In addition to our war on chemicals, Adam and I’ve decided to tackle another subject that didn’t exist a 150 years ago but is so pervasive in today’s society, plastic.
Why the war on plastic? What did plastic ever do to me? Nothing. And that’s just the problem. Plastic does nothing, as in, it doesn’t degrade, doesn’t break down, can’t be consumed by the circle of life. In effect, plastic is one of the most unnatural things I’ve ever come across. Everything in nature is part of a cycle; the ever changing movement of abiotic and biotic elements is simultaneously the most complex and most simple system I’ve ever had the pleasure to study. Within the confines of the natural world, everything has it’s place. Mufasa says it best in the Lion King :
Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.
Young Simba: But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.
So what’s the big deal with plastic? According to my google search, it takes at least 450 years for plastic to decompose, but it can be upwards of a 1,000+ years. Think about all the pieces of plastic you come in contact with on a daily basis, and then extrapolate that to a global scale. We are tying up a lot of resources in a form that will take at least the time of four human generations to break down, not to mention all the damage that plastic does to wildlife and ecosystems because of our poor management and lack of care. That’s not particularly tasteful when I consider the kind of environment I want my future children to live in.
So what can we do? Adam and I have been working towards ridding our house of as much plastic as possible, and luckily, there’s a plethora of simple acts that can greatly reduce your plastic usage.
- Don’t buy plastic garbage bags. If you think about it, buying garbage bags is throwing your money in the garbage in the most literal form. Why buy something to throw it away when you can use something you got for free? Adam and I get paper bags for our groceries, and then we use them for our kitchen garbage. True, we can’t throw anything we want in there, but as it’s located under the sink, we can simply drain off any random liquids that might want to sneak into our garbage and go. When it’s time to take the garbage out, we staple the bag shut and we’re good to go! In other garbages, we use old produce bags, as seen here (former apple bag now bathroom garbage bag!)
- Reuse plastic bags as much as possible. Adam and I freeze a ton of produce for the winter, as we prefer to eat as seasonally and locally as possible. That means we have to purchase Ziploc bags to store the food in our freezer (but we’re working on finding alternatives for that too!). So, since we’re purchasing them, we’re not just going to use them once and then throw them away. Instead, we do what we would do with another other temporary food storage, we wash the bags. As long as they don’t have holes, we wash and reuse these bags until they wear out. By doing this, we only buy 1, maybe 2 packages of Ziploc bags a year. They’re easy to dry, and they’re super easy to grab when we need to store food or non-food items quickly.
- Take reusable bags to the store. This ties into number 1, because when we aren’t getting paper bags (which is most of the time because we don’t make that much garbage anyway), we either bring our own bag or don’t bag what we’re buying. The easiest way to cut plastic out of your life is to simply refuse it. When we go shopping, we just tell the cashier we don’t need a bag while we’re saying hello. True, some put it in a bag anyway, or they look at us like we’re a little odd, but the only way to normalize something is to act like you’ve done it all your life.
As more of our world becomes tied up in a form that won’t decompose, we get further away from what’s real, and closer to what’s artificial. That’s not the kind of world I’d like to leave behind for my children. Instead, I’d like to follow the lines of a children’s movie, and think about all things in relation to the circle of life.
Stay tuned for part 2, coming next week…