How did the project go? The first week we filled an entire 13 gallon garbage bag full of plastic. Second week, a little over halfway full - and the third week it was a little less than 1/3 full. How did we reduce our plastic usage?
First of all, I try very hard to use my reusable fabric tote bags at the grocery store BUT I previously always used the plastic bags provided at the store for my produce. So the first thing I did was purchase some lightweight fabric cloth bags for my produce. Sure, it's kind of annoying because I never have enough bags so I ended up mixing all my produce in one bag - it takes longer because they have to sort them all out at the checkout...but honestly it's not that big of a deal.
I found that paper bags were provided for the most part when you're buying bulk items (pasta, rice, popcorn, beans, oatmeal) and if you're at Whole Foods they've got the tape dispenser where you write the bin number for reference - that keeps my kids busy for a few minutes at a time so I can look at the bins peacefully for a few moments (why is Whole Foods so unfair - they put a place in there to get a beer, but don't allow kids. So all that happens is the mom is grocery shopping by herself with the kids...while the dad is drinking a beer. Not fair!)
I know that my "Just Like Sew" plug was a little cheesy on the air, but they make a HUGE difference in our plastic baggie use. I really need a whole pile more of them because they do have to be washed pretty frequently...AND the kids will lose them. I guess we have to get over that they WILL lose some of them. But if you think of the big picture, if they lose two or three a year, it's still probably cheaper in the long run and better for the environment. But it really stings the first time it happens, so brace yourself.
You can't get away from a lot of the stuff that's wrapped in plastic, you just can't. I mean, you probably COULD find laundry detergent or toothpaste not in a plastic tub (or make your own), but I'm honestly not just there yet, so for me a lot of the project was just about being aware. I find if I'm in a rush and I need to dash into a store for something quick, I'm more likely to forget my tote bags and just throw my stuff in a plastic bag. We often just take plastic bags because people are giving them to us, so I found myself a little more alert to say 'no thanks' to the plastic bags mindlessly given at the store.
What was in our 'plastic' bag at the end of the third week? Meat packaging. Cheese and yogurt tubs. String cheese wrappers. Candy wrappers. A Clamato juice container. Zack bought some electronic stuff that came wrapped in plastic. I bought a dress on ebay that came fully encased in a dry cleaning plastic sheet plus the packing tape. Plastic windows on envelopes. Tabs from milk containers. Interior liners on beer caps.
We had fun doing the project and came away much more aware of our waste. I am more diligent about recycling what can be recycled, and I think I'm going to downgrade to a smaller weekly pick up garbage can as my recyclable throwaways are larger and my actual garbage tossed is less. I even threw out the 'let's get a compost bin' comment and Zack (surprisingly) agreed. When I analyzed my garbage being thrown away during the project, most were things that could be composted.
Okay, I'm stopping the plastic talk now.