Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Are SO Plastic

And not in that Seventies way.....

One of my favorite blogs belongs to Carrie over at The Blue Nymph:
( and while reading over there I came across a link to yet another blog, which for the life of me I cannot seem to find again, but it was from a family who decided to try to eliminate plastics from their lives, or stop buying plastic for a year.

For some reason this has stuck with me, probably because I read GarbageLand by Elizabeth Royte last fall (look over on my Sheltari, the link is there), and last summer read Safe Trip To Eden by David Steinman (also over on the shelf).

Garbage Land is the story of exactly where your trash goes after the big truck picks it up, and its fascinating. When we decide to "de-clutter", we're just de-cluttering our immediate surroundings. It doesn't disappear. It just goes somewhere else.

Safe Trip to Eden starts out with the author wanting to remove all the plastics from his home, since every piece of plastic you come in contact with manages to leech chemicals into your body, and currently we have .... I believe it was 40 parts in the average human....and the safe amount was .00000000000400000 microparts (winging it on the precise figures here, as I am not a mathematician. Anyone that knows me will vouch for this. But the point is, what's safe for us to have in our bodies could fit in one tiny micro-corner of tiny little micro-pinhead. What we have in our bodies takes up the whole box of pins, plus several pincushions).

To see just how much plastic there is in our daily lives, here's my desktop as an example (I could tell you it's unusually messy, and will be cleaned up as soon as I finish this posting, but I'd be lying. It is what is. I like it this way.):

Plastics, from left to right, photo above and photo below:

Computer cables, window plastic, air conditioner housing, some fabric content in 1950s barkcloth draperies, fan blades and housing, printer, carpet square printer sits on, computer speakers, cat, no wait, Cat is real, surge strips, stapler, TV, VCR, computer tower, VCR tapes, TV remote, paper clips and paper clip holder, calculator, highlighters, pens, markers, mouse, folders, baskets for organizing, scissor handles, catalogs (coated covers).

That's just in an approximate 3 foot by 3 foot area.

Okay, maybe just THIS area is plastic-intensive.

Let's check out the kitchen. (And I don't want a single comment about my housekeeping, if it bothers you, I'll be happy to pencil you in and you can stop by to spiff it up):

Plastics left to right, photo below:

TV, coatings on the tea boxes, dishwasher, crock pot handles, water pitcher, bottle of detergent,window frame itself, glasses in sink, scrubbies, and let's not forget what's inside the cabinets: plates, bowls, glasses, plastic-coated shelf dividers and plastic liner-stuff for all of it to sit on.

Maybe the other side of the kitchen is better:

Microwave, plateholders, face and front on oven,shelving itself, mixing bowls, water pitcher, mixer-in-box, dog food bin, milk carton ready to be thrown out, and just out of sight on the floor, a plastic step stool next to the plastic trash can, with it's plastic garbage liner (probably full of plastic wrappers).

This is getting depressing. It may be why I gave up on getting plastics out of our lives. That, and reading in Safe Trip to Eden that not only are we exposed to plastics when we touch them (think your kids toys), but when we drink/eat from them, when we use them in the microwave (it releases more chemicals into the food), when we breathe around them (how many hours do I sit in front of this computer or drive in my car with its plastic interior?), or just use products like shampoo or lotion (then we absorb it through our scalps and skin).

Literally almost every object we come in contact with either is plastic or is coated with plastic.

Now, keeping in mind eventually this stuff gets thrown away, and while most of it ends up in landfills somewhere, a bunch of it doesn't. A bunch of it ends up in the ocean. And the ocean currents carry it to a place in the Pacific Ocean, north of Hawaii, where it swirls in a plastic vortex, the size of the continental United States.

Think I'm making this up?

Welcome to the Plastic Soup in the Pacific Ocean:

One interesting discovery for the researchers exploring the plastic soup is that the ocean currents and waves eventually return plastic to tiny pellets. The tiny pellets are absorbed into plankton, which are eaten by fish, which are eaten by humans. And as you may have heard: We are what we eat, meaning eventually we literally are plastic.

I greatly admire anyone who can reduce plastic in their lives and figure out how to get along without it.

I just haven't got a clue how to do that.

Our solution for the moment is to plod along, purchase by purchase, literally evaluating everything. Gradually I'm accumulating glass pots and pans to cook in (don't get me started on teflon-it's a plastic as well, and is now linked to cancer), buying veggies that aren't wrapped, using aluminum water bottles, and trying to buy as little plastic as possible.

It's not easy. And it's mindnumbing at times, like trying to swim upstream in a flood. A flood of plastic soup.


  1. Carol,
    you are sooo plastic, lol.

    Great write up. This is why I dont like to think about this stuff, it can get depressing when you look at the world around you and try to be fully aware.
    Poor Chewy, life is dull without Plastic Chew Toys!

    Mr Plastico

  2. Rats. I forgot all about the plastic chew toys. No wonder he was hiding them from me.