Friday, November 26, 2010

How Are We Doing? A Six Months' Checkup

6 oz of plastic waste in November
As of November 26, 2010, six months into our plastic fast, Peter and I have produced a total of 13 lbs., 7 oz. of plastic waste.

By a reasonable estimate, that puts us at about 17% of the average rate of waste production for the United States, though we may be generating plastic waste at a rate of only 7% of the average, depending on which set of numbers you choose to use for the average amount of plastic waste per capita.

For instance, Beth Terry, of Fake Plastic Fish estimates that Americans produce between 85 and 128 pounds of plastic waste per person per year--based on EPA data for residential plastic use in 2008.

The University of Oregon's estimate is a bit higher: "Every American uses almost 200 pounds of plastic in a year--60 pounds of it for packaging." (Source: San Diego County Office of Education, cited in University of Oregon Campus Recycling page).

So how are we doing? Better than we could be, though not as well as we might like. Beth Terry, for instance, produced only 3.7 pounds of plastic waste in 2009.  It is certainly possible to be more rigorous in avoiding plastic waste than we have yet become.

But along the way to reducing our household waste, we've examined our emissions, looked at the need for sustainable agriculture, cut our food waste, begun composting, and have learned how to base our diet increasingly on whole, seasonal, and local foods.  We've done it while saving money and working full time, too.

I believe in small changes. Partly because of the way they grow.