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Rita Cusack's avatar

Rita Cusack

Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 673 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    15
    minutes
    spent learning
  • up to
    11
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill
  • up to
    14
    zero-waste meals
    consumed

Rita's Actions

Personal Care

Pretty oh so Pretty

I will purchase beauty products that are packaged in sustainable packaging.

Completed
One-Time Action

Food

Cook a Zero-Plastic Waste Meal

I will prepare 1 meal(s) at home each day without using any items packaged in single-use plastic.

COMPLETED 7
DAILY ACTIONS

Community

Learn about Local Environmental Justice Concerns

I will spend 10 minutes learning about how plastic pollution affects members of my own community and how organizations in my community are working for change.

Completed
One-Time Action

Lifestyle

Naked Bins

To the extent allowable in my community, I will either line my trash cans with repurposed newspaper or paper bags, or I will not line my trash cans at all.

COMPLETED 11
DAILY ACTIONS

Personal Care

Brusha Brusha Brusha

I will replace my plastic toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush.

Completed
One-Time Action

Pets

Invest in a Pooper-Scooper

I will swap out my single use plastic bags for a pooper-scooper.

Completed
One-Time Action

Food

Minimize Packaging

I will purchase food items with the least amount of packaging.

COMPLETED 5
DAILY ACTIONS

Lifestyle

Share My Actions

I will post to my social media networks about how reducing our plastic use is important for both environmental justice and conservation.

Completed
One-Time Action

Community

Estimate My Plastic Consumption and Go #PlasticNeutral

I will visit rePurpose website, complete the 3-minute plastic consumption calculator, and explore how I can reBalance my annual plastic footprint.

Completed
One-Time Action

Personal Care

Just Say No

I will avoid buying toxic plastics, including polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyvinyl.

COMPLETED 8
DAILY ACTIONS

Food

Buy Unpackaged Produce

I will purchase produce items without plastic packaging, making sure to wash them well before using them.

COMPLETED 5
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed


  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/30/2020 5:53 AM
    I made a new batch of yogurt and am surprised to find that it is just the way I like it!!! creamy and less tangy.  I am really glad this is working out because I can stop bringing home 32 oz plastic containers!  Participating in this Eco challenge has gotten me thinking about single use plastic all of the time.  I bring it up in many conversations with friends which has led to interesting conversations about how we reduce our plastic usage.  I am so glad I signed up for this challenge.

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/30/2020 4:46 PM
      I am delighted to hear that the Plastic Free EcoChallenge has been a good experience.  The next online EcoChallenge is in October, and is more general (not focused specifically on plastic) so keep an eye out for it.  The Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston will have a team.

    • Betty da Silva-Draud's avatar
      Betty da Silva-Draud 7/30/2020 10:45 AM
      Hi Rita,
      I'm so glad you have been successful with yogurt-making. It's on my list to tackle in the future.

  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/30/2020 5:53 AM
    I made a new batch of yogurt and am surprised to find that it is just the way I like it!!! creamy and less tangy.  I am really glad this is working out because I can stop bringing home 32 oz plastic containers!  Participating in this Eco challenge has gotten me thinking about single use plastic all of the time.  I bring it up in many conversations with friends which has led to interesting conversations about how we reduce our plastic usage.  I am so glad I signed up for this challenge.
  • Reflection Question
    Food Cook a Zero-Plastic Waste Meal
    Do an inventory of your kitchen to see how many single-use plastics you've used in the past. What are some resuable alternatives to these commonly used products? What would your impact be if you switched all the single-use products from your inventory to reusable?

    Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/16/2020 3:33 PM
    Most of my plastic are bulk containers.  I do have 2 areas I can improve.   One is prepackaged, individual popcorn.  Each paper bag is wrapped in plastic.  I could buy bulk popcorn and pop it without the bag.

    The hardest one is a food service I use.  Sun Basket, offers less packaging and I can use the paper bags that holds the ingredients for my trash can liners.  I also use the boxes they ship in for projects around the house and at work.  My challenge is that they put sauces in little plastic containers with lids.  I am collecting them but have not found a purpose for them yet.  I can take them to school (if we go to school again) for my students to use in creative ways.  But I am open to suggestions from others.


  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/13/2020 4:52 PM
    I bought an insta pot and ingredients for yogurt!!!  Tomorrow I will make yogurt for the first time!

    • Tracy Cook's avatar
      Tracy Cook 7/16/2020 8:57 AM
      Awesome!!! I'm glad it worked out!

    • Rita Cusack's avatar
      Rita Cusack 7/16/2020 6:10 AM
      I am eating my first bowl of homemade yogurt!!!  It is good but I think the next batch will be even better.  Lisa Brenskelle, thank you for the recipe.  It was just what I was looking for.  The process was a bit of a learning experience due to learning about Insta Pot and how to make yogurt at the same time, so I was surprised that it worked out.  

    • Betty da Silva-Draud's avatar
      Betty da Silva-Draud 7/15/2020 9:52 PM
      Would you share your yogurt-making experience with us, Rita?

