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Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Plastic Diet

 I love the ocean, it is one of my favorite environments to be around. Unfortunately it is turning into plastic soup. There are huge natural vortexes twice the size of Texas in the ocean. These currents carry thousands of tons of trash, mostly plastics and concentrate them in these vortexes. The plastic never breaks down. Even if it does to some degree, in microscopic amounts it is still lethal and a source of  BPA. Small sea life eat these bits, then they get eaten etc, until one day it ends up on our plate for dinner. Birds are dying of starvation only to be found with a stomach full of plastic caps and lighters.

                           There are five huge floating rubbish patches like this in the worlds oceans!
I went on a holiday to Bali about 7 years ago. Bali is incredibly beautiful, just the kind of island you would want to be shipwrecked on......except for the beaches. Everyone buys bottled water there because of health concerns over water quality but no one is recycling all those bottles. They just toss them aside when they are done and the beaches are littered with them. It's so sad that the very thing that draws the tourists there is not being looked after and protected. Plastic wraps and containers that are used for a few minutes will still be around thousands of years from now. That just horrifies me.

                                                           A Plastic Beach

A Plastic Ocean
A cruel reminder of the harmful effects of plastic

Today I was directed to a blog that is one womans story about how she was going to try and avoid purchasing or using any plastic products for a year. I have to admit, I try fairly hard to be concious about my footprint on this planet, but by the same token, I am nowhere close to really ,truly making an effort. I have bought about 30 of those reusable bags, yet 90 percent of the time I forget them in the car. I am frustrated by all the unneccesary packaging that seems to enclose every single thing we buy, but it never stopped me from buying things. I don't know how our ancestors managed their lives without plastic everything but it must have been possible.

After reading her blog, I went shopping later in the day. I went into the local dollar store to look for a few items and for the first time, I looked at the shelves with eyes wide open. I was dumbfounded. The whole entire store was floor to ceiling plastic. If things weren't made of plastic( and 75 percent of it was) then it was wrapped in plastic or had plastic handles, knobs, feet, etc. The price tags are plastic, the food all comes in plastic or plastic lined tins, has plastic lids or plastic bags within cardboard boxes.

 Everytime I reached for something, I asked myself, does this item contain plastic, is it wrapped in plastic, will I need plastic to get it home? Pheww, that was a hard hour of shopping. I put back most of the things I  would have bought without thought the day before. The things I did buy, I carried out in my reusable bag that I finally remembered to bring with me. ( they now live on the passenger seat of the car in a more visable location). I still managed to bring home some plastic ( a few bags of cinnamon hearts and plastic wrapped around some candles and a bag of coloured sand.

I don't know how possible it is to avoid plastic altogether, but I will definately be much more aware now of what I purchase and how it is packaged. I will make sure to bring my glass bottles with me to refill my water and I will put together a kit of reusable non plastic containers for take- out food. Matches instead of lighters, refillable fountain pens instead of Bics.

I am going on a plastic diet, care to join me?

What can you do?

 Well take a look around your home and note what is made of plastic. Could that thing have been  purchased made of some other material? Perhaps a metal egg flipper instead of plastic, or a wicker basket instead of plastic. Do some research, find out what things like toothbrushes,combs or razors used to made from and buy them.

Vow to never buy another plastic bottle of anything again. Buy glass or metal drinking containers, fill them yourself and have them in the car, at the office in your lunch box. Try to shop bulk and bring your own containers to refill for detergents,food,spices, and takeout.

Just say no... to plastic bags at the till, plastic straws and cutlery, that little plastic green fence they always give you with sushi. Think twice about dumping your TV, cellphone and any other electronics just because they aren't the latest fad. Think twice about whether you really need them at all. When I was young, only one or two families on a whole block had even one TV. We would all visit them to watch the really special shows. We watched less TV, had more real interactions with people and there was a lot less plastic.

If you can buy the same item without all the packaging, do it. Fresh bread in a brown bag as opposed to chemically filled bread wrapped in plastic. Buy your milk and veggies in glass bottles, your meat fresh,wrapped in wax paper you bring with you. Maybe go that extra step and can your own fruit and veggies. See if you can find a creative use for those plastic seals that need to be changed each time.

You CAN make a difference. Everytime you say no to plastic, there will be that much more room for something natural to take it's place. I would rather walk on a sandy beach than one filled with plastic debris. The planet is your home, you are not a visitor here, nobody is going to pick up after you. If you don't think you are consuming much plastic, I want you to keep and store every scrap that you bring into your home/life. I bet you will be choking on it in no time. Sending it somewhere else doesn't make it go away, it's just going somewhere else where it will NEVER go away. If everyone demands plastic free packaging, they will have to comply if they want your business. Today is an excellent day to start.

I would love to hear your ideas on  alternatives to plastic.
I will write another post soon about alternative beauty and cleaning supplies you can make yourself, that are healthy for you and the environment and don't need plastic packaging.

Thanks for caring, please pass the message along

This post is linked to Cindy's Show and Tell at "My Romantic Home"


  1. I keep forgetting too! But, I have two of these lovely Flip n'tumble bags that I keep in my purse an it is amazing how much plastic I don't bring home anymore. You can get these locally down on Granville Island at Paper-Ya or order them on-line. They have a strechy stuff sack sewn in so you don't loose the stuff sack and it is easy to stuff the bag in and takes up only a small amount of purse space.

  2. I work on the world oceans, and I have seen first hand the collection of floating plastic. Ive traveled in India and seen with absolute discuss the plastic garbage that has accumulated everywhere. It almost seems hopeless to resolve...................

  3. Thanks Tana, I will look into those, if its in my purse at all times then I have no excuse. To anonymous, I know , I feel helpless too when I walk in a store and see absolutley everything wrapped in plastic, but it's never too late to ask for change. Remember Mcdonalds styrofoam boxes? We got rid of those finally. At this point all we can do is educate people and make those choices for ourselves to be more concious in our shopping habits. If we all demand different packageing, they will have to listen! If you have any pictures to share , I would love to see them, use them to illustrate the problem.

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