Here is our plastic waste from September 2018. (Sorry, its halfway through October and I’m just now writing this!)
If you’d rather watch than read, here is a quick video I made looking at our trash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IJX1E6rlIQ&t=0s&index=6&list=PLZg0JwSmxeZoWwK6dPfWBwzCRcJkYYCw_
I include our recyclable and non-recyclable trash because plastic is only ever “downcycled,” meaning its turned into one or maybe two other items before it is thrown away–so it ultimately ends up in a landfill. Not only that, but new plastic is needed to make that plastic cap/bottle/ect–so if I am buying something in plastic I am creating the need for more plastic to be produced. The production of plastic has all kinds of harms to both the environment and the people in the manufacturing process. Not to mention the end product is full of chemicals not tested for human safety. All this together has made us try to avoid plastic all together. I’m not saying we have totally achieved this (as the picture above indicates!), but we are trying :). Most of our focus has been on avoiding “repeated plastics,” meaning items we buy on a regular basis, like food packaging.
In the picture above, there are still things left from our pre-zero-waste days. I am amazed at the amount of shaving cream we had! And there is still one more bottle to finish! After it is gone, we will use a shampoo/shave/wash bar from Good Fortune Soap. There is some battery packaging from our pre-zero-waste days too. I did buy a set of rechargeable batteries (which were wrapped in plastic!), but we are also assessing our use of batteries in general. The first “R” is to Reduce what you need. We have found we can do with fewer clocks and noise-making kids toys that require batteries. As for the chocolate chip bag, I’m not sure how this is possible, but it was from our zero-waste days–which means the chocolate chips were almost a year old. It was in the back of our refrigerator and yes, I did eat the chocolate chips!
The markers were a gift from someone who didn’t know we are trying to reduce our trash, or maybe didn’t think through what would happen to them after they dried out. I have to just not sweat it when this happens. We took good care of the markers and used them to their fullest, and now many of them have dried out. For our kid’s art, we like to use crayons, colored pencils without a plastic color coating on the pencil, or make our own natural colored paints with things like beet juice.
The castle-shaped clear plastic on the bottom left of our trash picture is from a bracelet-making bead set I bought at a garage sale. The beads were made out of plastic too. I feel a bit conflicted about buying second hand plastic toys. It is much better than buying them new. Creating a second hand market certainly keeps stuff out of the landfill for a little while. But on the other hand, it is still plastic and will end up in the landfill after we are done with it. I think making clay beads or using seeds would be an awesome way for my 4 year old to make bracelets, but that would have been quite a bit more work. In the end, I have to remind myself often that making better choices is still good, even if it it’s not perfect.
What about you? Are there any choices that are “better” that you would like to start making, even if they aren’t perfect?