Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plastic Revolution

I had planned to brush by the plastic topic, as I do with so many subjects that need more,  and simply go on to other less offensive jottings, today, but several of you had such interesting comments concerning your own efforts to deal with waste products and I have continuing thoughts, myself.  One of the websites I visited in connection with this topic was Plastic Debris
Although the date seems to hover around 2005, things have not changed--except for the worse.  The pictures are simply appalling.  And, of course, we've "exported" our waste mentality to the world.  Globalization includes trash.
I sincerely applaud all efforts to reduce plastric use.   By carrying and using reusable shopping bags we support focusing attention on finding solutions to the trash problem.  We are "making a statement" that says, "This is something I'm trying to deal with."  Same is true of the company-made bags and, as Vicki at Vicki Lane Mysteries mentioned in one of her recent blogs, you can find some great bags for little money (she found bags at Tractor Supply for $1 and modest change, and I rushed over to grab a few and thereby gave a modestly infinitessimal boost to TS's bottom line!

My friend, Debbi at Knit Run Repeat picked up a little tip from the checker at Kroger's when she (Debbi) --not having yet developed the habit of bringing in her own shopping bag, and had left it in the car--suggested she simply load all the groceries back into the cart, push it out to the car, load the bags directly from the cart.  As Debbi said:  "Duh!  Why didn't I think of that. In fact, I might do that ALL the time from now on!"

But let's get past what are feel-good patches on still another broken system. There are a FEW shopping bags in the photo below, and far be it from me to "diss" any attempts to modify the plastic problem.  Suffice it to say we've got a LONG way to go!  Ruta, I loved your idea of saving all the leftover plastic from a week's grocery shopping and returning to point of purchase.  I, too, have had that thought and didn't have the nerve to do it.  But you know what?  The grocery folks are in the same "plastic boat" we consumers are!  They haven't a choice, either.

There's a website U.S. Peace Army that has some interesting facets, one of which deals with the plastic problem and again, I applaud them, but one of their directives is to "dispose of plastics responsibly."  To which, I respond:  "HOW!"  Reminds me of the cartoon during the Viet Nam war in which the bearded young man marching along carries a sign which says, "End the Viet Nam war now."  A soldier marching behind the young man is also carrying a sign...that says, "How?!"  And that about sums it up, except for being an activist.

How can we BE activists against plastic?  Get some facts under your belt.  Have the courage to bring up the subject. Funds are right now being CUT for recycling programs across the country.  So it's up to us to REDUCE the amount of trash we have.  Find out what's going on in your community concerning food "waste."  Find out what funding problems your community has with recycling...mine, for example has had funds cut drastically and they've had to cancel services which used to be available.  Find out how long it takes to "recycle" glass, for example.  It will blow your mind! 
Go to:  How Long Does It Take to Decompose?   So, why do we continue to manufacture glass when there's plenty of it for recycling?  Why don't all states requrire a deposit on glass bottles?  More to the point, why aren't we paying a nationwide deposit on plastic...a certain percentage of every purchase that includes plastic of any kind, which could go toward making a viable recycling industry.   We need to be shopping with decomposition in mind and refusing to purchase what I call "compound" packaging.  There's no need for triple-wrapped.  Start asking for paper bags if you must have a bag.  Start asking checkout clerks NOT to to give you a bag.  Yes, carry your own bag and use it...beyond this, though, we need to be thinking how NOT to buy.  If you are buying meat, look at the meat counter with an awareness of how much waste there is!  And remember the humble butcher of long ago. 
Realize, too, that in other countries, that butcher still exists.  MM and I shopped for groceries in Italy.  Let me tell you, it's a far cry from our ridiculously over-packaged country.  And I haven't noticed anything in the news that say Italians are sicker than we are because of tainted food!  In fact, maybe just the opposite
It's time to fight back...truly it is.  Use your imagination to think how.  My response is not to buy at all.  Of course, everyone can't do that.  But it's time to gather some ammunition in this war, and start fighting for Mother Earth.  Wouldn't this be a justifiable war?  Think of the billions being spent against our wishes, in Afghanistan, Iraq.   Trash reduction and disposal...isn't that something we could really get behind?  How about an Armada of ships going out to the Pacific Gyre and recovering that trash and then "disposing of it responsibly."


  1. A big topic and certainly worth a second post!

  2. Elora -- the worst hasn't lifted its ugly head from the trash pile. That is the use of the new product that every one is running after (with media conditioning of course). That is those long-lit light bulbs that are all twisted like a spiral. They all have mercury in them. And we are throwing them in landfills. They are leaching into our underground water. We have yet begun to realize the horror this will bring down upon us. -- barbara

  3. Didn't know that about the long-life light bulbs! Was going to say - You credit me with more radical ideas than I was considering re returning packaging. My idea was just to remove all surplus packaging at the checkout before putting my shopping into my (reusable) shopping bags and then leave it at the checkout. Can you imagine how mad that would make the supermarket management and probably the other shoppers as well? It would be a strong statement but I'm not sure if my British reserve would allow me to do it. I do have to say on reflection that there does seem to be a definite move towards much less packaging even at the supermarket especially with the value ranges which more people are buying as recession hits everyone's pockets.