This week, my progression hasn’t been as strong as I intended. While I still made a 25% reduction in my paper consumption, I’ve used 40% more cardboard, used the same amount of plastic, I’ve used the same amount of tin cans, and I’ve also added one glass bottle.
Some of these items were either leftover from before I committed to this project, such as the tea box (which I have since only bought in bulk), two of my plastics, the hospital wristbands, were from the last update that I forgot to add, and my prescriptions come with excess packaging that I can’t avoid.
This project proved to be challenging in many regards, largely because of the extra money it takes to buy foods in bulk, or the time it takes to make things from scratch to avoid recyclables. However, I have learned many things and become more aware of my consumption habits.
I am still actively trying to reduce my recyclables but in order to reduce my consumption from the number it is right now, I believe that I would likely need to be more financially stable. So until then, I am still trying to make conscious decisions about when and how I purchase recyclables. For example, instead of buying 1L or 2L tetra packs of almond milk, I choose to buy a larger 4L plastic container. Tetra packs contain paperboard, aluminum, and polyethene, making it difficult to separate and reuse (Anaya 2018). Plastic is still environmentally degrading and can be difficult to reuse, however, I believe that since I am buying a larger amount, I will ultimately use less raw materials, which reduces my overall impact.
Additionally, while I, unfortunately, did not get the time to experiment with this during this project, I do hope to explore the option of dried beans. I have been deterred from trying this due to lack of time and poor planning. Dried beans require either a) an instant pot (which I cannot afford) or b) about six hours to rehydrate. I often do not plan my meals much before I cook them so trying to use dried beans has not been an option for me yet. However, to help reduce my can recyclables in the future, I am going to practice meal prepping and planning ahead so I can soak dried beans and have them prepared for when I cook.
Finally, while I have not met all the goals I set out for at the beginning and during this project, it has still forced me to reduce my recyclable impact and look critically at my consumption habits. I hope to continue to reduce my impact and find new, creative ways to reuse the recyclables I do produce. Overall, this has been a very great experience for me.
Anaya, L. (2018). The Tetra Pak Versus Plastic & Glass Containers. Retrieved from https://draftingutopia.com/2018/04/19/the-tetra-pak-versus-plastic-glass-containers/