Week One: Bread, Cheese, and Chocolate :O)

Is that a face of shame? Let’s see what we produced in week one:

IMG_5142

Week One:

– 4 Plastic Caps
– 4 Chocolate Bar Wrappers
– 4 Bread Bag
– 3 Tetra Paks (almond milk, soy milk, veggie broth)
– 3 Itunes Gift Cards (+Pkg)
– 3 Cheese Films
– 2 Plastic Cups- Syrup and Bubble tea
– 2 LED light Bulb Package
– 2 Name Tags
– 2 Yeast Package
– Breakfast Bar wrapper
– Tomato Container
– Earth Balance Tub
– Bread Tie
– 3×10 Cling Wrap
– Poster Bag
– Vital Wheat Gluten Liner
– Carrot Bag
– Pita Chip Bag
– Plastic Film and Packaging Tape from Ikea Butchers Block

– Pasta Bag
– Powerberries wrapper
– Hole Punch package
– Plastic Cover for Hummus
– Charlie Ticket
– Broken ID
– Kale Twist Tie
– Various Stickers and Labels

Here’s a closer look:

IMG_5148

It makes me wonder: What can you tell about people from their trash?

The first thing that sticks out to me is that the majority of this waste came from our food.  Take a look in your kitchen, most of what we eat comes packaged in plastic!  It contains our orange juice and milk.  It keeps our cereal fresh.  It houses our yogurt.  It even lines the metal cans in our pantry.

I think this is a good time to come clean about our pre-existing Plastiphobia.  If you look back at the list above you wont see cereal bags and yogurt containers on the list.  Instead I make granola from scratch ingredients bought in bulk and we buy yogurt in glass bottles from Whole Foods.  Noticeably absent are plastic drink bottles, the #1 most used plastic item in America.  Unlike most Americans we don’t drink soda or bottled water.  Yes, we live a “green” life, you might say.  Yes, we have vegan-like tendencies, if you ignore the cheese wrappers from this week ;O). We have already intentionally eliminated much plastic from our lives, and feel healthier and happier as a result.  I hope, through these posts, to show you why!

Yet, we obviously don’t avoid plastic completely, nor is that our intention.  Plastic is essentially unavoidable in this day and age, but we strive to only use it when necessary.  Because let’s be serious, does it make sense to use something that is designed to last forever once then throw it away?

So let’s talk films, and I’m not talking about Hollywood.  I mean the plastic films that make up grocery bags, food wrappings, and most of the packaging Brandon and I produced this week.  It kept our bread and cheese fresh, surrounded the butchers block I picked up from IKEA, and let us indulge in chocolate treats all week long.  It’s some useful stuff!  But when you look into it, most of these films are made from LDPE (low density polyethalene, or #4 plastic if you pay attention to those little recycling codes).  LDPE is notorious for having a low rate of recyclability.  Most curbside programs wont accept them, so throwing them into your curbside bin is the same as throwing them in the trash. Some grocery stores provide collection bins but seriously, how many people do you know who save all their grocery bags and return them to the grocery store?  And they also have the pesky habit of going airborne, so even when properly disposed of they can travel by wind into waterways and landscapes.

So how do Brandon and I avoid plastic films?  Well for one, we never use plastic grocery bags.  We make sure to bring our own, and begrudgingly use paper bags when we forget.  We have also been know to walk out of grocery stores with armloads of loose groceries, getting all sorts of strange looks as we go, in our stubborn effort to reduce.  While we can’t seem to get bread and cheese film-free, we can get fresh produce that way.  This fall, after returning home from researching the effects plastic has on the ocean, I got out the old sewing machine and made myself cotton produce bags. Check em out!

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And have since had many requests to distribute them.  I am not starting a business (yet?), but you can buy reusable produce bags online here and here!  The way I think of it is that using plastic bags week after week can be mindless, seemingly worth the convenience.  But there are over 7 billion of us doing just that, mindlessly consuming, and even if a small percentage of those bags escape and end up in the environment, that small percentage can be a huge number and have a huge effect decade after decade.  It’s time to inconvenience ourselves, so we can live sustainably on the limited resources our planet provides.

What plastic did you use this week? What steps do you take to use less plastic bags and films?

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10 thoughts on “Week One: Bread, Cheese, and Chocolate :O)

  1. This is great! I was actually musing over the problem of the produce bag this week, worrying about keeping things fresh in the fridge. Using your links, I just I found those ChicoBags which have different styles designed for different produce types! Genius! You just changed this household.

  2. Dairy is a huge source of plastic film. Try and see if any places around you sell cheese in wax paper. Try and find bakeries that will sell you bread in paper. They will usually slice it for you, too. That way you still have sandwich bread. Try to think of simpler snack foods. Maybe bread and oil and vinegar or fruit instead of chips.

    Go team! You too are great for doing this.

    • Oh how I lived in Portland like you :O) It can be tough in Massachusetts suburbia to find things like this. One of my critiques of this area is that it lacks community centers. Everyone is expected to be supermarket drones. There is a bakery we love love LOVE but it is a 30 minute drive away. These are not excuses, just reasons why we must look harder :O)

  3. Thanks for writing this blog Kim — it is inspiring me to overhaul my plastic use for real. I totally do that grocery carrying thing too…. or stuff it all in my bigass purse!

    • Haha Thanks Nicole! That’s exactly what I’m hoping to do this year. My plastic research made me realize we really need to reevaluate our relationship to plastic. I think the best way to start is start talking abut it and sharing ideas.

  4. Sometimes, when I’m walking home from a store or school, I see plastic bags stuck in trees or on the sidewalk. If it’s within my reach, I will take it with me and walk with it until I find somewhere to dispose of it/recycle it. I know it’s not the same as reducing waste, but I hope that it is at least reducing the probability of animals (namely birds and flying foxes, who seem to own Australia) getting caught in it or choking on small plastic pieces! I’m heading back to Townsville tomorrow to continue my journey on debunking the claim that bats are dirty, scary creatures. As I do this, I will also make sure to make my immediate environment a bit less dirty and scary for all creatures by reducing my plastic consumption! I will start by following your instructions and make my own soymilk. I can’t wait to tell you how it turns out!

    • Yay Cort! I’m so sad I didn’t get to see you before you left :O( And I’m INSANELY jealous that you have flying foxes down under, namely because we watched Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind the other night. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it to anyone who is an environmentalist at heart. It speaks so directly to so many of the issues we are facing today…. and features and adorable flying fox :O)

      • Nausicaa is one of my favorite Miyazaki movies! If you think that’s environmental-ly, check out another of his movies: Princes Mononoke. It’s not as child-friendly as Nausicaa, but it’s beautiful and makes me happy to be doing what I do!

  5. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Plastiphobe :OD | WasteWatchers

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