I don’t want to have to slander everyone’s favorite grocery chain, but they ignored my diplomatic attempt to message them about it.
My roommate asked me to go to Trader Joe’s the other day, and I agreed for the sake of looking for miso, tahini, and other goods of the sort that I could not make by myself. While there, I found myself more and more bothered.
Plastic here, plastic there, everything was housed in a plastic container. This included produce, packaged for “convenience”. This is so unnecessary; they have their own natural wrapper! Because of this, I could only allow myself to buy 4 things.
All the plastic turns into waste and it goes somewhere, but we’ve seemed to lose that connection in our minds.
Living in a city, I see littered packaging everywhere. Oftentimes I will pick it up, especially if there is a garbage can nearby.
But it feels like a losing battle. An empty cracker sleeve replaces the chip bag I picked up yesterday. This situation is getting bad.
Where does all the plastic packaging go?
A plastic island now exists in the middle of the Pacific. Garbage from the US is getting shipped to Malaysia (adding to its carbon footprint) to be sorted there.
And yet, items in single-use plastic containers continue to line the shelves of grocery stores. People still drink from plastic water bottles. They still haven’t made the connection from the plastic packaging they hold in their hand to where that plastic will end up, EVEN if it is recycled.
This has to stop.
All the futuristic, post-apocalyptic movies like Wall-E and Ready Player One show a future where there are mounds and mounds of garbage. Humans have either abandoned the planet or are forced to live among it. I argue that this is certainly our fate if we don’t stop and become aware of plastic’s lifecycle, and continue carelessly consuming it and throwing it away at the rate that we do.
It’s a scary thing, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
What can we do differently?
- Well for starters, start to reuse EVERYTHING. Instead of buying new things and promoting the creation of cheaply made, non-biodegradable goods, see if you can use what you already own. Even if it’s not perfect, will it get the job done?
- If you must buy something, go to a thrift store. You probably don’t need that thing immediately. And it will make it that much more gratifying when you finally get it after a wait. Practice temperance and patience.
- Be kind to your body. Eat fresh, package-less food. Boycott produce that is in unnecessary additional packaging. Show those big conglomerates that this is not something you want to support.
- Buy in bulk and bring your own bags and containers. This is not always accessible to all, because it depends on the grocery store. My proposal to Trader Joe’s when they ignored me was to change their stores to reflect this. They already buy everything in bulk and package it themselves, so why not just keep it in big bulk bins?
- Get creative. Learn how to make your own food that normally comes in a package. Peanut butter is easy! You just need a blender and peanuts, maybe a dash of oil to loosen it up.
- Sign my petition to ask Trader Joe’s to incorporate bulk bins into their stores, which are nationwide and will touch millions of Americans. They have great power and influence, and means to facilitate great positive change.
Be the change you want to see.
These things might take more work and thought beforehand, but it is in the name of being kinder to our planet.
Every action matters, every thought is powerful. Each and every human has a say and sway. No one lives in a silo where their actions and thoughts don’t impact others.
This planet needs healing. There is hope, and that rests in every individual’s hands. Let’s try to leave things better than when we found it.