13 May 2009

Challenge: Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash!

Over on Fake Plastic Fish, Beth has thrown down the challenge gauntlet and is urging us to take part! Go on over and sign up for the challenge! It should be interesting to see how much plastic you accumulate in a week. Her rules are below (clipped directly from her site, thanks Beth!)

Post a note on my blog letting me know you're doing it, and any links to your blog. Then go to Fake Plastic Fish (at the link shown above) and do the same! Thanks!


1) Collect all of your own plastic waste for a minimum of one week. (Longer is okay, too, but try to separate out the weeks' collections.) What qualifies as yours? Anything that benefits you. So, if your housemate or significant other brings home a tub of yogurt that you both share, the tub goes in your tally. But if you hate yogurt, never touch the stuff, and wouldn't have bought it for yourself in a million years, it's not your responsibility. What about stuff for your kids? I'll leave that up to you. Whatever you decide, just be consistent about collecting it. Personally, I'd be very interested to see how much plastic waste is generated by babies, since I don't have children myself.

2) Try to live the way you normally would. It doesn't help to artificially reduce your plastic consumption for the sake of a one-week tally if you will go back to living with more plastic afterward. Think of this exercise as a scientific experiment. Nothing more.

3) At the end of the week, take a photo of your stash and list out the items. You might also want to include details about what things are recyclable in your community or not.

4) Guilt is not encouraged. Nor are comparisons with other people whom you perceive to be doing "worse" or "better" than you in terms of plastic waste. This exercise is for purely educational purposes. Guilt doesn't help.

5) After tallying your plastic waste, try answering the following questions:
  • What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?

  • What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn't exist?

  • How many of these items are from "convenience" foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?

  • What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?

  • What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?

  • What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

  • What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
6) Guilt is unnecessary.

7) Send your photo, tally, and answers to questions to beth[at]fakeplasticfish[dot]com along with as much personal info as you feel comfortable sharing: Geographical location, gender, housemate/relationship status, work status (at home or away from home), children living with you, etc. These factors might influence the amount of plastic waste you generate and would be interesting to know, but are completely up to you of course.

8) If you have your own blog, feel free to post your tally, etc. there as well. And let me know the URL so I can link to you.

9) There is no time limit for doing this exercise. I would love to publish a series of "Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash" posts over several weeks or even months, depending on the response.

10) Guilt will only get in the way of understanding. It's not needed for this challenge.

11) Seriously.

Who's in?"

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