Plastic waste journal

Plastic Waste Journal #4

This 2 week stretch included Thanksgiving! We hosted both sides of our families at one big feast! We were in charge of the appetizers and I was excited to find waste-free options for everything.

For cheese, I bought a whole cheese round from Whole Foods that had its own “crust” and wasn’t wrapped in plastic. It was a great time to buy a whole 2-3 pound round because there were lots of people to eat it.

I ended up making my own crackers, which is actually quite fun. As long as you don’t get too obsessed about them being perfectly evenly thin or uniformly shaped :). I followed this recipe. Mine didn’t have any fancy seed toppings, just a little sprinkle of salt, and they tasted great!

Both EarthFare and Whole Foods have an olive bar where you can fill a small dish of olives, which I did when I was doing my normal weekly shopping. I had made my own hummus from dried garbanzo beans a week before. The day of Thanksgiving I cut up a bunch of veggies. I bought some banana chips from the bulk bin, but forgot to put them out on the table. Oh well, they make a great snack…

It was all super easy! The crackers were the only thing that took a little effort, and that was an hour tops (and much of that hour was baking them, during which time I did all the dishes so our house would be clean for hosting!).

For decorating the house, my 3 year old and I went on a nature walk through our neighborhood and collected pinecones, bark, acorns, and leaves to use for decorations with some candles. We also bought some small pie pumpkins and beautiful edible squash. We had a great time doing it together.

And now on to analyzing our waste from the past 2 weeks:

Here is our not-recyclable waste:


I had accidentally bought double amounts of toilet paper from Amazon Prime, so there will be quite a bit of that in the future. But after it is gone, it is really inexpensive to get rolls that are wrapped in recyclable paper (and the toilet paper is made from recycled paper too!) on Amazon.

One category that I had not been including before was receipts. Did you know that they are coated with BPA plastic?!?! This makes them completely not recyclable In fact, BPA is found in some recycled paper and it is thought that this is largely due to people putting their receipts in the recycle bin.

Read this article by Consumer Reports for more info on BPA and receipts, but basically the BPA in receipt paper absorbs through the skin on your hands easily. There are a multitude of research papers showing BPA is harmful to human health (including links to breast cancer and reproductive problems) and it is only banned in a few items, such as baby bottles. “BPA free” receipt paper contains BPS, which is not well studied and also absorbs easily through the skin. So if you are ever asked if you want your receipt, say no! At Whole Foods this means they won’t even print it, which is a score for the earth as well.

One thing I hope you won’t see again on this blog is the packets to make saline for the Neti Pot. Why not just use 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda? That’s all the packets have in them anyway! (And if you aren’t using the Neti Pot every time you or your kids get a cold, you are missing out!)

And for the recyclable:


Any ideas for replacements for Damp Rid? It was in our hallway closet that gets damp in the summer. We have an actual dehumidifier now, so maybe we don’t even need it anymore. Putting a bowl of rice out probably would help if needed for a place like a closet.

Also pictured are all of Zach’s business cards. They aren’t actually plastic (I think…), but are included to help reduce waste in general. He chose to get rid of them because no one really uses them anyway. So, unless you are a sales person who makes lots of in-person cold calls, say no to business cards. If it isn’t a cold-call, you already gave the person your contact info to set up the meeting, so they don’t need your card.

And one final item that I don’t know how to classify:


This umbrella has outlived its usefulness. It was an extra, so no need to replace it. When we do need a new one one day, we will probably look for a very high quality one that won’t break easily.

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