This week I am taking some time to assess the reality of the carbon footprint my family is leaving on our environment. I am curious to see what a week in our household does to our landfills. Mind you, it may not result in any behavior change, but I think it is important to be open to being aware.
So here are some of the realities of day one, in photos:
My morning started with cereal today – the last of the box means it will be thrown away…. at least a paper box is biodegradable, right? As for the plastic bag inside used to keep the cereal fresh? I suppose that is my first environmental fail of the day.
Coffee made with bottled water (the tap water tastes really bad where I live) is our eco-disaster #2 for the day. Today there were 2 of these thrown away.
This package was not yet thrown away, but the rice crackers, in a plastic tray within a plastic bag were not eco-friendly at all.
3 smaller, personal size water bottles were used and discarded by family members today (we do have a place right outside our apartment for recycling bottles, so they are the only thing we regularly recycle due to convenience and ease).
Mid-morning chocolates found their way into our home…… the bag is going to the landfill…….
… as are the individual wrappers.
2 of these 1.5 liter bottles were consumed in our home today (again, recycled near our home).
This was a late afternoon snack – healthier than regular potato chips for us humans, but the same resulting waste.
These are girls in our house, these are used like mad certain times of the month, and as it so happens it coincides with this blog week – I don’t need to say more.
I made two identical lunches – I won’t show the photo twice – one for each daughter – for tomorrow. So, two drinkable yogurts, two eatable ones, a plastic spoon, and a sandwich in a plastic bag per girl (the plastic sandwich bag claims to be biodegradable – does that bring me redemption for the rest???)
And, of course, a trash bag to carry it all out in so that we can add to the landfills around us…..
Today, 256 days ’til 40, I begin to look at a week of my family’s carbon footprint. Today I think we may have failed, but, sadly, I think this will be one of the better days this week – we will see.
June 10, 2012 at 00:05
recycling is so hard to do when the stores sell everything triple packed
June 10, 2012 at 00:07
June 10, 2012 at 00:08
June 10, 2012 at 00:18
so true, Im sure if the public was happy to have every thing in Brown paper with out all the fancy wrapping, layer after layer, we would be better off. But companies are competing with each other to sell their products. Mind you if we only ate fresh fruit and veg with fresh meats we would have a lot less waste, oh and made our bread,biscuits etc, but time is an issue. Its a no win situation hey.
June 10, 2012 at 13:10
It is so true! Companies do have ridiculous packaging. Yes, you are so correct, if we ate more fresh foods we would be better off on so many levels! And yes, the big issue here is time, which is a commodity, isn’t it?
June 10, 2012 at 00:25
Ooh, the plastic spoon – now that is bad! How come you don’t use ordinary cutlery? I can’t stand plastic cutlery. It’s really bad for the environment and it’s really bad for when you’re trying to eat your food! 😉
Don’t you have recycling where you are? We have facilities where we are. We live in a flat so the bins are communal. One recent change that I haven’t been so keen on is our new bins. Previously we had separate bins: glass, certain plastics, paper and card, cans. Now we have two: glass and everything else. Surely this is our community moving in the wrong direction?
I am very guilty of drinking lots of tea and I believe it takes a lot of energy to boil the kettle. That’s not good. However, at work, I always drink water. Unfortunately it’s now coming from those large bottles because the water system at work isn’t great. Tap water comes out orange a lot of the time. 😦 So it’s bad that I use the water, although it is Scottish water so that’s a plus and I fill a 2 litre plastic bottle which I’ve had for ages. I just use it to fill up and empty and so on, washing when I need to (er, which isn’t often. I just added that so you wouldn’t think I was grotty! 😉 ) I also walk to work, I don’t have a car and only live a mile away from work. Many of my colleagues live a lot closer and always bring their cars, even taking them home and back at lunchtime!
I think it’s great that you’re being self aware, I hope you’ll be able to make a positive change. More people should try. Sorry for the gigantic comment – man, if these things really affected our carbon footprint, I’d be screwed! 😉
June 10, 2012 at 13:08
The plastic spoon is a funny/ sad reality – think sending lunches to school with kids! The metal spoons end up in the trash as easily as the plastic ones! The kids do not remember to not throw them away – thus the switch to the non-eco-friendly plastic. Yes, I HATE eating with the flimsy plastic utensils! We do have recycling where we are, but it is not very convenient – you have to pile everything into your car and drive to locations throughout the city in order to drop things off. We manage to recycle plastic bottles because the bins are so close to our home! I also love to drink tea (mostly at work) – and yes, I am boiling that kettle multiple times a day! We also drive to work/ school, but at least we are carpooling with one car and that makes things a bit better…
AHHHH, we are not very responsible!
