currents & waves

floating in an ocean of arts & humanities

my plastic diet

i was over at five alive and learned that blogiversity has a new green forum! after being raised by back-to-the-landers, working in a food co-op for a few years, and living in what might be the nation's greenest city (why, portland, oregon, of course!), i sometimes forget that many of the things that seem "obvious" to me have never crossed paths with the majority of my compatriots.

this is to say, i sometimes assume that everyone has heard about the trouble with plastic. but then i do something like snip the plastic rings on a six-pack apart before disposing of it and have a casual observer ask me what i'm doing, and it draws me back to the world in which people haven't heard about the trouble with plastic!

to summarize the situation, plastic is not biodegradable. i was reminded about this in the opening quote of a blog post called eternal wasteland: the problem of plastics--it's a quick semi-inspirational post from one concerned writer coming face to face with the amount of plastic in their own life.

and to follow suit, i'd like to tell you (whether to any degree of inspiration or not you'll have to decide for yourselves) about my own plastic solution. i like to call it a "diet." generally when someone says they're on a diet, they mean they're are trimming their consumption of calories. that's what i do with plastic. i make a conscious, sustained, daily effort to let less plastic enter my life than i used to. 

plastic enters my life from all angles, but one position that is particularly easy for me to intercept is at the grocery store. some strategies i use: 

i fill a nalgene water bottle with filtered water to carry with me--no more disposable plastic water bottles in my life. i also keep a polycarb gallon jug filled in the car as a backup plan.

i reuse emptied containers to store leftovers. no more new rubbermaid purchases.

when i buy groceries from the bulk bins, i fill containers brought from home instead of using a new disposable plastic bag.

when the checkout clerk at the store asks, "paper or plastic?" i respond, "neither!" and hand over my canvas grocery shopping bag.

i buy baked goods at the service bakery when i can place the item inside of less packaging than if i bought the same product off the shelf.

instead of putting produce in produce bags, i take it home as is and then store it in containers that i already have in my cupboards and drawers.

like i said above, though, there are many other places plastics have the chance to come home with me. i try to keep an eye on that and ask myself if there's a better non-plastic option, too. but like any truly successful diet, stringent restrictions and purgings that can't be sustained over time are no match for the seemingly less extreme measures that can be incorporated into daily life for the long haul. thus, my number one trick for reducing plastic in my life:

never expect perfect adherence to the ideal, but aim to make plastic awareness second nature.

Published Monday, April 7, 2008 4:47 PM by emcee christmas
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