A record of my efforts to live a more sustainable life.

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge - Week 1 - December 13 - December 19, 2009

I'm already on week 5 of the Show Us Your Plastic Challenge, but I want to have all my progress recorded here, so I will now begin back-posting my plastic collections. I should be caught up pretty soon. So here's week 1!

Recyclable Items (7):
  • 1 raspberries container (PETE 1)
  • 2 milk jugs with lids (HDPE 2)
  • 1 milk jug security seal
  • 1 lid from Bulk Barn container
  • 2 fountain drink lids (PS 6)

Non-Recyclable Items (29):
  • 1 McCain hashbrowns bag*
  • 1 wrapper from microwave popcorn
  • 1 gingerbread man wrapper
  • 1 organic bananas bag*
  • 1 toothpaste tube
  • 1 dried mangoes bag
  • 2 bags from Kraft shredded cheese
  • 1 grocery bag from Cookies by George (will be reused but eventually will end up as a garbage bag)*
  • 1 wrapper from caramel apple pop
  • 1 bubble wrap envelope, with more bubble wrap inside, and a plastic package
  • 4 flimsy plastic bags from Bulk Barn*
  • 2 Booster Juice straws
  • 1 apple turnover filling packet
  • 1 icing packet
  • 1 bread bag
  • 1 caramel apple bag
  • 1 plastic fork
  • 2 fountain drink straws
  • 1 veggie ground round package
  • 1 plastic wrap from brownies
  • 1 plastic bag from 7-11 candies
  • 1 price tag attacher
  • 1 wrapper from Pot of Gold

* These items would be recyclable, but my city's recycling program does not accept plastic bags (not just grocery bags, but anything bag-shaped). I have no idea why.

Total Items: 36

First, a quick explanation...
Saturday of this week was my family Christmas party, which means a tonne of food prepared, with me eating a bit of everything. Also, in preparation for this, my mom cleaned out the cupboards, so more stuff got thrown away all at once than is usual. Hopefully future weeks will show a marked decrease because of this...

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
I just ordered a glass straw from Glass Dharma, so that will eliminate the straws. I'm also planning on ordering some reusable produce and bulk bags. Nothing else here is really very easy to replace because it's my mom who does most of the grocery shopping. One thing I could do is do a better job of remembering to tell salespeople that I don't need packaging (like the bag for the caramel apple that I was eating right away anyway).

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
I could probably give up Pot of Gold chocolates.

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?
Most of them. Cheese can easily be shredded by hand instead of buying it in bags (although cheese comes wrapped in plastic too). Hashbrowns could also be made by hand. Instead of microwave popcorn I could use regular popcorn. I even have a popcorn maker. However, I just like the taste of microwave popcorn better, unfortunately. We'll see on that one.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Those little bits of plastic that attach price tags to clothing are everywhere! Luckily, I'm not a big shopper, so I don't really get many of them. Raspberries only come in plastic containers, except at the farmer's market, which is only open in summer.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
I eat a lot of candy. Looking at this list, that seems to be a big source of plastic. I need to start favouring candy and other junk food that doesn't come in plastic packaging, like a lot of bulk stuff, once I get my reusable bulk bags.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Plastic is everywhere! I never noticed until I started this challenge. The worst thing I realised is that organic food has more packaging than non-organic food. I'm a fairly big supporter of the organic food industry, so that poses a bit of a challenge. And I just don't think I can go back to regular bananas when the organic ones taste so much better!


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