I never really researched this before. We lived on a beautiful beach for years, and used to take a pack of garbage bags down from time to time, fill them up with plastic bottles and Styrofoam and the odd can, and whine about the twits who allow their garbage to get into rivers and thus to the sea. Every bit of garbage that finds its way into a drain will eventually get into the sea, if someone doesn’t pick it up and see that it’s disposed of properly.
I was really mad about how it looks, you know? Stinky. And, well, the turtles might eat a bag and get sick or DIE, which is bad.
People of Earth, it is worse than that.
I have often smugly mentioned that my town recycles over sixty percent of our garbage, and that is great, but what good is recycled plastic, really? Have YOU ever bought a recycled plastic anything? I don’t think I have. I hear they use recycled plastic in furniture and cars? Companies like Billabong pride themselves on clothing made from fibres of recycled plastic. The trouble is that the plastic we use and recycle is never re-made into new water bottles or clear food punnets or T-Shirt bags. Products made from recycled plastic are not usually themselves recyclable. And plastic NEVER EVER breaks down.
So every. Single. Plastic. Thing. That I have ever bought or used is still plastiking it’s way around as someone’s backpack or deckchair, lying under a heap of landfill or *shudder* floating in the sea, where it confuses birds, fish and whales who think it’s something yummy. There are so many tiny bits of plastic in the sea that in some areas, if a whale opens wide to gulp some yummy krill, five-sixths of what the whale swallows will be plastic bits.
This doesn’t just give the wildlife indigestion; it causes hormone imbalances, severe blockages and death.
So, what am I going to do about it?
Already I have become fanatical about taking my shopping bag with me when I go out.
Tomorrow, on our day out to the city, I’m taking my thermos so that I won’t have to buy a plastic cup of (inferior) coffee. Saving money AND the Earth while enjoying awesome hot yumminess!
I have been ordering my groceries online and having them delivered: This saves packaging, since the groceries are brought in large baskets (no bags), which are offloaded and taken away. The delivery man will also take any plastic bags I have away for recycling. It’s also really cool to have SOMEONE ELSE carry those groceries up the stairs and into the kitchen… all I have to do is offload them and check the list to make sure nothing’s been forgotten.
I have a plastic-bag-recycling zone: all recyclable bags are dusted out or rinsed if necessary, and added to the main bag. This includes bread bags, salad bags, snack bags, and the plastic that covered my new mattress.
I will buy mayo in glass jars, not convenient squirty bottles.
I will BE AWARE of what I buy, and what packaging it comes in. If those sweet peppers are in a Styrofoam tray, I can do without them.
I am looking into organic farm delivery, where a farm in my area makes weekly neighbourhood deliveries of in-season fresh fruit and vegetables. This may be expensive, so I’m comparing prices and products. We eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and not much meat, so this may be a tasty and healthy option for us.
I will make more snacks from scratch, instead of buying packaged ones. I like to cook, and the kids like my dips, cookies and sandwiches, so it makes sense.
So far, all of my Down-With-Plastic activities have made me feel slightly better. I understand the importance of plastics in medicine and safety, and I do appreciate the good looks and convenience of so many plastic products, but I feel that it is time for the shoppers of the World (That’s us, fellow Mommies) to make a stand. For our children’s future, if there is to be one.
What else can we do to reduce our plastic consumption? Any suggestions?
by Nan Sheppard
Photo graciously provided by KM&G-Morris, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved