A child gently nudges its mother’s lifeless body, coaxing her to wake up. She doesn’t. In desperation, the child tries singing a song to its mom, hoping she will wake up from the sound of its voice. She never does. This scene from a documentary I watched(Inside the Garbage of the World) is actually between two Blue Whales, not human beings. I couldn’t help but cry; we would never see this with humans, because our society has developed welfare systems to take in children that have lost their parents. What happens to the Blue Whale in the middle of the ocean who just lost its only parent, its only companion? It struck a chord in me realizing that this whale could have lost its life because of me…or you. The cause of death: plastic. Plastic that we humans create, use, then throw away…to the ocean it too often goes. After watching that documentary, I vowed to myself to reduce the amount of plastic I use, and realized this could change the world we live in, other living beings’ lives, and my life.
Plastic bottles, bins, toys, you name it, they find a way into our oceans. The inconvenient thing about plastic once we’re done using it? It isn’t biodegradable; it will continue to break down into smaller pieces over the course of centuries. Marine animals all the way from the smallest reef fish to the largest Blue Whale mistake our plastic trash for food, ingest copious amounts, and die from the toxins. I’ve decided I can’t live with that on my conscience. I can’t be so blatantly apathetic towards the potential lives I am killing, just because I can’t see them, or because they’re not human. I never want another animal to feel as alone as that Blue Whale just because I had to buy frozen meatloaf for my lazy self.
When one needs to make a life-changing adjustment, one must come up with an indefinite game plan. So here’s a riddle: What stands the test of time but won’t pollute the ocean? Reusable shit! Word, where do we start? I think the most obvious swab that myself and others can do is bringing reusable bags to the store. Another is bringing a reusable tumbler/water bottle wherever you go, always filled and ready. There’s usually always water fountains around anyway. Here’s where it gets tricky: everything else. When I say tricky, I mean this is where it gets easy to become lazy and dependent on plastic, but where I must form a new routine. This is where mason jars, tins, and otherwise reusable containers become our best friends: when we buy in bulk. Many organic and whole foods stores have these awesome dispensers where you can fill up on dried goods like beans, rice, and flour. Pretty much anything I need can be filled inside my mason jar.
Of course there are other things that are made with this material, like the plastic utensils we use for food then discard after one use. I urge you to use alternatives that won’t take thousands of years to break down. We use Perfect Stix Green Picnic cutlery kits, which include forks, knives and spoons all made of wood. These utensils are biodegradable and compostable, so they will easily break apart and safely absorb into the earth after use. These were on Amazon for just seven bucks! Another thing: hygiene. I admit I am still using my soap and shampoo products that haven’t ran out yet, only because I don’t want to waste them. As soon as I’m done, I plan on buying only bar soap with as little packaging as possible. Many organic food stores sell these, and they smell wonderful. When the last of my shampoo is gone, I plan on making traditional shampoo that my tribe and ancestors used to use, made from the root of Yucca. As soon as I have mastered the creation, I will share it with you in another article.
So what does this mean for me? Well obviously, more planning and cooking. But more importantly, not relying on plastic wrapped food will actually make me healthier in the end. Think about it; anything that isn’t good for you is usually packaged in plastic with unhealthy preservatives: chips, candy, microwavable meals, etc. By being more aware of the packaging of my food, I am inadvertently being conscious of the food I eat. Most of the food I will be eating now will have to be either fresh (veggies,fruit,meat) or dry (grains, beans, etc). I will have to create a meal from these, for that is how I will be consuming the least amount of plastic waste as possible. As much as I hate to do it, cheese won’t be included in my diet as much as before (unless I find it unpackaged). But by not eating it, I will have less clogged arteries without the pointless piece of plastic it would have come in. Sounds like a win-win to me!
And then sometimes we get lazy. Or maybe we are just craving something we don’t want to or can’t make at home. In my plastic-free journey, I have discovered that many restaurants will put the food I’ve ordered into my reusable containers I provide for them when I get there. I’ve done it with sushi, Chinese food at Pick Up Stix, and deli sandwiches. My cravings are satisfied, and so is the environment.
Look, I know changing your entire lifestyle to accommodate less plastic sounds like a daunting task. One of the hardest parts of it is having enough will power. Not being too lazy when finding the things you need, not resorting to your old habits. I still get like that now. And even worse is the idea that your adjustments will be futile, and will have no positive impact. How can one person change the world? But when I do get like that, I think of this quote, and I will leave it here with you:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”-Dr. Seuess
And then I realize that one person can inspire one person, who can inspire another person. And soon it’s not just one individual changing; it’s multiple individuals, and this amalgamation of people turns into an army of individuals who are now a solid population that is trying to change the world. Has this journey been hard? Not exceptionally, it has simply modified the amount of choice I have. But ultimately the decreased amount of choice has forced me to reach for healthier alternatives, especially concerning food. It really is about self-control, and knowing that your choices have a powerful impact; either for better or for worse.
This article has just a small amount of suggestions for transitioning to a completely plastic-free life, but it’s a start. Now if you think you might want to try to minimize the plastic in your life, check out this website underneath. It really helped me start off and made this lifestyle change seem more doable: http://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
And please feel free to talk to me about this, ask questions, share doubts/comments, whatever! I’m here for you in your transformation to a healthier and more environmentally conscience life.