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Friday, July 6, 2018

Reining in my plastic life.



I made a pledge to do my best to make July a No-Plastic month.  As is usually the case, I presumed it would be a snap.  Wrong-o.  Plastic has invaded every nook and cranny of my life.  It is in/on/with/made of everything I touch, it seems.


After coming to grips with this fact, I decided that I would aim for not bringing any plastic into my home for a month.  The upside of this is that a) I will save money and b) it will stretch my creative abilities to their max. 


I have been keeping track of how things are packaged over the last few months, as I got ready for the challenge.  It's sort of like jogging in place before a marathon, without the ibuprofen.  I would say that 99.9% of anything I ordered online came with some sort of non-recyclable, plastic packaging.  A few were pretty creative themselves.  I got some adorable mugs from Calamity Ware and they came in a veritable Matryoshka of cardboard boxes; a total of 4 boxes, nesting tightly within each other, with the mugs individually wrapped in plastic in the final box.  Then there was the book that was heavily wrapped in plastic bubble wrap and enclosed in a bubble wrap mailing envelope.  I ordered a used copy of Plastic Free - How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.  Ironically, it arrived in a plastic dust cover.  When I go to the grocery store, the majority of items I tend to buy are packaged in plastic.  If I am not right on top of the people manning the checkouts, everything would be triple bagged.   I already schlep my reusable bags to every store I frequent.  If I forget them, I have to come up with creative ways to juggle purchases to the car (pockets are my life).  Then there are the epic fails - like my experience ordering frozen dog food (each package came in it's own giant box, lined with Styrofoam - my nemesis - containing dry ice).  I've gotten the packaging fairly well under control on that end, ordering a freeze-dried, human-grade food that is in a box.  In a  plastic bag in a box.  However, it looks as though I will be buying only used furniture.  I have been looking for a storage unit to help organize my craft/yarn/office room make-over,  for quite some time.  I found the perfect one, on sale, at a big box store in May.  It had to be ordered, so I did so.  Had I ordered it in July, I would have had to send it back as soon as I opened the box and looked inside - it was a plasti-phobe's nightmare.
Damn Styrofoam again
In an interesting twist - my local Wal-Mart (which I usually avoid like the plague) was the only place I could find organic fish emulsion fertilizer (in a plastic bottle).  They also are one of the few establishments that will take your plastic bags for recycling - they sell themselves as very 'green'.  However, when I got to the checkout, the woman refused to put my purchases in the bag I brought.  I had to do it myself.  It's not that I mind bagging my own, but really?  I don't think that the corporate message has trickled down.  The only reason I will enter the store again, is to use their bag recycling.
I needed to get cheddar, but cannot buy it at the grocery because it is in a plastic-wrapped block.  I did a little calling around and found two local places that carry large wheels of cheddar that I can get cut to order and wrapped in paper.  Score!  It costs more, but it is worth it in the long run, me thinks.  The upside about all this mental canoodling, is that I find myself thinking of creative solutions to all kinds of things.  I was watching a podcast about a young woman and her family who homestead in Arkansas, and I was admiring her gardening/harvesting apron.  I looked it up online and it was pricy.  I think I can make my own rendition at a fraction of the price.  The wheels have already started turning.  After all, I finally remembered how to thread my sewing machine.
If I can stem the inflow of plastic and reuse what I already have accumulated until it falls apart (but never goes away), I will rest easier.  I grew up (my teenagish years) at the dawn of Earth Day.  Those principles have stuck with me ever since and the one thing that stands out most starkly in my mind is the fact that there is no Away, as in throwing something away.  It goes somewhere.  Unfortunately, it often goes into the oceans and streams and rivers.  It goes into landfills.  It is blown to the sides of the road, up in tree branches.  This is a finite planet.  There are already too many people on it and those people are creating too much trash.  If more people would become aware of the amount of plastic trash they are generating for future generations - as in all their kids/grandkids/great-grandkids - maybe the trend will turn.


Hope springs eternal.
If you are interested in joining in, here is the link.

13 comments:

  1. Strange, our local Walmart uses our bags all the time. I hate all those plastic bags too. That may be a manager (or a cashier) thing.

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    1. I think it may be a local problem here. I don't have any trouble with any of the grocery stores, farm stores or any other store, as I always use my own bag (or multiple pockets).

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  2. We work hard here to avoid buying any plastic, we don't buy garbage bags or glad bags or any disposable silverware, dishes, but like you when I get stuff online I receive tons of plastic wrapping material. I sell on eBay so I recycle every bit of it when packing items. Circling round and round is better than ending up in our landfills and oceans I suppose

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    1. That's true, Donna. It is about the best we can do. I reuse everything I can, especially packaging materials. It would be helpful if some of the 'brains' could focus on developing biodegradable packaging materials that were inexpensive and effective.

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  3. California land of among other things crazy people migrated from other states and the land of eternal recycling and pump your own fuel. Since Jesus was a boy I think the second coming is long over due.

    Being one of the original yippie hippie sixties girls been there and done that. Styrofoam is my archenemy. That and processed balogna will both be decomposing for generations to come .

    I will continue to do my best to support the plasticless pledge.

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  4. AMEN!!! Thank you for the reminders to all.

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    1. I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir here, but it is so darn easy to go down that slippery slope...

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  5. Although I don't make a special effort, we aren't large consumers of goods which really helps on the plastic problem. I would guess 90% of our plastic that we do get is recycled through our local trash collection agency and most of that comes from groceries. The remaining 10% comes from things like bags of cheese and Amazon packaging materials. I don't worry about it because it is much less than say other packaging materials like styrofoam that we occasionally get. I probably throw away at least three or four containers of that stuff a year which assuming 52 weeks a year is 1/13th of our total trash output! I would guess during that same time period we throw away maybe 1/2 to 1 container of plastic.

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  6. "Our" town banned single-use plastic bags at the end of last year; yay, us! Being a coastal (and "left" coast) state, awareness does seem to be stronger here. My husband is still stuck in his Midwestern mindset, though....

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    1. I tell you, Oregon is sounding better and better by the moment...

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  7. Good luck on your quest. I am slowly eliminating plastics also. Tupperware was my first victim. It is funny how everything you order has so much plastic. The book wrapped in plastic on how to go plastic free is laughable. Take care in the heat. I am assuming it is still hot there too. Hugs B

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  8. How did I miss this post??? Ashland has gone to a no plastic bag thing 3 years ago and it's 10 cents for a paper bag. Pretty much everyone has their own bags. It is so hard getting rid of plastic packaging. When I buy on Etsy, I ask for environmentally friendly packaging only. Honestly, we all just use more crap than we need, plastic or not and I'm as guilty as the next person. I did find a wonderful Etsy seller the dates handmade wood toys....:-)

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