I was just reminded by an article written by a friend who is working on bringing no new plastic into their home that I have a long way to go in becoming plastic free. She listed off what she was doing as an alternative to many of these things and one of them was bread in plastic bags (they are buying from a local bakery in paper bags). It reminded me of all the other things I still buy that come in a plastic bag: frozen organic blueberries and rice cakes and meat and fish are a few.
I have noticed whenever I get “uppity” and all self-important about something it’s not long before I am reminded of my own shortcomings. A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog called the Mystery of Plastic Bags where I was focusing not on all plastics, but specifically plastic shopping bags. I’m sure I annoyed a lot of people with my uppity attitude and if anything probably made some people more resistant to changing their “evil ways”…
And then I read the article by my friend and was reminded of all the places I am having a hard time giving up plastic. Well, it’s more about giving up buying a good gluten free bread (there aren’t many of them out there!) and the rice cakes I love and the organic chicken thighs I get a couple times a month!
I made my own bread for years and loved it. But then I discovered that it was gluten that caused the awful itchy rash on my back and I gave up all the wonderful yummy foods I have always enjoyed just to be rid of the dang rash! I then tried making my own gluten free bread… It was not a successful venture. I hated it. There was none of the pleasurable kneading of the dough – you had to beat it endlessly to make it work! All the weird ingredients… It just wasn’t fun, and the results were sketchy – and maybe I just didn’t feel like taking on yet another regular task I had to do.
Now I look in my freezer and it is full of these red plastic bags with a few bread “ends” left in them – waiting for me to thaw them out and feed them to the chickens. All those plastic bags… I save them and re-use them for various things, but mostly they just pile up in a big drawer in the kitchen. Maybe I could make something useful out of them – like those “grandmothers” crocheting sleeping pads for the homeless out of plastic bags? Unfortunately I don’t crochet or knit. My NON-gluten free friends can buy fresh bakery bread in paper bags – but I have yet to find one I can eat made locally. I know what I really need to do is bite the bullet and make my own dang bread!
Fortunately most of the other things she talked about were not such a problem. They were things I had mostly stopped using over time. Here is her list in case you are looking to work on doing this. The comments are from me and what I am doing as an alternative.
- Shampoo – I have been doing the baking soda wash/apple cider vinegar rinse thing for many years, and love it, so this one is covered. She found a good natural “bar” shampoo she likes.
- Salad dressing – I make my own with the juice from my “kim chee” so this one was easy too. This is something you CAN get in glass, and making your own isn’t such a big deal.
- Tofu – Gave up tofu a long time ago as well… phew.
- Lunch meat and cheese – I get cheese now and then – prepackaged in plastic. I will now go to the health food deli and get it there when I want it. Deli’s are the way to go for these.
- Meats and Fish – This one is tricky. It will mean getting my salmon at a place where I can get it fresh wrapped – a separate trip. I will talk to the folks at the store I buy my organic chicken thighs from – yet again – and see if I can get them in something other than styrofoam.
- Bread – see my whining comments above…
- Produce pre-wrapped or boxed in plastic – I don’t do this one any more, so I already gave it up…another phew.
- Fast-Food Plastic – The one drive-in I go to is a local outfit that puts the food in cardboard boxes… yea! Thank you Casablanca! If you still do fast food – ask for cardboard or bring your own container (and fork!).
- Frozen veggies and fruit in plastic bags (my addition to her list) – I only get the blueberries, so this year I will plan to go to a “you-pick” place if I don’t get enough from my bushes. I freeze in glass mostly.
We will each have things that we are attached to, that happen to be packaged in plastic – and are really hard to give up. All those things I gave up I did over a period of years, so it wasn’t such an awful cold turkey sort of thing. The thing is – I hope you will not give up giving up, simply because it’s hard or makes your life less convenient. Maybe if enough of us stop buying things in plastic they will stop using it to package things and it won’t be such an ordeal for the next generation. It can happen. It DOES happen, when enough of us put pressure on the system. Complain to the manager of your favorite store. Tell them you are going to have to buy your (fill in the blank) somewhere where you don’t have to have plastic packaging, but would rather shop there if they would only come up with an alternative.
Using your local farmers markets is one really fun and friendly and pleasant way to get fresh unpackaged food of all kinds. We are lucky that ours moves indoors in the winter – and keeps on going – and that we have people who make cheese and sell meat and fish and all sorts of great food products.
No matter what else happens in this world – we will ALWAYS have plastic! It’s something that we really must simply stop using or it will slowly do us all in no matter how many other things we fix. Together we can do this. People managed for a very long time without it, so I know we can too.