Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reducing our Impact - plastic alternatives

Alright, it's no secret that I don't like plastic. I refuse to take a plastic bag from the grocery store, I make my own laundry detergent because I don't like being responsible for the bottle, I buy powdered dishwasher detergent in a box. I also try to bake my own bread, tortillas, english muffins, bagels - because I don't like the plastic bags they come in. But I'm not perfect. The amount of plastic that comes and goes in this house in a year would be more than enough to kill a blue whale (literally). But today I watched a clip of Sir David Attenborough talking about plastic, and I realized that I really need to get back to my conscientious non-plastic consuming goals. You see, evey piece of plastic we bring into our lives ... every one ... is permanent. It lasts forever. And eventually it ends up in the environment - either in the birds at the landfill, or in the oceans where albatrosses feed it to their babies. (Take a look at this blog from another writer last year). Or it gets ground up into tiny pieces and gets eaten by very small orgnisms like krill. What happens when krill eat plastic? I hate to ask. But they are either going to die, or the plastic will head up the food chain and eventually get to us. This whole plastic society was pretty short-sighted, me thinks.

You may think that your actions aren't going to count. After all you're just one out of 6 billion people on this planet. But we live in the society that creates the most waste. And each one of us has to take responsibility for our actions. Even if you're only one in 6 billion, maybe someone will see you doing it and they will do it too. And if you don't do it, who will? We each have to take responsibility for our actions, and we each need to make an effort. How can you really sleep well at night if you don't?

So what can you do? Well, plastic bags. If you aren't taking your own bags to the grocery store by now, shame on you. It's simple. There are tons of handy bags that fold up and fit in a pocket or a purse. It's easy. And if you aren't doing it, you're just lazy. Sorry ... I hate to be harsh, but it's the truth.

I try not to buy individual servings of food like cheese, yogurt and pudding (although sometimes they end up here). But if you buy a large yogurt and put it in a re-usable container, not only will you save the pastic, you'll save some money, too. And buy a box of instant pudding that you can put into smaller containers. Again, it's cheaper, and the plastic is greatly reduced. It would be better if we could buy them in paper or glass, but that isn't an option right now.

Make sure that the packaging you buy is recyclable. Although recycling isn't the answer. It's an interm step, but it doesn't eliminate the problem, just reduces it a bit. And in a lot of areas, plastic can't be recycled, so it is best to reduce your dependance on it.

Manufacturers really haven't made it easy on us to find non-plastic alternatives. Do you remember years ago when cereal was in a waxed-paper bag inside the cardboard box? I do. My grandmother used to save the waxed paper and re-use it for wrapping sandwiches for lunch. So why did they change that? The waxed paper was easier to open, didn't slide out of the box, and was re-usable and biodegradable. Couldn't they go back to that?

And, of course, buying used stuff is a great option. No packaging, and you're saving on resources.

Anyhow, my little step for today was ordering bamboo, fully biodegradable toothbrushes. They come from Australia and cost $48 Canadian for a dozen toothbrushes. That's $4 each. That's less that you can spend on a fancy plastic one. And there is less impact on the environment as long as you don't count the airplane is has to fly on - but the way I see it is that the airplane is coming, toothbrushes or not. It's a start. Hey ... I'm trying. Maybe we can get someone to grow the bamboo here in Central Alberta where it's winter half the year. Well, that's not going to happen, so I'll have to ship them from Australia. There's always a hitch somewhere.

Toothbrushes used to be made of bone, you know. Bone handle and boar bristles. I'm sure it didn't taste so good, but neither did the chalk and baking soda paste. But we should think more along these lines. What can we use that comes from nature and goes back when we're finished?

I ask you all to do one little thing today that could reduce your plastic consumption. Every little bit helps. Every bit of plastic that stays out of the environment is one less bit that could end up in the ocean, or wrapped around a bird, or in the belly of a dead whale. Or headed up the food chain to our bloodstreams. Because that's where it will end up. You are your environment in a very real, tangible way. No matter how infrequently we think of it or remember it, we are nature. And we aren't treating ourselves very well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.