At the beginning of August I decided to take aim at my plastic consumption as my One Green Thing for the month. To help keep me honest, I also decided to keep track of my plastic by keeping it all in my garage. I started with a small wastebasket, then I graduated to two, and eventually it all ended up in a large black plastic bag. The reason that I kept having to increase my plastic waste storage capacity is that I produce more than I am willing to admit most of the time.
Now, the truth is that the plastic waste you see here does not represent my total plastic consumption for the month. I took a trip to New York at the beginning of August, and I did not bring all the plastic I consumed there home. There were several plastic containers from eating out, some candy wrappers because when I’m in the US I always buy sweets that aren’t available in Canada, and some plastic straws from restaurants. As well, I know that there are some plastic items that got thrown into the trash simply because I didn’t remember not to chuck them as I normally would. However, I would say that what you see in these images represents the majority of the plastic my kids and I consumed during August.
By the time the month was about half over, I was starting to feel discouraged. While I did the things I normally do to reduce my plastic consumption, like carry a reusable water bottle and reusable bags, and clean and store plastic bags that come into my house for reuse, I was still creating far more plastic than I would like. It felt as if the efforts I was making weren’t having any impact. In the midst of that, I had an epiphany – maybe I couldn’t completely give up plastic in one fell swoop, but I could target specific plastic items one at a time. Just as I had become accustomed to carrying a water bottle, I could become accustomed to other small changes, one by one.
I decided to start by making my own hummus. I grow my own garlic, so that’s plastic-free. I bought chick peas in BPA-free cans, and tahini, lemon juice and roasted red peppers in glass bottles and jars, in order to make it. I’m still perfecting my recipe, but it’s one less plastic container I’m creating every week, and I’m saving money while I’m at it. Is it a huge change? No. But over the course of the year I’m using 52 fewer plastic containers, and that’s something. Plus, I can build from here, and make other changes as I go.
I’m not sure if I would call my efforts at ditching plastic successful or not. I certainly consumed far more than I was hoping to. However, I learned something in the process, and took steps to make changes. In the end, I’d call that a win.
What steps do you take to reduce your plastic consumption? And do you have any great hummus recipes to share? I’m all ears!