June 10, 2012 at 16:28
It’s so hard to try and do everything in a responsible manner and I totally get where you coming from with the plastic cutlery. It must be hard to keep track of it, lol!
It’s not your fault if your recycle points are far away. You’d think by now everywhere would be fitted out with plentiful/easily accessible recycle points. It sounds like you’re doing your bit as best you can. You’re going in the right direction. I’ll need to think about what I could do differently…
June 10, 2012 at 19:38
me too!!! 🙂
June 10, 2012 at 00:53
Great idea to track it. I may have to try it just to be more aware of what I am doing. Just curious: how far away does your bottled water come from?
June 10, 2012 at 13:03
Great question re: the bottled water! I think most of it comes from within 200 miles…. but will have to research!
June 10, 2012 at 01:35
When you analyse in this way, it is quite shocking to see what waste we can produce, isn’t it?
June 10, 2012 at 13:02
It is a bit scary!
June 10, 2012 at 02:01
We’re lucky that we have 3 bins, to cater for our disposal of rubbish, green for all biodegradable,garden greens, red for anything of household non-degradable,yellow for paper,tins & plastic. We do our own wonderful compost of fruit & veggies for the garden. We all should be more aware of our environment! Only need to think of how many plastic shopping bags get used each day, it’s a regular thing now that the ‘nice’ bags go in the boot after each shop at our house. One routine that makes the difference! Have a great Sunday!
June 10, 2012 at 13:02
I wish we had a place to compost, as we have wonderful flowers that would love it, but in an apartment the room is limited……… We do re-use our market bags as rubbish bags, so at least they are not completely wasted…. but we also have eco-friendly shopping bags (when we remember to put them back in the boot!) 🙂
June 10, 2012 at 03:59
It’s amazing the rubbish we produce as individuals. Add those households together and it’s staggering.
June 10, 2012 at 13:00
I know……. with four of us it is a bit crazy!
The ITT System
June 10, 2012 at 11:01
The bad taste of the tap water can probably be attributed to minerals and other things that can be filtered out with a filter attached to your faucet. If you do that, then you can reuse your water bottles like we do in our household. That reduces your waste considerably.
I can’t wait to see how this weeks ends, and whether changes are made or you realize you are actually doing a pretty good job.
June 10, 2012 at 12:58
Yes, this is a very good point! And we are SOO lazy and should at LEAST re-use the small water bottles instead of buying new small ones weekly – pathetic, aren’t we? I may have to look into a filter……..
The ITT System
June 10, 2012 at 20:19
Aside from just reducing waste, I’m sure you see how it would help you save money. Also, the Anon below mentioned the paper butchers use; as far as I understand, that’s wax paper, which is also used for covering work surfaces when making edible art. I believe it’s sold near the aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and it’s biodegradable. Like others, I don’t get to do that much for waste reduction, but I do know a lot about it. 😀
June 11, 2012 at 00:05
Yes, it is important to also see how both money and waste can be saved/ reduced!!!! 🙂
June 10, 2012 at 12:32
If you guys live where you can have campfires in your yard you can save up a lot of that, (use a cutter to cut it into smaller pieces for storage) and burn it off. Most places you can have a fire IF you are cooking on it. So throw a couple hot dogs on sticks and tell them you are cooking. 😉 Not sure what a viable solution to the water is, we have well water that is wonderful tasting and tests nice and safe.
Do you remember going to the butcher and getting your order all wrapped in butcher’s paper? It has a light coating on one side so that the liquid/moisture didn’t leak out. Well you can still buy that and use it on your sandwhiches instead of plastic.
Before you assume I am good at this… I really don’t do much to reduce my carbon footprint, I just know how to do it. ROFL.
June 10, 2012 at 12:48
What great suggesting! Unfortunately, we live in an apartment with nowhere to burn! Ah, I remember that butcher paper, also a great suggestion but where we live the meat is wrapped in a plastic bag 😦
June 10, 2012 at 15:18
We started recycling recently. I was amazed at the amount of packaging we accumulate in a single day. We used to need to take our regular trash at least once a day. Now it’s down to a couple of times a week at most.
June 10, 2012 at 16:12
Wow, that is impressive! I am interested to see how this week progresses!
June 10, 2012 at 16:44
Well done! Over here .. food shopping bag and warping plastic must be degradable – and all other plastic we separate and by law the manufacture have to take all bottles back for making new bottles of, All by laws. Brilliant.
