In August, my efforts to reduce my plastic use further has hit a wall, or a sand dune. The tidbits of plastic I never gave a thought to before make up a shifting hump that I can not seem to pass over. I can’t navigate around the mountain of little plastic stuff.
This month I looked for shampoo that comes in a bar but could not find any, so I bought the biggest plastic jug I could find, one without the luxury of a pump dispenser and associated extra material. I could have researched on the net, but I did not, I gave in to laziness and did the easy thing, picking up the jumbo bottle and putting it my grocery cart. The same trip I also bought a giant plastic bottle of sunscreen. I do all sorts of outdoor stuff, know the awful sound of the word “cancer” in reference to my body, and I share sunscreen with Ed, who burns in the moon light. I chalked that purchase up as absolutely necessary. Those were the only two plastic bottles I brought in the house this month. Bottles are not so hard to avoid except for personal items. No bottled soda, no bottled water, no bottled condiments (unless glass is available), easy and doable.
Having eliminated most of the big, obvious plastic waste from my consumption, if I want to do more I am faced with doing without or avoiding small stuff. The caps, tabs, lids, and wraps are like the grains of sand Mr. Service referred to. I have thoroughly congratulated myself for doing without the packaging associated with sliced or grated cheese, ready-made salad dressing, and passing on purchasing new flipflops, but I continued to wink at the juice box with the plastic cap or the Popsicle wrapper. “Unavoidable,” I rationalized. The small stuff is easy to disregard or justify.
The little plastic things fall into my hands like sand slips into a shoe, collecting in tiny annoying piles. I went to my dentist to get a regular cleaning and found myself afterward in my car looking through a plastic bag with a plastic tooth brush inside a plastic bubble mounted to cardboard, a plastic box of floss, a sample of toothpaste in a plastic tube with a plastic lid and a tiny coupon in a small plastic bag. God forbid that coupon be soiled by touching the toothbrush packaging. I need to brush my teeth, and floss. I get big globs…well you don’t need details. My old toothbrush had bristles that looked like Einsteins’ hair and surely it’s not possible to buy a wooden tooth brush with stiff boars hair bristles wrapped in paper anywhere in my neighborhood. The floss — I bet the floss itself is a polymer. It sure seems plastic-like. The box certainly was. I know there are button-like metal floss containers but if you buy such a thing in the store it is boxed in a fist-sized or bigger plastic clam shell, to keep dishonest shoppers from conveniently dropping the tiny package in their pocket as it is eventually intended. This month I watched as Ed bought a large plastic bag of plastic floss bows with picks. He can’t seem to get the knack of the wrap around the fingers floss. It was a choice of many bits of plastic, or Ed with gingivitis. I opted for the plastic and kept my well-flossed mouth shut.
Digging through my recycle bin and trash cans today, for a cursory pre-report accounting, I noticed all the bits; the lids, tags and wrappers I have tried to discount as not mattering much, but I know they do. I just have not figured out how to keep them from collecting around me as I walk through life. Next month, I will shake out my shoes and work on reducing the use of little plastic things.
For the month of August. I will estimate an avoidance of 12 ounces of plastic “stuff.”