Fed Up with Plastic!

plastivistFeeling completely over-run with plastics, I’ve decided to challenge myself to an entire month where no new plastic comes into my home and ultimately my life!  I have enough plastic bags and plastic containers to last me the rest of my life and my children’s too.

The tipping point for me was the 4+ gallon size ziplock bags I’ve been accumulating per week.  This is how my beautiful, local, organic produce comes to me from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) we’ve been members of for just over two years now.

When my family and I moved out of the city I was almost entirely free of ziplock baggies.  We’d moved in an effort to be closer to where our food was growing and to have easier access to organic produce while getting to know the farmers.  We chose an area with a high concentration of organic and biodynamic farms.  We made a big move so that we could be healthier and to create less impact on our environment and our planet so that, ultimately, we could support everyone to live healthier lives.

Within two years our quality of life has improved to such degrees as warrants a separate blog!  However, the amount of plastic bags that have been accumulated is sickening.  It actually makes me feel ill to see how much plastic has been stuffed into every available space in my home.

I wash and reuse everything so the aggregation happens fast!  In fact, it piles up faster than I can wash it and certainly faster than I can reuse it.

And then there’s the plastic bottles and tubs that we recycle.  Our recycle piles are twice as large as our trash piles and a good deal of the trash is plastic wrappers, big and small, as well as plastic caps, lids and pumps that aren’t recyclable.  Of the recycling that leaves our home the plastic containers account for 50% – 80%.

And how exactly is plastic recycled?

For a long time my conscience felt real clean that I was recycling everything.  I put the plastic container in the bin and off it would go to be turned into another useful container.  My pride was vast as I pictured myself riding off into the rainbow sunset on my unicorn having done the noble and responsible thing – never thinking about the plastic thing again.

Well, when I did start thinking about it I wondered just how all that plastic was being recycled.  While I am still doing the research, here is what I have found out:

Certain plastics can be recycled once, maybe two more times into a denser, less recyclable plastic.  This is the reason for the numbers on the plastic containers.  At a certain point it cannot be recycled into another form.  This is called down-cycling and isn’t really recycling.  The plastics that can’t be recycled which include all those plastic caps, lids and pumps are either trashed or gathered together, shipped over seas and broken down into small particles that are then dumped into landfills or the ocean.  Once plastic is created IT DOES NOT GO AWAY!

So here I am.  Fed up, sickened and not going to subscribe to the plastic culture any more.

One Facebook friend said that if I could do it for a month then I could do it forever.  It’s day two and here is what I have already realized: I may be able to eliminate all the small plastic packaging by bringing my own bags and containers to the store and buying in bulk but how did that bulk quantity product arrive at the store?  In a larger plastic container!

Making my own products like toothpaste and shampoo requires larger amounts of ingredients like coconut oil and baking soda which come in larger plastic bags and containers.  Many of which will be reused but you see where this can go.  For the moment it feels like I may be just trading several small plastic containers for a few larger ones.

Will it amount to the same quantity any way?  Will it really make a difference?  Will I ever be able to reconcile my relationship with plastic?

To learn more, listen to this radio interview featuring Carolyn about “How to be a Plastivist.”  Click here to listen.

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