Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge, Part One

Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish has issued a challenge: to keep track of plastic trash for one week.

A few notes:
1. Our trash pickup is mid-week. That’s why I’m doing this in two parts.
2. I am only including plastic that I am throwing away or recycling. I have plastic reusable containers that I’m not including, because I’m still using them. (No, I do not heat food in them.)
3. In accordance with the instructions, this is the trash that I generated and does not include trash generated solely by my husband.
4. I live in Los Angeles, where a huge variety of plastic is recycled.

And now, on to the reporting of the challenge, beginning with a lovely photo.

Plastic Trash Challenge 1

So what are we looking at here? Read on:

1) Week # 1, first half
2) Name: Kathy
3) Items:
• small juice bottle – #1
• yogurt container and lid- #5
• 2 wrappers from flowers
• plastic wrap
• lid liner from yogurt
• lid liner from ice cream
• lid liner from container of cheese
• 3 sandwich bags
• gallon Ziploc bag
• clamshell from takeout
• coffee cup lid
• bag inside box of cookies
• 5 grocery bags, various sizes
4) List of Non-recyclable Items
• cheese packaging
• lid from juice bottle
• berry basket
• fork
• hot dog packaging
• 13-gallon trash bag
5) Total number of items: 20
6) Total weight of plastic stash (if you are able to do this): unknown
7) Analysis. Answer the following questions as best as you can.

• What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
Grocery bags

• What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
Boxed cookies

• How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
Nearly everything, although in some cases it would take quite a lot of time to prepare—making my own cranberry juice, for example.

• What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
None of them are truly essential.

• What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
Eating fewer dairy products

• What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
Taking reusable bags/containers to the farmers’ market

• What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Honestly, I was expecting more plastic. It’s not that I think this is a small amount; it’s just less than I would have thought I would use in half a week.

8) Personal – Los Angeles, female, married, work full time away from home, no children (and what is up with that emoticon?)

Frankly, I think the real trick is going to be collecting the plastic for the remainder of the week. Here’s hoping I make it through Part Two.


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