participating in the challenge. It's so wonderful to see the influence. That's not much plastic waste when you compare to some bins.


Green Grrl said...

Merci je me souviens!
J'apprends que c'est possible d'éviter le plastique.

Kif said...

Just looking through some older posts from your blog. Am slowly trying to consider options for what I buy that contains plastic but was really disappointed when I went to my local grocery store and found that some of my condiments that I always bought in glass jars were just not available in glass anymore! No choice but plastic. So frustrating. Also used to buy epsom salt in the milk cartons (there is still some plastic there but felt better about the purchase than buying jugs!) and now I can't find anything but the plastic jugs. Why is there less and less choice out there? : (

Green Grrl said...

Hi Kif,

Very good question! My feeling is that the increased use of plastic for packaging (vs. glass) is due to ease of shipping long distances and because in general customers are fairly ambivalent when faced with the option of plastic over glass. And I think that ambivalence is mostly due to well promoted recycling programs. Don't get me wrong, I think recycling is absolutely essential but I also think that recycling has been promoted to the point where most consumers believe that it is possible to be sustainable and still consume as much plastic as desired - because it can all be recycled.

As always when thinking about challenges around plastic I tend to think (what would Beth do?). I know Beth has recommended to me in the past to ask local producers of products (e.g. apple cider) if they can use glass instead of plastic. I think this is a great suggestion.

As for condiments - have you ever tried making your own? You'd be amazed what's possible. I made my own ketchup last year and it's awesome. And I'll never buy store bought jam again - homemade is SO much better!

Re:Epsom salt. If you are in Ottawa, I *think* Herb and Spice carries it and they let you bring your own containers. If in Canada I think Bulk Barn carries Epsom salt. They won't let you lose your own containers. You can use your own paper bags though. They'll give you a hard time at the cash but they'll let you get away with it (something about contamination from using your own bag bla bla bla...). Good luck! :)