26 April 2013

Plastic: Escape It If You Can

I was at the office yesterday when I heard that New York City is now accepting all hard plastic for recycling.  (Unfortunately, they're still not recycling plastic bags, or toothpaste tubes, shower curtains, and other non-rigid plastics.)

I got to thinking a lot about plastic a couple of years ago and started to make a real effort to cut back on buying things made out of plastic or packaged in plastic.  I switched from shampoo and soap in liquid to bar form and from toothpaste to tooth powder (still plastic packaging, but less of it), and cut back on take-out lunches to avoid all the packaging that comes with it.

It's a constant thought process, because plastic is so deeply entrenched in our lives these days.  (Look around you: can you see five things made fully or partly of plastic? Ten? Fifty?  Just on my desk right now: sunglasses, watch with plastic band, laptop computer, iPad in case, two CDs in cases, pen, mechanical pencil, car key, cell phone, inhaler, phone charger, mousepad, photo album with flowers I pressed back in 1982 (ring bound), folder.  Seventeen items.  Oh, and I'm typing this while sitting on an exercise ball.

I wondered yesterday if my family could eat for a week without eating anything packaged in plastic.  When I got home, I went in the kitchen and took a look.  Here's some of what I found:

In the fridge: bread, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, tofu, tahini, cream cheese, hummus, celery, carrots.  The mustard is Grey Poupon, and I remember getting that in a jar; has the company switched over?

In the cabinets: a couple of kinds of cereal (plastic bags inside cardboard boxes), taco shells (ditto), various flours and a bag and a half of sugar, two kinds of seaweed, three kinds of oil, peanut butter, several bags of dried beans and lentils, and most of the spices and vitamins.

In short, no.  No, we can't eat for a week without plastic.  Probably not even for a day.

Want to play? Post a list of plastic items on your desk, in your backpack/purse, or in your fridge *right now*.