The Gore: My Plastic Cheats
No Plastic-Free Month would be complete without a full disclosure of some heinous cheats. So without further ado, I give you the 5 most grievous uses of plastic in my “free”-from-plastic month.
Please read forgivingly, and remember, my stated goal was to consume “No New Plastic” for the month of May.
Here we go:
I love everything about potlucks: Friends, food, social time, and recently, lots of warm weather and outdoor mealtimes. Which is all fine and dandy until someone brings a bag of chips. In plastic. Sigh. Although I was thorough in preparing and contributing food free from plastics, I found it hard to exercise restraint when faced with a table full of plastic-packaged goodies.
That said, it was delicious. I regret nothing.
They just plain come in plastic. There seems to be no easy way out. I grow basil and parsley in my garden, but struggled to find my other spice loves (cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper) in anything besides plastic. The good thing is, I bought no new spices. But I must confess I could have done more to steer away from these plastic indulgences.
(By the way if you know how to do this year-round, please get in touch).
3. Disposable Razors
Let’s go there. Suffice it to say that I used only one razor all month, and sparingly. I usually use an epilator (made of plastic… but lasting 10+ years), though I plain don’t have the guts to rip out the hair that grows in my armpits. So I caved, this time. And I know that stepping up to being truly plastic-free requires me to dive deeper in this realm. Noted.
Side note and fun fact: my new unpackaged deodorant doesn’t clog my razor, so it’s lasted twice as long as usual. The more you know!
4. Sneaky plastic
Plastic snuck up on me in a lot of unexpected places. I found it lining cans, on the inside of metal lids, and sealing otherwise harmless glass containers. I also am guilty of accidentally buying a “paper” bag of tortilla chips, only to find it lined with plastic. Oops.
I’m aware also that many of the bulk food items that I bought and took home in compostable paper had once arrived at the store in giant plastic bags. So although I didn’t take home any plastic, I still consumed some things that had used plastic before reaching me. Yes, there was a lot of hidden plastic in my experiment.
5. Free things
I kept winning things. And I wanted to say yes to winning. A stranger handed me a bouquet of flowers yesterday. Yes! I won a reusable bag of groceries. Yes! A friend brought over some tasty pineapple cakes. OK! Nevermind that each of these things came wrapped in plastic. Apparently, I’m a natural winner. And like I say, I didn’t want to get in the way of winning.
But the truth is that none of these things was required for my survival. In the future I’ll need to make more strict rules with myself about this.
So ultimately, yes I have consumed some plastic this May. And, I’ve also outrageously reduced the amount of plastic I would typically consume in a month.
But failures aside, I’ve more importantly succeeded in opening a conversation around actually caring for our environment. Beyond paying lip service to “green” products or passively professing a love for nature, I am actively feeling out a pathway for me, this one human, to cultivate real environmental stewardship.
By employing personal challenge, I’ve taken responsibility for a solution that can defy those large-scale habits and patterns that we often resist seeing en masse. Foibles and successes considered, I am working to create a solution that genuinely works for me, and genuinely supports my environment.
On the larger scale, this Plastic-Free Month has opened my eyes to a big and scarcely-visible expectation of packaged convenience and compulsive consumption. I’ve rubbed shoulders with a cultural giant that tells me to stock up on discounted 10-packs of hand cream, and that I’m nothing without makeup. I can never unsee that ugly paradigm, and yet I’m prepared to tame and befriend that beast.
One by one, individuals are the people who actually shift monstrous mindsets like this. And I’m delighted to say that I’m willing to step up to that plate, even if I misstep a little along the way.