Yesterday, I went for a walk with a friend of mine, and the ponds we walked by were populated by ducks, turtles, fish, and plastic. When I would see this in the past, I would feel really sad. This time, I took it as a sign that I was doing a great thing with this project. I felt great with the knowledge that I was doing something about all this plastic.
One of the questions I have beginning this project is why is this trash even there? Why is it in the water and in the environment? Is it because people litter, trash flies out of trash cans or trucks, or something else? Maybe it’s good that we see the plastic everywhere because then we are still aware of it. I don’t believe it’s any better if it’s in the landfill buried in the earth. It doesn’t go away. That’s what really gets me about plastic. It doesn’t biodegrade. EVER. Look around where you are right now at all the plastic you see. It will be in existence forever. I read an interesting article from Business Wire magazine stating poll results about what Americans know about plastic. Here are a few highlights:
- 72% of respondents do not know that plastic is made out of oil/petroleum
- On average, respondents estimated 38% of plastic is recycled (the reality is less than 6%, according to the EPA)
- Nearly 40% (38.1%) of respondents said plastic will biodegrade underground, in home compost, in landfills, or in the ocean (plastic will not biodegrade in any of these environments).
I just read an article in the New York Times that really bugged me. The writer was arguing that…I can’t even write about it, I feel so drained after reading it. It’s so ridiculous to me that there is so much plastic that is used just for the heck of it. Did you know that plastic is made of petroleum? Petroleum is BIG business. No wonder there is such an effort to put plastic in a pretty light or dumb people down to thinking that it doesn’t matter if they buy potatoes wrapped in plastic. That’s what the article was about. It was saying that environmentalists should stop complaining about produce wrapped in plastic because it helps to preserve the food. I saw shrink-wrapped potatoes the other day in the grocery store. Potatoes last for up to a month without spoiling. Tell me why I need to have a potato last longer than a month in my fridge. I feel very very strongly about this No New Plastic project or campaign or whatever it is that we’re doing. Mark and I were talking this morning about how this idea evolved. I’m very passionate about being eco-friendly in general. The more I learn, the more I feel that we need to change our habits. I believe change starts with individuals. That seems so obvious, but some people would say that only groups can make a change. What do they think a group is made of, I wonder?
I watched a documentary of how Ben and Jerry became well-known. One of the things that really helped launch their success is when the Pillsbury company (owner of Haagen-Dazs) tried to limit the distribution of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Boston. One of them (I can’t remember which one) stood in front of the Pillsbury building with a sign – “What’s the Doughboy afraid of?” It gained national news coverage, and Ben & Jerry’s sales increased 120% that year. They said it really helped them break into a larger market. So this inspires me. They inspire me. Little guy against the big company. Couple against the Petroleum industry. Ha! Not really though. I don’t want to think of it as an us – against – them thing. Plus, I really want our site to be welcoming, fun, and interesting to read. I don’t want to have the doom and gloom feeling of a lot of eco sites. I went to the PETA website a month ago and wanted to slash my wrists afterward. I mean, not seriously (you don’t have to call the authorities), but it was not a fun experience. I know they are doing wonderful work in the world and have a fantastic cause. I just wish it was presented differently.
This is why I’m so glad Mark thought to ask what the positive uses of plastic are. I think plastic for tubes and supplies in hospitals and medical settings is a very good idea, for example. I think plastic has so many great qualities. However, it also has the quality of lasting forever. So, I think we should treat it like something that lasts forever and use it wisely.
Not to wrap potatoes in.
Please don’t buy those.