The anti-plastic movement

There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.
~Lily Tomlin

Among greenies, the only thing cooler than not owning a car is going plastic-free.

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of plastics. Plastic cracks, looks cheap, has a tendency to stain, and is made of petroleum.

On the other hand, plastic is also durable, water-resistant, inexpensive, microwave and dishwasher safe, and can be dropped without fear.

I have a small square off-brand tupperware container. It’s the perfect size for a sandwich. No way in hell are you going to convince me to part with it. I’ve considered finding a non-plastic alternative, but what else am I going to get that I can microwave, submerge in dishwater, drop, fling, and generally abuse? The poor thing’s been through hell. My mother owned it before I did and god only knows how old the damn thing is or how many sandwiches it’s seen. Ten in the past two weeks, to give you any idea how much use it sees.

My water bottle for work is glass, though. Actually, it’s an old Sweet Leaf Tea bottle. I’ve broken one before. If I break this one, I have an excuse to buy another tea. Win-win situation. I pay $1.69, and I get tea and a water bottle. The water bottle for my bike is plastic, and is actually an old Dasani bottle. I don’t like it as much since the opening is tiny.

There are some cases where a non-plastic alternative doesn’t inconvenience. Food stuffs are often available in glass or plastic. Spices, mayo, Nutella, to name a few. These aren’t handled as roughly as a tupperware container so the chances of their breaking is lower. I’d much rather get these in glass than plastic. Glass looks nicer and is heavier, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your situation. For me, heavier means the cats are less likely to bat it around the floor.

I’ve ditched body wash and liquid soap in favor of bar soap. Bonus points because bar soap can be easily purchased from small local soap-makers at farmer’s markets, craft shows, small grocers, etc. Once the shampoo runs out I’ll probably switch to bar shampoo as well. My hair is short enough that bar soap might actually be quicker.

As far as furniture and other household durables goes, I’d much rather not have plastic (or particle board, for that matter). This is mostly aesthetic. Once my current plastic shower curtain goes, I’m replacing it with cloth. Cloth can be machine washed and the cats are less likely to put holes in it attacking one another through it. I’m less likely to rip through the damn ring holes on a cloth curtain. And when it bites the dust it can be used as a towel, pet blanket, or something else.

So while I can understand the sentiment behind the anti-plastic guys, I’m not willing to go that far. I won’t throw out my perfectly good tupperware containers for Pyrex…while I love Pyrex, it won’t survive long being toted back and forth. I won’t buy individually paper-wrapped toilet paper rolls just to avoid the plastic in the 12-pack. That’s just fucking silly.

But I do think that people should pay more attention to the products they buy. There are alternatives out there, if you’re creative and/or willing to do a little research, or even if you just look a little harder.

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2 Responses to “The anti-plastic movement”

  1. I’m with you here. I recycle everything I can, and I try to avoid buying new plastic items. I do not like disposable plastic food items at all.

    But I have a lot of Tupperware etc, some of which is very old, and it is all useful and still functional. Incidentally, most of it is ‘compact’, ie: hand me downs or thrift store finds. Some was brand new on their lifetime replacement guarantee.

    Why would I replace something that already exists with something that still needs to be made, even if it is a more eco friendly alternative? I have a what’s done is done attiude – I can’t turn back time and stop this stuff from being made, so I may as well make sure it gets well used and I will purchase less in the future.

  2. I use glass water bottles as well, I find that the water not only tastes better but also quenches my thirst better then water out of plastic.

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