By Celia Kiewit
Plastic bag bans are happening all over the world! Have we reached a significant “sea-change” in our understanding of the enormity of plastic pollution? Is this proof of critical mass in our awareness and response?Yes, a genuine grassroots effort has created this and it speaks volumes on how effective we can be when we recognize a problem and take personal common sense action.
This is all about habits, choices, consumer education and determination to answer the eternal question, “Paper or plastic?” with a resounding, “Neither, I brought my own,” or “Thanks, I don’t need any additional packaging.” We can fix what we’re willing to acknowledge if we care about protecting our beautiful natural creation.
This is not about cutting down more trees. I have enough paper bags to last a lifetime. Regardless, trees can be replanted; petrochemicals are non-renewable. Crude oil is currently over $100/ barrel. Yes, higher gas prices will change behavior, but “ouch” in the meantime! While ADM, Cargill, and Dow are searching for ways to design the perfect plastic, I prefer doing things the old-fashioned way with reusables. Speaking specifically to single-use plastic addiction, I’m advocating for simpler living through living simpler.
Efforts to invent biodegradable plastic are not soon coming to reliable fruition. A compostable and truly biodegradable material does no harm to the land, water, and critters. By contrast, plastic never goes away! It is extremely poisonous and harmful.
Incineration has consequences. Attempts at designing alternatives are commendable, but regardless of the substrate, there is always an additive, called a plasticizer, to achieve the shape, flexibility, and other specifications desired by the end-user. Toxics will always be left behind to infect the land and water. Making plastic from corn is ludicrous for many reasons.
The critters dwelling in the ocean still think it’s a “jelly”. Even whales filter whatever is in the water in search of plankton. Lantern fish, the most prolific fish in the ocean, have been found to contain high percentages of plastic in their tiny tummies. They are near the bottom of the food chain that eventually ends up on your plate. Even fish farming is at risk. See Capt. Charlie Moore’s book, “Plastic Ocean,” for more details. Did you see him on the CBS Sunday Morning Show?
Plasticized water is so yesterday! I prefer a ceramic cup for my tea or coffee and I carry a glass bottle for water encased in a neoprene sleeve, plus a set of silverware and cloth napkin. There is a ground swell of others choosing to do the same. Glass wins in the overall energy cost of recycling when all factors are considered. Don’t be fooled — the rate of recycled plastic is a joke. Yes, of course recycle, but there are so many reasons why it’s a very expensive band-aid.
What about picking up behind Rover? I don’t know about you, but I get way too much junk mail that goes straight from mailbox to dumpster. If I love my dog and my neighborhood or beach, wouldn’t I simply use a few thicknesses of this stuff? Many people have those long-handled scoopers making it unnecessary to even bend over. Perhaps we can forego legislation to ban junk mail by following this simple logic. By the way, Rover hates that dumb bag hanging around his neck.
Habits are hard to break, but the feeling of making a difference is addictive, in a healthy way. Remember when Virginia Slims was the sole sponsor of the Women’s Professional Tennis Tour? Yeah, we’ve come a long way, Baby!
I’m going out to Indian Wells in search of a tennis player to become the next celebrity willing to speak up for less single-use wasteful plastic everything! Stay tuned. We’re just getting started.
Celia Kiewit is an Encinitas resident