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Kathryn McGrath’s Blog

Counting My Plastic Waste: Week 3

Kathryn McGrath

Posted July 17, 2009

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Here are the results of my second week cataloging and saving all my plastic waste. Despite the long list, it's a big improvement over last week's results. You can see other people's trash on the Fake Plastic Fish Challenge site.

week 3 plastic trash

2 newspaper bags
1 plastic bag from loaf of french bread
1 plastic packaging from crackers
1 Ziploc
1 plastic bag of walnuts
plastic wrap from cheese
1 Soyjoy wrapper
1 fruit leather wrapper
1 Cliff bar wrapper
1 plastic case for razors
1 plastic spout, cap and pull tab from milk carton

My waste includes 5 plastic bags this week, down from a high of 19 the first week and 6 the second. The Cliff bar and fruit leather were purchased before the start of the challenge (the Soyjoy mango bar was a free sample and not very good). The most obvious 'oops' is the plastic bag for the French bread I bought at the farmer's market. As I walked away, I almost slapped my forehead when I realized I'd grabbed a load wrapped in plastic.

Nine of my 12 items of plastic trash are from food packaging. I could have easily avoided the bread bag, the Ziploc and the snack foods (5 items). The others are a little more difficult -- I don't know of a nearby place to buy bulk nuts, and it seems very difficult to buy cheese or crackers without plastic.

After three weeks I've managed to reduce my plastic significantly and it's becoming much more natural to just walk away from unnecessary plastic packaging when I know I can find an alternative. But have I managed to permanently change my shopping habits in three weeks?

I'm going to take a couple weeks off from tallying my plastic waste and see what happens. Will my vigilance drop when I don’t have to report it online? We'll see!

(It took me a couple weeks to get around to posting this so I'll soon have an answer posted here.)

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Comments (Add yours)

Sarah Fiona PhillipsJul 18 2009 09:34 PM

I work really hard to avoid plastic and to recycle it. I live in a neighborhood where, for all sorts of socioecomonic, cultural and educational reasons, no one gives a care about the planet, the environment, etc. It's sad and makes me angry. I realize that reducing, recycling has to enter our country's (and the world) dialogue, conciousness, etc. It has to become a way of life for all. Your efforts make me feel not so alone. Sarah Fiona

Jetta AntonakosSep 23 2009 10:22 AM

Thank you for tracking your plastic consumption. I enjoyed feeling like someone else is bothered about all of this. Your effort inspires me to take photos so I can document beach litter (technically referred to as "marine debris") that I collect on my beach walks. Most of it is plastic that is carelessly left behind - bottles, bags, wrappers, cups, straws, toys, and rope. If people really understood the scale and impact of their neglectfulness, they would be more careful. Unfortunately, each day the beach washes up evidence that we can do better. Plastic has its benefits and more and more of it can be recycled. That said, we can consciously minimize our consumption to not be wasteful and reuse/recycle more. Thanks for the friendly prod.

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