After a week of collecting all of our plastic waste in a pile in the kitchen, we are thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. Here’s our summary.
- There are four of us: 2 adults, 1 child (9), 1 baby (5 months)
- All of my plastic waste is included. Baby Jupiter’s disposable diapers were not included because I didn’t really want them hanging around. He averages 3 disposables/night (cloth during the day), so we can safely add 21 diapers to our tally. Mr. Legume presumably had additional waste that ended its life at his office and is not included here. Bug brought home all the plastic that was sent to school in his lunch box, so that’s included… but he spent 2 days at his dad’s place and I can’t be held accountable for that household’s waste too, so that’s not included.
- We collected for 7 full days.
The Reuse pile:
That’s 3 large Amazon Fresh plastic bags, 4 produce bags, and 2 Ziplock sandwich bags. These can all easily be reused. They can also be reduced through discontinuing use of Amazon Fresh (I’ve selected their “less packaging” delivery option, but still receive at least 4 plastic bags per order), our new reusable produce bags, and more consistent use of our cloth sandwich bags.
The recycle pile:
That’s 7 takeout containers (from dinners over the weekend); 2 juice jugs (sans lids, which are too small to be recycled in Seattle); 1 salsa container; 1 sour cream container and lid; several produce bags (I cleaned out the fridge) that could be reused if I didn’t already have so many; 1 scones container; 1 fruit container, and lid.
Reduction here comes down primarily on the use of fewer conveniences (take out, pre-cut fruit, pre-made salsa) and using our new reusable produce bags.
And the trash pile:
That’s 2 plastic-windowed envelopes (the paper part of the envelopes will be recycled); 1 baby carrots bag; 1 frozen dinner wrapper; 1 cereal bag; 1 ravioli container; 1 tube of diaper rash cream; 1 bag of rice chips; the top to a plastic-lined bag of tortilla chips; various small plastic lids; 1 hotdog package (Mr. Legume was out of town for part of the week, and Bug and I upped our convenience food intake); multiple fruit snack wrappers (from Bug’s school lunch); 3 red twist-tie type things from Amazon Fresh orders; interior bag from box of crackers; 2 produce bags tied around meat trays (to keep the stench of rotting meat from filling the house); 2 packages of string cheese, plus several wrappers from the individual cheeses; 1 bag of Doritos (another thing I blame on Mr. Legume: he goes out of town, baby Jupiter screams uncontrollably for 2 days, I need comfort food); 1 wrapper for cheddar cheese; 2 gum package wrappers; interior bag for box of freezer waffles.
Reduction here again comes down to using fewer convenience foods. Finding less heavily packaged options for Bug’s school lunch foods will help too.
The VAST majority of our plastic waste is food related. The grocery store shall become my new battlefield!
As part of Plastic Free February, we are collecting our plastic waste for one week. This is a little counter-intuitive, because if we were actually plastic free in February, we wouldn’t have any plastic waste to collect. Right?
Sadly, we have plenty to collect. Yesterday Bug and I spread the collection from just one day on the kitchen floor to examine our progress.
- Two Amazon Fresh plastic bags from a recent delivery. (These arrive, despite the fact that I select the “less packaging” option every time I order. More infuriating is that one of those bags held a package of sausages that were inside yet another plastic bag, while the other held a single lemon. Why the sausages and the lemon couldn’t be put in the same plastic bag – or no plastic bag at all – is beyond me.)
- Red twist tie-type thing that holds Amazon Fresh crates closed.
- One interior plastic bag from a box of frozen waffles.
- One Odwalla juice jug, plus lid.
- Two plastic-windowed envelopes.
- Two string cheese wrappers.
- One Orbits gum 3-pack wrapper.
- One Orbits gum wrapper (the wrapper inside the 3-pack wrapper).
- One bag of Rice Chips (this is extra embarrassing in that I ate that entire bag in one day).
- The cut-off corner to a bag of baby carrots (the remainder of the bag will likely show up later in the week).
- One ziplock baggie from Bug’s lunch bag.
- One plastic-lined top to a bag of tortilla chips (the remainder of this bag will also show up later this week).
- One cap to a carton of orange juice.
If that’s just 24 hours, imagine what the pile will look like by the end of the week.
As we reviewed our stash, I asked Bug to suggest ways that we could reduce our waste. We could stop ordering from Amazon Fresh, he suggested. Make waffles from scratch (which would be divine, but honestly isn’t likely to happen during the rushed week-day mornings). Buy regular carrots instead of packaged baby ones (this representing a huge break through – Bug used to only eat baby carrots). Use ReUsies instead of ziplocks to pack lunch. We also talked about what items we can reuse and what we can recycle.
So, while we’re not plastic free yet, I like to think that participating this month is providing ample educational opportunities. If nothing else, Bug now walks around pointing at things and gasping, “That’s plastic too!” which is annoying and satisfying at the same time.