P L A S T I C
(Week of 4/7/19)
And then, one day, it happens.
You notice plastic.
You order take-out, and, cleaning up afterward, realize there was more plastic than food. You’re on an airplane, and they hand out those little 6-oz bottles of water that take approximately four seconds to drink and find yourself calculating how many bottles were, for that brief moment of insufficient hydration, disposed. You’re having a romantic evening on a beach, watching the sun set, when the waves wash up a pile of fluorescent plastic twine.
Before you can stop it -- before you can turn back-- it gets to you. And, if you’re at all like me, you pause for a moment, think no, no, no! and finally concede, shoulders slumping that you are, now, one of those people who makes a stink about plastic.
All of which Melinda witnessed when we met for coffee recently and I almost lost my shit when the barista measured my coffee in a plastic-coated paper cup she threw away after pouring it into my reusable coffee mug (OH MY Goooooooddddddd), to which she said, in the calm, wise manner Melinda has: Why don’t we make plastic our next list?
So here we are.
Don’t worry -- this isn’t a list about digging out stats and angry documentaries to make you want to kill yourself. That barista included, I still have faith in humanity, and believe that, like so many things, the problem did not start with any malicious intent and that there are a lot of plastic uses that are really important and good.
It’s just that it felt worth digging into, if only to understand how we got here and where, if anywhere, we could find hope. And what really struck me, as we dove deeper into it, is how much plastic, perhaps more than any other, is a symbol of the slow-steady creep, in the years since World War II, toward short-term thinking, distance from nature and the negative consequences of unconscious action. And also how, in the younger generation’s fight to make a change, there is a larger movement, really, to re-think our values all around.
So, with that: this week’s list on plastic. If you haven’t got much time, the BBC article on “The real cost of getting rid of plastic packaging” provides a thorough overview of the current state of affairs, and the PBS piece on Tupperware an interesting insight into the expansion of plastic in American society since the late forties. The “Our World in Data” link will give you all the fodder you need for your next cocktail party in a way that is balanced and contained a lot that surprised us. We couldn’t decide which bit of pop culture best encapsulated the plastic metaphor, so we listed a few. As for making you feel better, the National Geographic Running List gives some definite hope for how countries around the world are tackling the issue, and all the non-plastic products we’ve included in the final section are ones to which we will proudly vouch.
And if you’ve got further ideas from your own experience, please send them our way.
Hope you enjoy,
The State of Plastic Pollution
Our World in Data analysis of plastic pollution
BBC article on the real cost of getting rid of plastic packaging
National Geographic’s running list on action on plastic pollution
Some Plastic-Reducing Products We Love
Reusable produce & bulk food bags
Swank metal straws
Non-plastic applicator tampons
Glass food storage containers
The best reusable coffee mug
Great reusable water bottles