This past weekend we took in our recyclables to the recycling station a few blocks away. I have been recycling for years. It can get to be tiresome – all that rinsing, sorting and storing, but it’s become such a habit that I’d feel guilty if I didn’t.
For the last little while I’ve really been focused on how much plastic we use. Not just personally, but collectively.
I understand that plastic has its uses and that it serves some very good purposes and that, without it, certain aspects of modern life would not be possible.
But, do we really need to individually wrap cucumbers and packages of cookies and crackers? Are little individual plastic encased pieces of cheese truly an advancement we can’t live without?
When I go grocery shopping I’m extremely conscious and picky about what I buy and how it’s packaged. If something comes in a cello-wrapped box and its contents are in turn cello-or-plastic wrapped – it ain’t ever going in my cart.
When I buy produce I rarely use those plastic produce bags. And if I do, I bring ones that I’m reusing or I use the cloth ones I bought especially for that use.
It is annoying to the cashiers, I’ve noticed, when they have to pick up my lettuce or celery and it’s not in a bag, and when they attempt to stick it in a bag and I stop them they get even more testy. I had one of them ask me one time if I wasn’t concerned about germs. I would be, I said, if I wasn’t going to wash everything once I got it home. She just glared at me.
The truth is we’ve become so tricked into thinking that covering our food in plastic is somehow preventing us from coming in contact with germs and dirt and bacteria. The only reason that plastic is there is to ensure less spoilage losses for growers, transporters and retailers.
Think about it – when summer comes and we all flock to farmer’s markets we’re not looking to buy fruits and veggies that are all wrapped in plastic, are we? No. We want unwrapped produce that we can pick up, look at, smell and even taste. We bring our own bags and we happily pack our purchases into them. Why should shopping at a grocery store be any different?
The amount of plastic pollution in our world is staggering. It is a blight on the landscape and it’s poisoning our oceans, rivers and seas. The companies producing all this plastic are doing little to nothing to provide solutions to dealing with the waste their industry produces. Individuals and small concerned groups are trying to effect change, but in reality their efforts are miniscule in comparison to the problem.
A while ago I contacted Costco and asked them to reconsider how they send out their consumer magazine and flyers. Use a paper wrapper, I suggested, instead of encasing it in plastic. Costco, supposedly prides itself on how they contribute to environmental concerns. I have yet to receive a response.
Just yesterday, I sent an email to a clothing manufacturer. J.a.c.h.s Girlfriend, out of New York. I thanked them for making a very nice article of clothing, but I also thanked them for not attaching the extra button in a tiny plastic bag on a tiny plastic string. Instead, they sewed it to the washing instructions tag. Awesome.
Every little thing.
The next time you go shopping, do the world a favour, and send a message to manufacturers and distributors, leave the plastic behind.