#PlasticFreeJuly Day 12: Love of Plastic, Love of the Earth

Everyone else got to go to school. We had just moved to Storer Avenue and it seemed to take forever to get me re-enrolled in kindergarten. Well, not really alone, but for some reason my younger sister does not register in my memory during this time. I wanted to be with my brother, who had learned the ABCs and could read books. I had crayons and coloring books to keep me occupied. I remember it as being early spring when my mother gave me a plastic cottage cheese container with a lid. I was thrilled. I had long coveted (for a 5 year old) a plastic container, so rare, so adult. I wanted to use it for everything — store my crayons, eat my breakfast, make mud pies. The combination of activities seemed to concern my mother so she took it away. That was the beginning of my love affair with plastic, and over more than 50 years plastic in its many forms would go from rare to ubiquitous to a danger to our health and environment.

Today I am half-way through the second week of #PlasticFreeJuly sponsored by the Story of Stuff Project. I took a pledge:

I pledge to avoid single-use plastic, to reuse or recycle the plastic that I do use, to educate others about plastic waste, and to take Citizen Muscle actions to make plastic a thing of the past.

I thought this would be easy. I carry reusable shopping bags. I have a metal water bottle. I reuse plastic containers as often as I can. I am an ardent recycler and composter (did you know NYC has food scrap composting sites all over the 5 boroughs?). It seemed an opportunity to transition to glass and metal refrigerator and freezer containers. But there are complications. First, Herself, the Diva cat. At almost 14 years old she is mostly indoors now, which is good for the local wildlife. But that means daily use of the litter box and the need to clean it. In the past, that has required plastic bags. The Diva is a very tidy poop machine so this week we will try paper lunch bags and those wax paper sandwich wrappers for disposal of her waste.

Travel. The first week’s recommendation from the Story of Stuff included, “Avoid single servings”. On long drives we pack food, fill our water bottles and try not to eat packaged food. But things happen, exhaustion sets in and then what? A white bread egg salad sandwich hermetically sealed in plastic.

So follow my journey through #PlasticFreeJuly. You will learn about

  • Mossville Louisiana, an historically African-American town that has been sickened and is being destroyed by our love of plastics;
  • The chemistry of plastic and what it means for our health;
  • Living with a water supply polluted by plastic production;
  • The amazing industry that turns plastic bags into park benches;
  • the amount of plastic waste generated by necessary industries such as health care; and of course,
  • My success and struggles with eliminating as much single-use plastic as possible from our household.