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Reducing your Plastic Footprint

Have you ever wondered how much plastic you use in a day? A week? A month? I have always been pretty conscious of how much plastic I use and buy on a daily basis, but I was curious to see if there was a way that I could further reduce my plastic consumption.

This is when I decided to take on the plastic-free challenge over at My Plastic-free Lifeoh and checkout my previous post prior to starting the challenge. During the plastic free challenge, you collect all the plastic you use in one week and at the end of that week, you consider what changes you can make to reduce your plastic consumption. Easy peasy, no?

After seven days, we collected 31 pieces of plastic. Here is what we accumulated:

Non-recyclable plastics:

  • 1 deodorant (husband)
  • 1 cling wrap from cheese (husband)
  • 2 plastic things from milk (husband)
  • 3 mystery pieces of plastic
  • 4 plastic things from a shirt my husband bought (husband)
  • 1 bags from lemons (me)
  • 1 bunch of plastic wrap from bananas-I do not put my bananas in a plastic bag-does that seem like something Good Girl Gone Green would do? They come already wrapped in plastic to identify they are organic. (me/husband)

Recyclable plastics:

  • 1 Coke bottle (husband)
  • 2 milk bottles (husband)
  • 2 Milk caps-I send them to a company that makes caps into door mats…cool, eh? (husband)
  • 2 meats bags (husband)
  • 1 packaging bag (husband)
  • 3 mystery caps (me/husband)
  • 1 Dr.Bronners soap bottle (me/husband)
  • 1 Dr.Bronners cap (me./husband)
  • 1 cashew bag (me/husband)
  • 1 raison bag (me/husband)
  • 1 cacao bag (me)
  • 1 baggie (me)
  • 1 bag flax seeds (me)

What items could we easily replace with plastic-free alternatives?

  • Lemons- do not purchase prepackaged, which is not always easy
  • Cashew, raison, and flax seed bags can all be replaced with purchasing in bulk and bringing my own organic produce bags.
  • Dr.Bronner soap (cap) can be purchased in bulk. Therefore, I can refill my preexisting containers or buy a glass one.
  • 3 mystery caps and 3 mystery plastic pieces– seeing as we don’t know what they are, should be easy to reduce, no?

What items would we be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?

  • Lemon bag– who needs lemons, right?
  • Cacao– I will try *sad face* But you know the bag can be recycled; it’s a #4 plastic.
  • Coke– we seriously do not need that junk.
  • Baggie– I bought a snack at the farmers market in a little bag. I will not being doing that again unless I have a small container to put it in myself.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?

  • Milk– my husband loves his milk and milk only comes packaged two ways: plastic container, or cardboard container that is sealed in plastic on the inside. I am looking for a glass option, but it is not looking too promising. So, the way we look at it, it is better to buy milk in the plastic container because at least it can be recycled, where the other container can not be recycled at most recycling facilities.
  • Plastic caps– comes with the milk unfortunately.
  • Deodorant– have you ever seen a plastic-free alternative? I haven’t, but it won’t stop me from looking! I have thought of making our own deodorant though my husband is not a fan of the idea.
  • Banana– I go bananas for bananas! I just love them so. It is one of the only fruit and veggies we don’t buy local! Can’t a girl live a little on the edge sometimes? I am going to look for bananas without the plastic and reduce how many bananas we buy a week.
  • Meat bags– My husband buys his meat from the local farmer’s market and right now the only option for meat packaging is small plastic bags. I am not sure if there are any farmers that do not use plastic bags. Hopefully, when we move to Texas in October,  we will find an alternative….I am not too optimistic though.
  • Cheese– My husband does not eat much cheese, but when he does the cheese is usually wrapped in plastic. I have heard that some famers will cut the cheese and put it in a reusable bag. I am going to look into that.

What one plastic item are we willing to give up or replace with a plastic-free alternative this week?

  • Lemons
  • Coke
  • Nuts, raisons and flax seeds
  • Cacao

What lifestyle changes might be necessary to reduce our plastic consumption?

Ummm, might want to ask my husband. He loves his dairy and that seems to be the biggest culprit!

I think we have to focus on buying in bulk, so we can use our reusable produce bags, and we need to look for plastic alternatives as much as possible.

Whoever participated in the plastic-free challenge last week, let me know your results. If you are interested in the challenge checkout my plastic-free life. When you have completed the challenge, please share your results with me.

We should all try and minimize our plastic footprint! Remember last week when I wrote about the 5 gyresthe plastic garbage patches? Well, to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean, we should reevaluate our plastic consumption as a society!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Savvy says

    Does your local grocery store have milk in glass containers? We can still purchase milk that way, and then each week we take the jug back and exchange for a new one. I confess that I regularly buy things because of what they are packaged in. Jelly jars, spaghetti sauce every container has a reuse in the house. If I do buy plastic like bowls I make sure I can reuse them. I’ve got no shame. I love bananas also, but I buy them without the bag. Just pluck up the bunch and put them in the cart. Coke bottles were recycled into candle holders here, so at least half the bottle was reused. Think outside the box, we can help!

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      My grocery store does not have organic or local milk in glass containers….I wish! And for the bananas I do not put them in a plastic bag, organic bananas have a plastic wrap around them already that say organic on them. I have zero shame either, I bring my own glass containers to restaurants incase I have left overs, I bring my lemons and unused food home to compost and the list continues. I do not but much packages food and rarely processed foods. WHen i buy things i buy in glass. What I learned form this challenge is when it comes to food, I don’t want my food touching plastic. Thanks for info!

  2. Teawithfrodo says

    You forgot another alternative, reusing and re purposing things.
    You can use milk jugs for planter and water bottles.

    Also most grocery stores will recycle your plastic bags for you. Even the meat ones as long as they are rinsed out and clean.

    We buy our bananas by the bunch and have number used plastic for them. If you’re so worried about using those little plastic bags wash them at home and reuse them. They hold up really well and you can bring a bunch of those with you to the store each time so you can still get the things you need but you aren’t making any more waste. When they start to get holes just take them to the store and recycle them.

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      Yes, another alternative is reusing and re purposing things. I have written posts on reusing items instead of recycling them. However, the point of this post and the plastic challenge, is reducing our plastic footprint. Please read my previous post on what plastic is made of and what the environmental impact is of producing and using plastic. Yes, grocery stores recycle your plastic bags, but not using plastic bags at all is a much better alternative then recycling them. No carbon footprint if you don’t; use them at all. For the bananas, I am not talking about putting them in plastic bag, I mean the actual bunch of bananas are wrapped in plastic, well at least the organic bananas are. I do not use plastic produce bags or plastic grocery bags at all, I have reusable organic produce bags and cloth grocery bags. Plastic is toxic, it has been know to leach into our foods and avoiding it is a much better alternative all together. Feel free to read up on the plastic challenge.

  3. Jill says

    What an interesting challenge and post.
    When I was little – our milk was delivered to our doorstep in glass bottles – not all progress is good!
    Plastic is one of the hardest things to eliminate from your weekly waste, it’s so prolific and the alternatives aren’t always feasible!
    I do try – but know I still use far too much plastic!
    Thanks for making us think!

    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      Thanks Jill. I remember when I was little my neighbors use to get their milk delivered in lass jugs, I wish people still did that! It is hard to try and remove plastic, but it is a challenge I am up for! 🙂

  4. HugKissNose.com says

    Wow, what a great post! I think I’m going to have to try this sometime. You really don’t realize how much plastic you use until you collect them and take a picture like this. – Janice

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