Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Plastic and Life -- and cool documentary on at 10 pm tonight

The one constant theme of my plastic journey has been balance. Keeping the Earth in balance. Keeping myself balanced.

I know I can't be as hardcore about plastic as some plastic bloggers. No, sorry, no mascara is not an option. Like I've always said, I'm down with medical plastic. It objectively is better to have some things be one-time-use (tubes used in blood tests and band-aids, for examples).

Other things get into gray area. Milk cartons? Mostly paper, coated in plastic. What happened to the days of the milk delivery? I'd happily pay for milk in a glass bottle and then return the bottle to the store. What about ice cream? It's getting warm, and I can't hide my general obsession with frozen treats. I'm a huge fan of the ice cream cone -- pretty much ideal in anti-plastic-land. You eat the container! And a good place gives you a recycled napkin with your treat. But even stuff like that has plastic in its past...the big cartons in the ice cream store are inevitably plastic. Even though I generally don't go beyond myself in the life-cycle of a good when determining the presence of plastic (otherwise I'd go absolutely crazy), sometimes that makes me feel hypocritical.

I think this gets into bigger themes of the individual vs. the community (my topic for my graduation speech). Everyone lives on fast-forward. I know I feel more "entitled" to plastic when I'm in a rush. How can I move back to healthier times?

I like some of the innovative solutions I saw on the trailer for this documentary Addicted to Plastic. (Check out Trailer 2.) It's on tonight on the Sundance Channel at 10 pm. Sadly, I don't get the Sundance Channel, but I'll keep my eyes out. The most important quote I heard was, "We will be putting more packaging out there on the market because that's what consumers are demanding." And that's where I DO have a say. I can CHOOSE what I demand.

On the plus side, many people in my life have begun making some simple changes that, together, can make a big difference. They reuse bags and refuse plastic straws. They endeavor to take their own silverware to work for lunches.

I think it's ok to struggle. I'm going to try to follow some of my favorite advice from a book I was asked to read before my freshman year of college, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Marie Rilke: "live along one distant day into the answer."


Brooke said...

I've thought a lot about you and your un-plastic-ing during the last 6 months. I don't think we realize how much plastic we use because we buy things a little at a time. One plastic wrapper here, two over here. But when you lose everything and have to start over quickly it becomes so so blatant. I am a huge recycler, but even that hasn't seemed to be enough.

JMcK said...

I can imagine that would bring all the plastic into sharper focus, if you have to re-purchase it all at one time. Awareness has been the most powerful part of my plastic journey. Just noticing the plastic and other wasteful practices that are commonplace can be helpful. And it's fun to think up creative solutions. I have to remind myself to focus on the little victories, otherwise I get really overwhelmed because there is so much plastic out there! But un-plasti-fying is pretty fun. Thinking of you too, and I am so sorry that you've had to re-acquire everything.