I usually sleep reasonably well. But I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up various times. Probably, this because I got into bed too early as I tend to do these days. I get into bed and I binge watch something on Netflix or Amazon or HBO. Sometimes that is fun. Sometimes though, it makes me feel guilty. I do read books, but I would probably be reading more if it weren’t for the guilty pleasure of binge watching streamed shows. I almost entirely assuage my conscience by reasoning that the shows are clever and well produced. There are a lot of good shows available now. And I do need a break from politics and responsibilities. But the guilt mostly comes from the fact that I long to PRODUCE more than consume. I know that the clock is ticking.
But that isn’t what I mean to talk about.
I did not sleep well last night because I am concerned about our planet. At one point, I woke up and thought about how I use plastics in my life. And I thought about how I might improve myself. I want to “check myself before I wreck myself” (paraphrasing a Zach Galifianakis character in a boy flick). I am taking stock again. I wonder if it would help the planet if each of us took a moment to reflect upon this.
Although I have almost entirely stopped using plastic bags from stores, and my dry cleaner has been handing out re-useable covers to protect the clothing in transit (I purchase fewer and fewer clothes that need dry cleaning anyway), and I no longer buy facial products with microbeads, and although stores no longer automatically put things in plastic bags, etc… there is still a lot of plastic in my life, much of which has added up over the years, and much of which still winds up in landfills, waste-to-energy plants, or even possibly in oceans and in the air.
Plastics can be helpful as it lightweights products in transit which means that there is less fossil fuel used to transport products, and it also helps protect certain products from damage or destruction, before or after purchase, so that there is less overall waste. It has made great medical and technological advancements possible. But, I would like to use less plastic because I like the earth and the animals on it and I would like to be part of a solution, not a problem. Yet, even as a relatively conscientious consumer (who tries to consume less and better), I find that I cannot yet avoid using plastics as they show up without my control in products I consume.
What really bothers me is when wilderness-product companies have the smallest of plastic hooks holding their tags to their clothing, since these are companies that build their identity on promoting that they are ecologically minded. And it does erode confidence when a cosmetic company professes to care about your skin or health but then uses one-use plastic as the container for their products, and worse, use multiple polymers of plastic with plungers, for instance, that cannot be recycled. It undermines their message, at the least.
So, as I said, I am taking stock. I wonder if we all take stock and then maybe communicate with companies, could we produce and use less plastic, keeping it out of our water and air and the animals who need both? Here is a list of plastics I use.
Makeup holders/containers and brushes
Toilet seat and lid
Parts of this laptop
Coffee maker parts
Food containers (the containers I use and reuse to store food, like Tupperware)
Materials in certain clothing (makes them more stretchy)
Occasional ziplock bags
The little parts for your nose on eyeglasses
Food containers (the containers they came in, like cottage cheese or yogurt)
Milk containers (or even the little spouts of the non-plastic cartons)
The patch inside me for the hernia from years ago
Hairbrush, comb, shampoo and other hair product bottles
phone case (and parts?)
Plastic bags to cover clothing in storage or from the cleaners
Packaging wrapped around certain foods at the store
Plastic bags and containers that I am given with take-out food
Containers/Packaging that come with products (molded plastic that is only for display and pre-purchase use)
Pieces and pieces of hardware used for furniture, pens, key holders…
Parts of my house: radiant flooring tubes, PVC pipes, parts of lighting, wiring, etc.
Connectors on clothing tags (hold tags to garments until purchase)
Technology wire covers
What about you?
In this regard, there is little we have control over other than not accepting a bag at the store, or by buying in bulk, or trying to avoid buying anything plastic, and certainly avoiding anything obviously overpackaged. Perhaps the next step is to pressure stores by leaving packaging at the store for them to deal with (and then they can pressure the manufacturer)? Any other ideas?