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/14/2020 4:38 PM
      I hope it turns out great and that my recipe is useful.

  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/13/2020 2:42 PM
    I managed to go grocery shopping and not purchase a single plastic item!!  It felt great but it was really difficult.  I went to Sprouts and did manage to get some items, usually packaged in plastic, in glass instead.  But did not get items for a recipe I wanted to make because of plastic packaging.  My grocery bil was really small in comparison to my last few!

    • Rita Cusack's avatar
      Rita Cusack 7/13/2020 4:46 PM
      Soft tofu and Kimchi were the main items.  I am going to try HEB tomorrow.

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/13/2020 4:27 PM
      I guess the small bill is some recompense.  What ingredients weren't available without plastic packaging? Could you use any substitute ingredients or did you have to opt to cook something else?
  • Reflection Question
    Lifestyle Naked Bins
    Does changing the lining of your waste bin change the kind or amount of trash you produce?

    Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/10/2020 11:30 AM
    Changing the lining of my waste bin is changing the amount of trash and the kind of trash I put in it.  Just thinking through the process of not using a plastic liner in my kitchen (the only waste bin I use a liner for.) made me think how there are very few items that get messy enough to have a liner.  I recycle and reuse most of my packaging so it takes a couple of weeks for me to get a full kitchen bag ready for the trash.  As I use less plastic packaging I am hoping to have even less trash.  Reusing paper bags instead of plastic bags makes me more conscious of what I am putting in it.  I am looking forward to my next shopping trip to see if I can do better at buying items with less packaging and plastic. 

    • Rita Cusack's avatar
      Rita Cusack 7/13/2020 4:43 PM
      I saw that suggestion earlier! I did have to think it through.  So paper bag in the kitchen can and that is it. I do collect dog waste by reusing plastic bags.  I tried just putting it straight into the trash can. It was so disgusting that I felt sorry for the trash men.

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/13/2020 4:31 PM
      That's a good thought, to use paper instead of plastic for trash, but you do have to watch what you put in then.  Does make you more conscious of what you throw away. 

  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/09/2020 2:26 PM
    I am signed up to make 3 plastic free meals.  As I go through my day I think of things I can  make and am SO surprised to realize how much of our food is in plastic containers.  Even if I buy bulk it is still plastic.  All I can think of are all produce related meals as long as I use my own bags.  I plan to make yogurt and hope to find milk in a glass jug.  Oops  My starter for the yogurt is in a plastic container!!!  UGH!!!  Any other ideas?  Where can I shop in Houston TX and get some items that are not in plastic containers?

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/09/2020 3:42 PM
      I buy yogurt at the Farmers' Market (the one on Saturday a.m. at St. John School (3401 Westheimer). They have goat-milk yogurt in a glass jar, which the vendor will take back & re-use after you're done with it.  I purchase from Blue Heron Farm.  You can check if they sell at a Farmers' Market near you.  More vendors at Farmers Markets used to re-use containers before COVID, but some are now reluctant to do so. This vendor is not.  If you need information on other Farmers' Markets, I maintain a listing.  Just let me know.

  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/06/2020 4:33 PM
    I eat a lot of whole milk yogurt.  Even though I by large containers instead of individual ones, I feel bad every time I throw the container away. After chatting with Lisa I have decided to start making my own.  I am interested in looking at a few recipes if anyone has one.

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/07/2020 4:27 PM
      Rita:

      I have the recipe for you, but I'll need an e-mail address to which to send it, as it's a couple pages of explanation and options from a cookbook of mine.

      You can contact me at my e-mail gcs.lrc@gmail.com and I'll write back with a scan of the recipe.

      Lisa Brenskelle

  • Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/06/2020 8:54 AM
    I am doing great except... everything I have left requires purchasing items without plastic.  I am not planning to shop again for a couple of weeks.  :(

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/08/2020 4:08 PM
      You might consider purchasing online and having the items shipped to your home.

    • Tracy Cook's avatar
      Tracy Cook 7/06/2020 1:32 PM
      I am in a similar situation. I already did a bunch of work getting rid of grocery bags and switching over to reusable. I bought a metal straw a few months back. We worked hard at getting rid of all our single-use plasticware. But all my reusable containers are heavy-duty plastic. My shower stuff is all refillable plastic. All my travel kit stuff is refillable plastic, too.
  • Reflection Question
    Personal Care Just Say No
    Do some research on polystyrene and polyvinyl. How many items in your house already contain these toxins?

    Rita Cusack's avatar
    Rita Cusack 7/02/2020 9:31 AM
    WOW!  I have made an effort to remove plastic from my home over the last couple of years.  I am amazed at how many items I still have.  For example the thermometer and case it comes in, writing pens, trays, bottles of bulk items like vinegar, clorox, dish soap, etc.  spray bottles. So many things.  It seems impossible to be rid of all of them.


    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 7/02/2020 4:00 PM
      Plastics are ubiquitous.  No wonder that they now pollute air, land & water all over the world.  But, every change we can each make to reduce plastic use adds up and makes a difference!