I have way too much plastic crap. It is all around me. This computer is mostly plastic. I eat off plastic. I wear plastic. I drive around in a vehicle made largely of plastic. I am swimming in plastic. I mean this, at least occasionally, literally. Have you ever been to one of those kid play spaces where one can wade through a sea of multi-colored plastic balls? I have. It was a nice swim. And it was lots of plastic.
Seriously. Look around. Plastic is everywhere. And we take it for granted. If you do a little reading about plastic and if you start noticing, it gets a little scary. Think about this: Except for a minuscule amount that has been incinerated, every bit of plastic ever created still exists. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t biodegrade. It doesn’t go back to the earth. It sits around and clutters up the place.
Here is something you should know. In the North Pacific Ocean there is a patch of water that spins slowly around so that everything floating in it eventually comes together. It is called the North Pacific subtropical gyre, and it contains more plastic than any other place on earth. It covers the surface of the ocean in an area about twice the size of Texas. For those of you not familiar with United States geography, Texas is a state and it is, as the locals like to brag, really really big.
And then there is this: this gyre is one of five. There are four others. They are filled with bottle caps and chairs and bags and toy dolls and flip flops and logs of Styrofoam. All the plastic that gets tossed aside somewhere without being buried eventually makes it to the ocean. It floats about and floats about. It never goes away. Some of it breaks down into smaller pieces but it never loses its molecular structure. The plastic bag that you used one time to carry a plastic bottle of lotion (that you also used one time) flies out your window and will be around for hundreds of years. At least.
One woman decided she would try to keep things in check. She decided to try to reduce her plastic use so that as little plastic as possible was added to her life. She keeps a blog that I have been reading, and I recommend it. It is inspiring. It has made me keenly aware of my own plastic consumption and waste. She calls it Fake Plastic Fish and its tag line is this: Fake Plastic Fish… they’re cute, and if we don’t solve our plastic problem, they could be the only kind we have left.
If you want to read a fascinating, albeit disturbing, article about plastic, check out Our Oceans are Turning Into Plastic… Are We? It is a thorough read that should get you thinking. If you are a thinking person, that is.
I now try even harder to keep plastic out of my house. I have been an advocate of reducing plastic use for a long time, but these days I have been ever more aware of how much it is a spawn of the deh-vill, as my friend Skip would say. Look around. I bet you see plastic everywhere you turn. My guess is that anyone reading this has plastic on his or her body at this moment. Fleece? Watch? Hair clip? Buttons? I dare you to tell me you have no plastic on your body.
Again, I have way too much plastic crap. All these toys and markers hanging around the house don’t help. I don’t want to revert back to 150 years ago, when plastic did not exist yet. Plastic has made a huge difference in all our lives. Think of medicine and food safety, for a couple examples. But, since only a small percentage of plastic gets recycled, even that which gets dumped into the blue bins to be recycled, I ask you this: Is that mocha frappuccino you had recently really worth it? That plastic cup was molded, packed, shipped, unpacked, pulled from a plastic sleeve, filled with that cold frothy drink and served to you. You enjoyed it for half an hour, if you are a slow sipper, and that cup’s plastic will outlast your great grandchildren’s great grandchildren.
Makes you want to get a good (stainless steel) travel mug, doesn’t it?