Recently, Beth at fakeplasticfish challenged her readers to keep their plastic waste for a week, as a social experiment, and answer some questions about said waste. Here is the entry from the High Lane jury (a phrase which, I now realise, will be meaningless to anyone outside the range of the Eurovision song contest, and who only started following it recently. *sigh* so old, and yet so young…):
We are: Jude (36 – same age as Marilyn Monroe & Princess Diana when they died), Steve (will be 15000 days old in August), Lily (5 1/5), Joel (3 1/2) and Bruiser the cat (14) (who this week created no plastic waste – well done B)
Here’s the picture:
Here’s the list:
1 x 4-pack of beer-can rings (especially bad for sea-birds & small mammals – start with the best, eh?!)
2 x chocolate bar wrappers
1 x sweets bag
2 x chocolate biscuit wrappers
1 x Crisps bag
1 x orange carton 4-pack wrapper
2 x cherry tomatoes plastic carton (R)
1 x sausages container (R)
2 x prawns container (R)
1 x Doughnuts container (R)
1 x chicken kievs container (R)
1 x sliced ham container (R)
3 x cereal packet inner bags
1 x plastic-fronted sandwich bag
1 x hot chocolate jar + lid (R)
1 x coke bottle (R)
1 x water bottle (R)
1 x cheese spread container (R)
3 x takeaway containers (R) + 2 that were thrown away
2 x drinking straws
1 x bananas bag
2 x cherry tomatoes wrappers
1 x grapes bag
7 x sandwich cling film
1 x frankfurters packet
1 x frozen peas bag
1 x washing up sponge
1 x hot dog rolls bag
1 x cheese wrapper
1 x coffee lid inner
1 x cucumber wrapper
1 x yakult wrapper
1 x balloons bag
5 window envelopes
7 mini-cheddars bags + outer bag
2 see-through mailers
1 x coffee jar lid (R)
2 x milk carton lids (the plastic snappy bit off the top of the tetra pack)
1 x 2-pint milk carton (R)
wine bottle top cover (+ cork, I guess)
11 yoghurt pots (R) (+ lids) (+ 2 thrown away @ nursery)
3 x yakult pots (R)
1 old-fashioned light bulb (I’ve included this because I’m sure it must involve plastic somewhere)
2 x dishwasher tablet wrappers
2 x sandwich plastic cartons
4 pairs pull-ups
…all comes to 725g + 4 pairs of pull-ups
I weighed what’s pictured, and then added 10% to allow for: general forgetfulness & the stuff I knew I didn’t have.
There’s already quite a bit of waste eliminated in the way we live & shop, but there is more I could do. I want to get washable wrappers for the kid’s sandwiches, as the cling film (ceran wrap) makes my skin crawl, and just doesn’t feel like a caring way of presenting Lunch. Also, we have baby food containers which could be used for yoghurt, so we could turn 4-6 small yoghurt pots into one (re-usable) large pot. The yakult was free from the milkman, as a sample. We won’t be getting it again – it’s too expensive & wasteful, especially with potentially 4 takers in the household. The chocolate biscuits could be replaced with home-cooked lovely cakes, but I’d still need to separate them out in the box so there would be 7 bits of cling film again. I re-use margarine tubs as lunch boxes rather than buying new, and we wash the plastic spoons used for yoghurt.
Food & vegetable wrappers *could* be reduced. The children are approaching the age where I now have more appetite for shopping in local shops rather than the national-chain supermarket. I already buy veggies from Tesco without using bags, and I take my own shopping bags with me – a cool bag and 5-6 fabric bags. I got them from Asda for just over 50p each and they are THE BEST. Each one stands in for at least 3 supermarket plastic bags. We still have *some* bags coming into the house, but they are usually when Steve stops off to get dinner/beer/chocolate on the way home. I’ve considered putting a bag or two in his car, but I fear they would just stop in the car. We used to use the few bags that came in as nappy sacks, but now that Joel uses the toilet, I’m thinking I will need to start taking some back to the recycling point at the supermarket. When we get groceries delivered (which I *occasionally* do) I ask them to not-include plastic bags (otherwise, the number you get completely trashes any effort make in bag reduction over roughly a 6-month period – one time I got FIFTEEN bags with my stuff. PLEASE!) which although it means you end up with a kitchen table full of stuff, gets you GREEN points on your loyalty card.
Drinking straws – I’ve taken to rinsing & re-using so we’re getting through about 2 per week instead of 14.
Pull-ups – Joel recently started using the toilet. I’m not confident about night-time dryness, so we use pull-ups although if they’re dry in the morning, they get re-used the following night. This is why there aren’t 7 of them. The sandwiches at work needs addressing. Just as I started this week, the sandwich shop we used to get our lunch from rose phoenix-like from the ashes of its gone-bust-ness and started bringing them to the office again. In a crazy-busy week they’ve been a life-saver, but at £5 per day it’s costing too much.
Post – I send back a lot of junk mail, but still get a lot of stuff that could probably be eliminated.
The beer, wine & chocolate needs cutting back anyway. This week was a relatively light week, as I’m starting on that process already.
I shop at Tesco because although Asda’s at the leading edge with fabulous re-usable bags, our local Asda (now owned by Wal-Mart) is in a low-income area and the right-on-middle class environmentally friendly cleaning products and green products generally are in short supply. There’s almost a sign next to the ONE thing they have in the cleaning products aisle “if you want to get this, and not the 10p-for-5-gallons-own-brand ALERT – you’ve strayed into the wrong supermarket! Buy this now, and leave quickly before you see poor people!!” Also, Tesco give me loyalty card points for bringing my own bags. And finally – it’s nearer.
To answer another of Beth’s questions, I *would* buy from a bulk-bin store. I will do some research to find out if there’s one within a 100-mile radius! I fear the best option may be Costco, which doesn’t solve the problem we’re trying to address here!
update: I keep meaning to re-format this for putting into Beth’s plastic challenge blog, but keep procrastinating. Instead, I think we’ll do another week soon.
Changes that I’ve/we’ve already made:
1. we use zip-loc bags for sandwiches – they get washed each time & so far each has lasted around a month. I have a box of 1000 of them left-over from my old craft company so they may as well get used sometime.
2. we use the baby food pots for yoghurt. They have a good seal & hold about the right amount. I think Lily initially had problems getting the lid off (she’s a delicate flower, eh) but now they’re used to it. And none have gone missing yet.
3. I need to work on the going to local shops & avoiding plastic bags there.
Also, my own mentality is changing. I was chatting to another mum in the supermarket and she said “we needed more plastic cups”. They were actually melamine (not sure how much difference that makes – still basically plastic, though, right?) but it made me stop and think – I usually refer to melamine as “unbreakable” – however, Joel has proven several times it’s not unbreakable, just harder to break – and honestly – we’re buying plastic stuff for our kids to eat & drink from. It just made me think – we have lots of old crockery which I don’t care if it gets broken. Dishes rarely get thrown on the floor these days. Some turnover of cups might not be a bad thing. Part of me baulks because, if something is dropped on our kitchen floor it shatters & scatters to the 4 corners of the HOUSE, never mind the room (including round corners & up stairs – honestly) and often breaks the floor tiles (first thing I did – ask the kids – dropped the tea jar & broke the floor. Legendary). But the upshot it, we won’t be buying more plastic crockery. At least, not in the short term.