Goal accomplished: Only 20 gallons of plastic in 2019!!

Happy New Year!   I am happy to report I did it – I managed to get through the year using just 20 gallons of plastic!   What does 20 gallons of plastic look like?

Like this:

That’s IT.   One ENTIRE year of plastic fit into that little trash bin!  You can’t imagine how good that feels!  My kids and I learned SOOOO much in the process, too!

Where did it come from, you ask?  Let’s find out!

Biggest offenders to smallest:

1. Shipping supplies: 

2. Snack food: 

3. Miscellaneous clear packaging: 

4. Dining out refuse: 

5. Produce packaging:

6. Home supplies (tools, light bulbs, etc..):

7. Health supplies (contact lenses, etc.): 

8. Twine: 

Key learnings (numbering here is wonky… novice WP user… bear with me):

  1. My commitment to reduce plastic led to less trips to the garbage bin.  It would take me 2 weeks, in many cases, to fill my entire (small) kitchen waste can.
    2. It also led to more cooking.  Baking bread, making soups and other meals from scratch, which was a very good thing!
    3. Cheese is quite expensive when purchased from a deli.   I’m still looking for ways to purchase cheese more economically.
    4. Bulk is the way to go!  We ended up giving up a lot of our creature comforts, but survived by finding new bulk snacks we enjoyed or by making our treats from scratch, like these protein bars that replaced my beloved Zone bars.
    5. You’ll carry more containers around with you.  It gets a little clunky, but it’s worth it.  I’m determined to find a better way to organize my shopping supplies, which consist of a variety of jars, empty plastic containers, reusable produce and shopping bags.
  2. Helpful Shopping kit: the following items are tremendously helpful when shopping bulk to reduce the plastic in your life: rubber bands, twisty-ties, sharpies, small and large plastic bags (we’ve washed and reused our plastic bags for the past couple of years), small, medium and large jars.
    7. Dedicated product vessels.  Write the name of the product you’d like to store in your jars on the jar itself.  When you run out, simply take the jar to the bulk food store of your choice to refill. A wonderful way to remember what you need to buy!
    8. I feel lighter.  It feels so nice to significantly cut down the waste  we produce.   Less garbage to handle, using things again feels good.   Walking lighter on garbage day feels so much better.   Easier on my body, and my conscience.
  3. Giving up plastic led to some very cool activities with my kids, like baking our own bread in a Dutch oven or making a humongous pumpkin pie, from scratch, for Thanksgiving, and using a huge plastic pie container from Costco to serve it up.  I assure you I’d have not attempted that otherwise!   It challenged me to do things I wouldn’t normally do, and it felt really good to get out of my comfort zone.
    10. I’m learning to honor the seasons.  Giving up plastic means going without raspberries in the winter time.   This forced me to explore new desserts and enjoy whatever is in season.
  4. Both kids were NOT on board.  My oldest hated the decision to go plastic-free having a strong affinity towards Ruffles chips and Oreos.  These are my decisions and even though I feel strongly about them,  I wanted to honor my kids’ opinions too.   We compromised by having my kids use their own allowance to purchase anything encased or packaged in plastic that fit into the “want” category (like sugary snacks).  She complied, but complained much of the year… until last night.   Something is changing!  She told me how proud she and her sister were of the work I’m doing to raise awareness.   ✅Year made. ♥️
    11.  Berry picking is a new family tradition!  Continuing to enjoy my favorite green smoothie recipe throughout the year requires picking 182 cups of berries!  That’s a lot of blackberry and blueberry picking.  I thoroughly enjoyed the two occasions I spent harvesting berries with friends and family!

    12. Overall quality of life improved.  We eat better, produce less waste and the “slow life” has not only led me to spend more time with family and friends but has forced me out of my comfort zone.  Learning to do things in a different, sometimes challenging, more sustainable way has been good for me.  It’s forced me out of my rote “convenience stupor” and I like that.  I’m more aware and appreciative of the natural rhythms of life.I’ve been asked if,  after accomplishing this feat in 2019, I’d stop.  No way.  It feels too good to live this light.   ♥️

Leave a Reply