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

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: January 2011

Well, here goes. It's my first month of counting my plastic by month instead of by week. Since I probably averaged around 10 items a week before, it stands to reason that in a month I'd accumulate at around 40. Yet still I was not prepared. The good news is, I think this change will definitely serve its purpose of further motivating me to decrease my plastic usage. Seeing a month's worth of plastic piling up in the corner was just depressing.

For too long I've just been counting my plastic. It's been at a standstill for so long that it often feels like I can't get the numbers any lower. Now I see that that has to change. Call it a New Year's Resolution, slightly belated. I need to put more effort into analysing my habits and finding concrete solutions. It's time to put the "effort" back in "An Effort in Green".

Recyclable Items (9)
  • 3 orange juice cartons
  • 1 M&Ms tube (PP 5)
  • 2 tic tac containers (PP 5)
  • 1 plain soy milk carton
  • 1 chocolate soy milk carton
  • 1 cannelloni container (PETE 1)

Non-Recyclable Items (32):
  • 2 pill packages
  • 3 cereal bags
  • 1 Toblerone wrapper (when did these start coming in plastic?!)
  • 4 bread bags
  • 4 sponge toffee bags (ah, the holidays...)
  • 1 garlic bread wrapper
  • 4 drink carton seals
  • 1 bag from a pre-ordered book (when did Chapters switch from cardboard to plastic for this?)
  • 1 soda crackers package
  • 1 wrapper from a box of After Eights
  • 2 cheese slice wrappers
  • 2 microwave popcorn wrappers
  • 1 pilaf package
  • 1 pilaf spice package
  • 1 apple turnover filling package
  • 1 strawberry turnover filling package
  • 2 icing packages

Total Items: 41

Now, some analysis. First, a few items are holiday-specific, i.e. the M&Ms tube, the tic tacs, and the Toblerone. They were gifts that I wouldn't typically buy myself. The After Eights and sponge toffee are usually only available around Christmas, so they won't be common items either.

Next: What could I easily eliminate with just a little bit of effort? Answer: the bread and cereal bags. I can get bread in paper bags, it just takes a bit more effort and dealing with salespeople who don't understand why I wouldn't want plastic. Hence, my mom usually doesn't want to make that effort, so if I just went out and bought my own bread this wouldn't be an issue. As for cereal, I need to find a good bulk cereal to replace the Honey Nut Cheerios and Mini Wheats. It'll probably end up being better for me anyway. Also, popcorn. I have a hot air popper. I'm just too picky about my popcorn. Sure, the microwave one has more flavour, but it also has more weird chemicals. So I need to just get over it and butter my own darn popcorn.

At some point, I also want to learn to make homemade versions of the apple turnovers, strawberry turnovers, and cinnamon buns that Jonathon and I so enjoy. But that's a bigger project.


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