First Month’s Reckoning

In the venerable tradition of plastic free bloggers, here’s a semi-complete* accounting of the plastic that made it’s way into our house this month. Sneaky stuff, I tell you.

The first thing I had to come to terms with was that saying we wouldn’t be buying ANY plastic was, as my skeptical friends pointed out from the get-go, impossible. At least, for beginners like us it was. Choosing glass jars still meant a plastic seal around the lid, and sometimes a plastic lid. Considering that we didn’t buy any foods in plastic bottles, tubs, bags, or wrappings, as well as canned goods, this seemed like a necessary compromise. Nevertheless, we managed to cut back a little more each week, learning to rely ever more on the wondrous bulk aisle (what will we discover there next?).

So what do we have here?

A toothbrush package. Yes, the toothbrush was also plastic, you won’t be surprised to hear. We actually have two new ones, but I haven’t opened the other. They came from the dentist and neither of us were able to say No Thank You to that little souvenir at our checkups. We did, however, decline the dental floss (we have plenty) and the cheerful plastic gift bag.

A plastic cork. Kind of a gamble, unless you know the wine from experience. We know one NOT to get, now.

A couple of little hook hanger thingies from who knows what. Socks?

Plastic wrapping from a glass supplement bottle. The man needs his glucosamine, but not the extra wrapping. I’m going to write the company.

Seals from glass bottles of ketchup, yogurt, almond butter, mayo. It bears mentioning that I bought the humungous jar of mayo to avoid this quandary if and when we ever run out. Since we’re still buying milk in returnable glass jugs (see below) I’ve started making yogurt from that. For a quarter of the price, I might add. Almond butter comes in bulk, so I’m not sure how this made it into the cart. And ketchup. Well, we’ll see about that.

A screw-top from…something.

A butterscotch wrapper. From the mailman.

Five milk caps, and slightly fewer rings from the milk jugs. Apparently I’m not as diligent as I thought I was about saving trash. It doesn’t come very automatically after a lifetime of tossing it.

I call this little pile Friends and Family. It became apparent on around January 2nd that we wouldn’t be able to say no to gifts of plastic. Dinner guests are so happy to bring the roasted piñon gelato or the salad, and we’re so happy to have them (the guests, that is), that there’s no point letting our experiment come between us. For the record, we didn’t ask for these things. Just a little company.

The windup chatterbox was a late Xmas gift to Cora from the neighbor girls. She loved it for the hour it lasted before breaking.

And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for. What was it that Kyce couldn’t resist? What was so irresistible and necessary that even this woman with convictions of steel (!) couldn’t say no to it? Was it the cheese crackers for her little girl? The pint of blueberries? Nooo. It was a puny bottle of citric acid. Totally premeditated and I remain unrepentant. With it we made goat milk mozzarella. What can I say? I was craving pizza. And that little bottle will make an awful lot of cheese. Look for it in our trash pile come October.

There you have it. Our plastic trash from this month. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Looks like an awful lot. Sadly, we don’t have a before picture showing our haul back in the days before we started cutting back. So you’ll have to believe me when I say this is quite an improvement.
Wish us luck for next month.

* Semi complete only because there are some things still in use, like the odd plastic bag from our CSA and a few lids. Also, astute readers will note that the styrofoam I posted about a while ago is nowhere to be seen. Apparently we couldn’t bear to keep that sad reminder around.

10 Replies to “First Month’s Reckoning”

  1. Maybe awareness isn’t such a good thing (for us people who tend to judge ourselves and our actions usually in a negative light). So I went to the co-op this morning to pick up a few things and was so proud to use my new muslin bag for some sunflower sprouts until I put everything on the conveyor belt and began to take inventory. Plastic – around the Sage sourdough bread, pre-sliced (I can’t cut those thin perfect slices), apples in a plastic produce bag (albeit saved and re-used), mascarpone in a plastic tub, mont. jack and swiss cheese wrapped in plastic plus the 2 little bags of dried turkish apricots – from the bulk section yet pre-bagged in plastic. So there you have it my purchases wrapped in plastic far outweighed my one little muslin bag full of sunflower sprouts :(. But hey, I’m trying!

  2. Yes, I think we should each save a month’s worth of plastic and see what it looks like. Seeing it all together is very powerful and looking through it in retrospect can also be a powerful tool for figuring out how to decrease the pile the next month. I’m gonna do it myself this next month (a short month albeit) as an experiment. I challenge others to do the same. Any takers?

  3. Oh, mama! That is NOT a lot of plastic for a month! You should check out our recycling bin and then the garb for what can’t be recycled… AND we’re fairly conscious. So, congrats to you! Looks to me like you were very, very successful. Again, an inspiration!

    Okay… maybe I will save my plastic garbage next month too. Might not be the ideal time to do so (with a baby coming next week), but I like the idea of “no excuses”!

    Much love,

  4. I’d say you did quite well Kyce! Sad isn’t it….it seems like everything is packaged in plastic. My boys are working on sewing some cloth bulk bags. Tom and I are thinking about doing CSA only this year. At the farmers market we just about HAVE to put things into plastic bags….sucks! But if we do CSA only I think I could sew up a bunch of cloth bags and have the members return them each week to be filled again. Plastic bags are definitely trying to be eliminated from this farm! Thanks for the inspiration Kyce. I hope you’re having a fun weekend.

  5. Hi there. Lovely blog! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Real mayo is really easy to make, did you know? Maybe you have some reason for preferring shop-bought.

    This is the way I make it – 6 ingredients: a small clove of garlic, half a teaspoonful of mustard (I buy black and yellow mustard seeds, put them in a jar with vinegar in the fridge, bash them a bit, it’s whole grain mustard), half a teaspoonful of salt, an egg at room temperature, 1.5 tablespoonfuls of vinegar, a cup or two of oil (half olive and half something lighter – sunflower or grapeseed or whatever works well for us.)

    Blend the egg, mustard, salt, garlic, vinegar.
    Dribble a tiny amount of oil into the blender – while it’s running if you can. Blend.
    Dribble another tiny amount in, blend.
    Repeat until you are crazy bored with the tiny amounts of oil you are adding; add in slightly larger amounts until all oil is added.

    Lasts about a week in a jar in the fridge.

  6. Came here via Farmama and am truly inspired by what you’re doing. Plastic is so sneaky and omnipresent, it never occurred to me to live without. In fact, my first thought was: but, cheese!
    I will keep coming back, drawing inspiration and ideas from this amazing choice you’ve made.

    1. Cheese was one of my first thought’s, too. Followed by about a million other things! We make some of our cheese from goat’s milk, but also splurge once a week or so on bulk cheese which is available from almost any grocery store deli. I bring my own container, and they give it to me wrapped in just a slip of parchment paper.

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