Yesterday, the hashtag #OurPlasticFeedback was trending on Twitter. Waitrose had announced that it was trialing a new Refill Station that encourages people to bring their own reusable containers to store items such as pasta, rice, and cereal. I wish there was a Waitrose near me. Unfortunately, the closest is almost an hour away. Since we don’t drive, a huge environmental impact, that does not help. But the news is encouraging.
Plastics and their impacts upon our oceans, marine life, and biodiversity are what reignited this passion for environmentalism in my life. I was trying to lose weight and walking was a huge part of that. One night as I walked the beach, not fifteen minutes from our #HomeCrazzyHome, I saw close to a dozen dead animals. Birds, crabs, sharks, jellyfish. Many were either wrapped in plastic as this seagull is or near a pile of it. I began to clean the beach as part of my walks.
I also started to be more judicious about the amount and types of plastics I brought into the house. And most importantly, I began to educate myself about them. Did you know…
- There are seven types of plastics, only two are easily recycled into new products.
- The truth is that less than 10% of the stuff we put into recycle bags actually are.
- Most of it ends up in landfills where it breaks down into microplastics and ends up in leeching into our streams, rivers, and oceans.
- There are currently five islands of floating plastic in our oceans. The largest of which is between California and Hawaii is the size of the great state of Texas.
But it was not always that way. In my fifty plus years on this planet, I have personally witnessed the changes…
I remember when Pepsi, Coke, and other drinks came in glass bottles. You had to pay a deposit that was refunded when you bought them back. There were no 2-liter plastic ‘jugs’ of it either. You know what…soda/pop/fizzy drinks/whatever was a luxury. You had one at a time, at max one a day. Now we race to finish a 2-liter before it loses its fizz. And look at the climbing rates of obesity in the West.
I remember the first Tupperware party. Before that, we had always reused margarine containers and the like for any leftovers. But now that was not good enough. You needed to display your ‘wealth’ with this fancy new fangled, colorful containers. It is called conspicuous consumption and is one of the driving forces of this environmental disaster.
I remember the introduction of plastic bags. I was working as a cashier in a grocery store. We had always used paper bags, sturdy ones. Suddenly, we were switching to these flimsy plastic things and people were complaining. We were told…this is better for the environment. If they only knew…
And water! It came from the tap, not in plastic bottles.
It saddens me to think of all those moments now. To remember the changes that at the time seemed so wonderful. More Pepsi, who could argue with that? Pretty new containers for taking to potlucks at church? Every church lady had a Tupperware party. At first, we even offered people the choice with those bags. If I had a dollar for every time I said…”Paper or plastic, ma’am?”
Is this just a walk down memory lane? Am I suggesting that we turn back the hands of time?
No, though perhaps we do need to reexamine some of those options…like glass bottles instead of plastic ones. Glass is reusable. Just wash, sanitize, and reuse those bottles for a dozen or more times. It is also 100% recyclable…practically to infinity.
But we also need to think about other options. Those paper bags that we were told we are saving trees. Hemp grows faster than trees. It is a viable option for replacing much of the plastic we use today.
So, why don’t we? Because of the cost. The real driver for much of those changes was profit. Plastic and especially 2-liter ones were cheaper for Coke and Pepsi than those glass ones. Less hassle too…all those deposit stuff. They could justify the cost of retooling their plants based on the longterm savings. That is not the case in reverse. Especially in a capitalist empire where the almighty $$$/£££ rules. Until governments, under pressure from people, force them to change with new legislation and regulations, they won’t.
That is why it is so important that we do. We, the people, cannot wait upon government and business to get their acts together. Not when there are simple things we can do right now. Things like…
- Cutting back or eliminating those plastic bottles of soda and especially water. We all have taps. We can buy reusable bottles for our walks and runs.
- Using bags for life, preferably cloth or hemp ones.
- Reusing those takeaway tubs, margarine, and ice cream containers instead of recycling them and buying posh, colorful ones such as Tupperware.
- And using refill options where available. I may not be able to access a Waitrose but I buy all my environmentally friendly cleaning products at the local environmental center. Once a month or so, I load all my old plastic containers into the old lady cart (another option to replace plastic bags), I walk to town, and refill them all from their bulk containers.
We did not get into this mess overnight. Like I said, I have personally witnessed and ashamedly taken my part in this environmental apocalypse. No, we won’t be able to reverse it overnight either. But we are running out of time, folks.
Our conspicuous consumption, convenience, and the greed of big business must be re-evaluated. It is not just our lives that depend upon that, or children’s, or grandchildren’s, but the life of every single species on this planet.
Are the newest, coordinated plastic canisters worth that? What have you given up for our planet? What are you willing to?
I need to run now. I have to email my order for ethically sourced meats. I have this deal with some of the vendors at our local monthly market. I take them those reusable plastic takeaway and ice cream tubs, then I email them my order, and they bring it to the market each month…no styrofoam or plastic wrap, both of which are not recyclable.
Remember…Reduce…Reuse…only then Recycle!
Goddess bless from our #HomeCrazzyHome to yours…