17 March 2015

Inescapable Plastic

I try to avoid plastic, especially plastic that is designed for single use before it goes to the landfill. So I don't use bottled water or liquid soap and I haven't had a takeout meal in months. But it turns out plastic is still inescapable, because everything seems to be packaged in it:

Yogurt, hummus, salsa
Bar soap
Deodorant, even the hippy-dippy salt kind; shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens cleaner, hair gel
Hand cream -- though I paid a pretty penny for some from in an aluminum tube from L'Occitane
Medications and supplements
Toilet paper, even the recycled kind
Dish soap and laundry soap (unless you can find the powdered kind, increasingly rare)
Dry beans, rice, pasta

This is a partial list, but look around your own home -- you get the idea.

Fruit and vegetables can be found without plastic packaging at the farmer's market, but not at the supermarket, where I otherwise do the bulk of my shopping, so the farmer's market requires a separate stop at a separate location. I don't do enough of my shopping at the farmer's market: life gets in the way.

In other words, even though I cook most of my food from scratch, almost everything I eat comes into my kitchen packaged in plastic which then goes into the recycling bin a few days later.

Plastic recycling is a kind of a scam, it turns out. You can recycle a glass bottle and make another glass bottle; you can turn an old alumin(i)um can into a new one. But used plastic is more limited: it can't be made into another one of the same item. It can be used for pipes, carpets, fiberfill, and fleece clothing.

It takes less energy to make a recycled plastic product than a new one, and it's better to recycle plastic than to put it in the landfill -- but it's far preferable not to use it in the first place. How do we put pressure on the manufacturers to stop?