June 10, 2012 at 19:37
Wow, the laws make the difference!
June 10, 2012 at 20:44
I wish there were more opportunities to recyle here in the US as we have them in my native Germany. Down here in Karnes City there’s none. We can – though – recycle plastic and paper at the Walmart in nearby Kenedy. But that’s not adequate, by far.
June 11, 2012 at 00:05
Yea, I can relate….I feel the same way….
June 10, 2012 at 20:48
Kudos to you for starting to take inventory of you and you families contribution to landfills. We just got city wide recycling (we had a role in getting it started) and are so pleased. Keep up the progress reports! You are leading by example for you kids and your readers.
June 11, 2012 at 00:04
Thanks…. this week will definitely be interesting… though I am not such a great example, it appears…… 😦
June 10, 2012 at 20:50
I nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award! Congrats!
June 11, 2012 at 00:04
Wow, thank you so much!!! This is so very kind of you!!!!! 🙂
June 10, 2012 at 23:03
is the orange bag biodegradeable, if not can use a paperbag…hang in there, slowly we will become more and more away of our carbon footprints…
June 11, 2012 at 00:03
Ah, such a great idea! I am not sure they have large paper bags for house trash where we are (you cannot even get paper supermarket bags where we live!)
June 11, 2012 at 02:27
than we still have the problem of biodegradable needs time, air, etc.. to break down, check to see if you can get ones made from potato starch..or check at walmart, they have some in the freezer section, or home depot for leaves, sometimes the city will provide paper bags for leaves…
June 11, 2012 at 10:25
Wow, great points! I wonder what the biodegradable bags are really made of….. I will have to look!!! Actually, I do not think the package says what they are made of!!!!!
June 11, 2012 at 17:35
if it does not say it and your not paying more money for it, may not be biodegradable, another idea, can make a compost…lol
June 11, 2012 at 23:03
I would love a compost bin….. I live in an apartment without a space for one…. hmmm, reason to buy a house – so I can compost!!! 🙂
June 29, 2012 at 04:42
i hear yah, could also get boxes from you local stores, and use them instead of bags. good luck and have a wonderful summer.
June 10, 2012 at 23:31
It all starts with awareness
June 11, 2012 at 00:02
I hope so!!!
June 11, 2012 at 12:23
Good effort and you really did keep track of every little thing – kudos.
Suggestions? (if you like)
if your tap water is problematic (and I say this coming from a country where pretty much no one uses it for drinking straight up) is to:
1 – get a filteration or RO system
2 – get something like this – less wastage on multiple bottles, the big tanks are returned when empty for reuse, you can refill home water bottles (glass/empty alcohol bottles and the like are better than plastic for health AND environment) and instead of plastic throwaway bottles for the kids daily use/school/whatever why don’t you get reusable water bottles like kids used to have when we were all younger, like a water canteen? http://www.geappliances.com/products/water/water_dispensers.htm
The boxes (like cereal and stuff), maybe you could think about hanging on to some of the larger ones if the kids are still at ages where they need to make diorama’s and such? It is cardboard and can be used for a variety of small things.
Lastly – I have to ask, do you really need to consume 3L of 7up in a day? That’s really bad for everyones health in my view (but thats just me) and just because it says ‘diet’ does not mean its good for you. Excessive amounts of non-natural sweeteners like aspartame and all each have their own negative impact on your health. I’d severely limit it for the kids at least because they are still developing. For my generation, if you got one 250ml glass in a day of coke/pepsi/whatever, it was a day you’d been good and got to enjoy it.
BUT all that said, each home and family has to adapt and evolve their own lifestyle and chances are you’ll find LOADS of stuff that I couldn’t tell you even if I tried. Each home is unique and I wish you best of luck adapting yours.
June 11, 2012 at 23:12
Thank you for the great suggestions! Did you see that no 7-Up was consumed today?????? The good news is, sometimes I drink it incessantly, but we never let the girls. I have actually thought about a filtration system… I have been a bit scared off as our last system (now 4 years ago) malfunctioned and flooded my entire apartment while I was at work…. but perhaps it is time to get over that! Very good point about the cereal boxes! We even had a few teachers where I work use them as covers and bind them with recycled paper to make scratch paper notebooks… your comment reminded me of this – I need to consider it! I am still learning – I wonder where the next five days will take me????!!!! 🙂
June 12, 2012 at 10:46
Live and learn… 🙂
June 12, 2012 at 19:23
and learn and learn!
June 13, 2012 at 23:22
At least you are looking at your consumption…so many people could care less!
June 13, 2012 at 23:23
Very true! Sad, but true….