plastic fantastic

May 18, 2011|Posted in: green, plastic, sustainable living

It’s everywhere. Plastic, that is. It’s really, truly in everything we buy and no wonder America and the planet and choking in plastic debris. Does this sound like a rant? It isn’t — yet. It’s more of a concerned discussion, with a rallying cry to myself. Self, I say, what are we gonna do about all the plastic in our lives?

Last year, for the month of June, I went on the Food Stamp Challenge and lived on the budget for a family of 4.5 on food stamps for the month. I blogged about it and learned from it, and am still practicing some failsafe food savings. June seems like a good month for a crusade, so what the heck? This year I’m going to work on eliminating plastics from our lives, June 1-30. And it won’t be easy.
This morning I went for a cup of coffee and they served it to me with a plastic lid (I brought it home to recycle), plastic stick to stir (I didn’t use it) and several little plastic cups with cream (I used them and left them there, doh!). If I go no-plastic, I will have to eschew the cream next time. Because the chance of the happy folks at Carl’s Junior recycling those little plastic cups is about a million to one. Nope, I’m pretty sure those little cups will be sitting in a landfill somewhere for the next thousand years or so. Unless, of course, they get blown out of the truck and manage to make their way to a waterway, and so out to the Great Pacific Gyre, aka Plasticland of the Pacific (see photo).

I buy gallons of milk in plastic jugs — it’s a better buy than smaller sizes. But it’s plastic, right? Which may or may not get into our food and our bodies, etc. Plastic needs fossil fuels to create, produce and transport the goods it packages. I could go on. But you already know this stuff. The dealio is this: I’m going to try and cut out plastics, and will blog on occasion about it. More, if it’s amusing, and less, if it’s dull. (Let me know in the comments section, please!)

But I figure on having to change my tune on a number of things: my couponing, for one. I get some pretty sweet deals on lunch meat and cheese with coupons, for example. But those are pretty plasticky, packaging-wise. That means I will have to ask for stuff at the deli and have it wrapped in paper only. More expensive? I’m sure it is. And potato chips — those tend to be in plastic bags. Pasta often comes in plastic. Bread comes inplastic. Bagels, shampoo, juice? Bars of soap may be wrapped in paper or boxes but come lashed together with plastic. So do multiples of anything. Our vitamins have the top sealed in plastic. Computer games and printer ink have plastic everywhere in the packaging. Toilet paper comes swathed in plastic, unless you buy individual rolls. Guess I’ll be doing that from now on.

We’re already pretty good about buying less plastic, or letting in very little. But this is about stepping it up a notch, and then we’ll see if we can still eat and pay the rent… What a pity that (once again) ethical living and paying the rent seem to be opposed. Is it more expensive to live without plastic? Can we live better? Or is it more costly and will we have to give up elsewhere to make this scheme work?

Stay tuned.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

2 Comments

  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    Elizabeth B
    May 19, 2011

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    Have you ever read Beth Terry’s blog, My Plastic-Free Life (formerly Fake Plastic Fish)? She started down that path several years ago, and I bet you can get a lot of your questions answered by reading about her experiences. I’ve learned so, so much from her. And she’s almost a neighbor of yours; she lives in Oakland. Just don’t get intimidated by her hard-core approach to cutting plastic out of her life. 🙂

  2. noreply@blogger.com'

    LisaPie
    May 19, 2011

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    This looks to be a way more difficult challenge than the fs one from last year. I try to be vigilent on the no plastic coming in the house, but it is extremely hard!

    The struggle I have had this year is trying to eliminate Made in China. This one is kicking my ass!

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