For two weeks recently I decided to save all the plastic waste that my family generated, whether it was bound for the trash or the recycling bin. It was an experiment for me, really, to see how much plastic actually passes through my hands. I do really try to avoid plastic where I can, because I know that it can persist in the environment more or less forever. And even recycling isn’t a perfect solution, since plastic degrades with re-use and overseas recycling plants are unsafe.
During my two weeks of plastic saving I didn’t deliberately avoid plastic, but I also didn’t deliberately go out and buy more. I wanted to give a fair representation of a typical two week period in our home. However, when I see how much plastic I actually used, and how little of it is recyclable, I start coming up with excuses. I really want to say this isn’t a typical two week period, and explain why. I want to believe that this must be an anomaly.
Honestly, though, I’m sure that something ‘out of the ordinary’ happens almost every couple of weeks, so I will more or less always have an excuse if I want it. Which means that this isn’t an anomaly, it’s reality. So, here it is, no excuses or justifications. Two weeks of plastic at my house.
All of the plastic.
The recyclable plastic.
Mail-order non-recyclable plastic.
Fast food non-recyclable plastic.
Kid non-recyclable plastic (that bag was used to hold dirty diapers, it’s so not getting re-used).
Food non-recyclable plastic.
I could definitely reduce my food-related plastic. After seeing this I dug out the re-usable produce bags I haven’t been using . I also won some more re-usable produce bags in a giveaway recently so I am set on that front. By buying more things in bulk I can also cut down on plastic waste. However, I’m not sure there are good ways to eliminate everything here, like pill packs or the plastic wrap from cheese. Also, the tops of glass milk bottles are already a compromise.
No matter what, this experiment was a wake-up call for me, and I certainly hope to reduce the plastic I produce substantially. I might repeat this in 6 months or so, so we can all see how well I’m doing in my efforts to reduce plastic waste.