“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan, OBE, FRGS – First person to walk both poles.
It’s easy to believe that we are helpless to make a difference; but we are only helpless if we surrender to apathy.
Recycling is even more complicated and less feasible now that China is not accepting our plastic waste. The New York Times reports that more than 300 cities and towns across the country have given up on recycling programs that were started in the 1970’s. Since recycling was never a good solution for plastics anyway, this is a great time to do our best to quit them.
In early November, when I decided to begin drastically reducing my personal contribution to the glut of plastic trash, I promised to share my progress, failures and setbacks (Kicking the Habit). Every change I’ve made has been a small step and every change has been challenging.
Challenging, but not impossible. Plastic is everywhere and I’m learning to question everything I buy; groceries and fast food as well as household and personal products.
Here are the baby steps I took in December:
Bathroom paper – Retail outlets sell TP wrapped in plastic, though it is available on Amazon in large boxes of 48. I am excited about a young company called Who Gives a Crap (https://us.whogivesacrap.org). Your choice of TP from this company is recycled or bamboo. Rolls are wrapped in attractive, recyclable paper and delivered to your doorstep in boxes of 48. This Australian organization uses half of their profits to help provide clean toilet facilities in areas of the world without them. As if all that weren’t enough, the company has a friendly and humorous approach to everything they do, and the product is gentle enough for the most tender tush.
Razor – I tossed a pretty pink plastic disposable razor in December. Hundreds of my old razors sit-in in land fills somewhere, refusing to ever go away, waiting for a future archaeologist who will seriously question the wastefulness of generations born during The Age of Plastic.
The greenest choice for my shaving implement would have been a used stainless-steel razor. They aren’t hard to find, but I’m only human, so I compromised and bought a pretty and feminine stainless steel razor on Etsy. It should last for a lifetime.
Tea Bags – Yes, cutting down on plastic really is a matter of baby steps. Millions of us use several tea bags every day and have for years. My favorite tea, Stash Double Spice Chai, comes in a plastic-wrapped box. Individual tea bags are wrapped in paper coated with aluminum on the inside and plasticized on the outside. The wrapping cannot be recycled.
I bought a stainless-steel tea infuser and loose chai tea at the grocery store. It was an easy, no-waste solution.
New Stainless Steel Mug with Stainless Steel Straw – Once or twice a month I enjoy a Diet Pepsi or Coke. I’m not ready to cure myself of that small vice, but haven’t had one since my November vow to reduce waste. Part of my January goal will be researching which restaurants will let me fill my mug with cola without using a disposable cup.
Misstep: I should have bought this item when I was at the grocery store. It came from Amazon wrapped in plastic. My Amazon habit will be difficult to overcome
January will mean more baby steps, replacing plastic items and containers as they run out. Saving glass jars for refrigerator storage in lieu of plastic containers and finding new products to replace old favorites sold in plastic.
If you are thinking about cutting down on plastics, or are in the process of making it happen, please share your valuable knowledge and experience with the rest of us.
Plastic Free, How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, by Beth Terry.
Plastic, a Toxic Love Story, by Susan Freinkel
4 thoughts on “Baby Steps, Missteps, Next Steps”
Thank you so much for sharing- this is so much leg work that you are doing that we can all benefit from!
My daughters have been buying WGAC for years. I don’t put my produce in plastic bags EVER – I grew up in Holland so things just went straight into a net- like bag for veggies, fruit. I run my plastics thru a shredder and put the plastic shred in the bottom of plants I grow in large pots for good drainage. The used tea bags go into the garden to fend off slugs, so do coffee grounds.
It’s a start of recalibrating one’s mindset. A very timely article Susan. Kudos to you.
Great ideas. So much seems to take us back to our childhood before things got out of control. I’m reminded of the scene in “The Graduate” – If we only KNEW what that “future” really held. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PSxihhBzCjk
Exactly, Charlotte. Back to our childhood corresponds directly to the beginning of The Age of Plastic. Also, you are the only person to make the reference to “The Graduate” – I think of it often though, “Plastics my son. The future is plastics.” How prophetic was that?