Sunday, May 31, 2009

ONE YEAR OF THE PLASTIC DIET!

So here we are, Kerry and I decided to start reducing and tracking our plastic consumption (trials, tribulations and discoveries) a year ago tomorrow! Throughout the year I have been reducing my plastic consumption as much as possible with the goal of not using more than one piece of disposal plastic a day! Along the way I have been holding on to all the plastic I have consumed/wasted, inherited and been given. So, here is what I ended up with after being very conscious of my plastic related consumption for one year. I have counted it all up and I have 446 different pieces of plastic. That is more than one piece a day on aggregate :(. It comes out to be 1.2 pieces a day. Not bad, but not exactly what I was shooting for. Also, I think it is fair to say I have not been able to hold on to every last piece of plastic waste I have created this year so my estimate is that that my actual consumption is somewhere between 5-10% more than 446 pieces (+ 23-25 more pieces). Food related plastic accounted for a whopping 45% of my plastic waste! But I’m not that surprised about the food related plastic waste really. It has been the hardest to reduce on a daily basis. Not counted in my total is any disposable plastic that I owned prior to June 1, 2008, even if I consumed it in the last year. This is tally is of the disposable plastic (even if it is recyclable) that came in and went out of my life in one year’s time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be if I wasn’t consciously trying to reduce! As I looked through everything today, there were things that I thought "oops", "was not worth it" and "well worth it!" about, but I'll spare you my commentary below :)
Here is how I have broken down and categorized my plastic consumption...

Food related
Plastic caps from glass milk bottles-28
Individual wrappers for bags of tea-20
Cheese wrappers-18
Junk food wrappers (i.e chips, snack packs, protein bars)-15
Little hard candy wrappers (i.e., mints, etc.)-10
Candy wrappers-8
Styrofoam of some food related container type-8
Snack size candy wrappers-6
Bags of some unknown kind-6
Bags cereal comes in-6
Ice-cream sandwich wrappers-5
Plastic packaging from meat-5
Cookie related packaging-4
Yogurt containers-4
Frosting containers-2
Bags of turbinado raw sugar-2
Bags of local pistachios-2
Clear plastic clam shell for take-away food-2
Raw butter wrappers-2
6-pack ring-1
Tofu container-1
Completely unidentifiable/miscellaneous-5

All the rest
Completely miscellaneous clear thin plastic wrapping from products unknown-31
Hard formed plastic that products come in (i.e., LED light bulbs, etc.)-25
Plastic that shrink wraps around a bottle and it’s cap (i.e. on a bottle of salad dressing)-24
Miscellaneous plastic wrappers/bags from buying nails and other construction related things-21
Straws-20
Bags used in packaging of product (i.e. that say 'this is not a toy' on them)-19
Miscellaneous cellophane-18
Long thin plastic sleeves (I have no idea what they were from probably Ikea furniture related)-17
Little plastic T-shaped things that clip the price tag to clothing-13
Toiletry related wrappers/packaging (i.e. toilet paper wrapper, medicine)-13
Mailing envelops-12
Plastic wrap that some magazines/journals come in-12
Plastic sleeves some cards come in-9
Plastic packaging from buying curtains/curtain rods (for 5 windows)-9
Bamboo knitting needle plastic sleeves-6
Miscellaneous hard plastic bits/clips-6
Spoons-4
Little hangers (maybe related to buying curtains?)-4
Itty-bitty ziploc bags that extra buttons come in on clothes-4
Bubble wrap-3
Printer cartridge related plastic (not the actual cartridge)-3
Plastic sleeves flowers come in-3
Membership cards-2
Oil change sticker for car windshield-2
Plastic that wrapped 3 rolls of paper towels together-1
Plastic that wrapped 4 sponges together-1
Highlighter pen-1
Mechanical pencil-1
Bracelet to enter Go Green Expo-1
Instant heat compress-1
Plastic bag that my new mattress came in-1

Phew!

So, the next question is… Is it over? And the answer is of course NO. The best part of this year has been rubbing of my plastic reductionist lifestyle on friends and strangers! The plastic diet continues, once a plastic reductionist, always a plastic reductionist! How about the blog? The beauty of cyberspace is that the blog will always exist :). I will continue to post now and then as ecological, plastic reducing and plastic abusing things come on to my radar. Kerry and I started out with the hope of posting once a day and that of course dwindled over time. I have had the goal of posting once a week for the last few months and that may dwindle now too, but the plastic diet is never over!

Tomorrow I’ll post the pictures cataloging my year’s worth of plastic listed above!

Now the big question is...what to do with all these pieces of plastic? Recycle what can be recycled of course, but what to do with the rest... Anything bag-like I will reuses as a bag and anything bubble wrap or packaging related I will reuse for packaging. It is all the other stuff that is now (and always was) just plastic waste!

8 comments:

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Hi. Congratulations on your one year anniversary! Would you like to cross post this at Fake Plastic Fish? A few weeks ago, I threw out a challenge for FPF readers to collect and tally their own plastic waste for one week or more. Tonight, I created a sub-blog to collect the tallies as they come in. It's here:

http://www.showyourplastic.fakeplasticfish.comLet me know if you would like to post there and I'll send you a Blogger Invite. Many people have agreed to do it, but as I write this, only two posts are up (since I just created the blog today.)

It would be great to see your year's worth on the blog as well as photo.

Participe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pierre said...

Hi Erin and Kerry
Congratulations for your one year anniversary!!
I posted a comment yesterday related to the article "recycle and recover",hope you had it (new in the blogospshere actually). If you like to give me and answer,i just realize that you don't have my mail adress. Then here it is: neighbour.peter@gmail.com
All the best
Pierre

plasticfreela said...

Beth, I'd love to cross post send me the Blogger Invite! Thanx for the congratulations.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Awesome. What email address would you like me to send it to? You can contact me directly at beth[at]fakeplasticfish[dot]com.

Rae said...

Congratulations! I love the date - it is our one year anniversary tomorrow of reducing our household waste.

I think 1.2 piece per day is fantastic; we have much more than that. I've really enjoyed reading about your adventures in plastic-free land and would love to feature you on our site. (http://myzerowaste.com)

Keep up the fab work!

JMcK said...

Congrats! As one of the "friends and strangers" (more a friend, I hope, though it's been a long time!) that you influenced, I must say that I am very glad you two got into this and also glad that you got me into this! Great work!

mikesac said...

We must all draw inspiration from your act and start reacting ourselves.We have to say no to plastic however hard it is...when the number saying no is great then the companies would rethink about their packaging standards.
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