Friday, May 22, 2015

Living in the Age of Plastic.

I wonder if the future will regard this time of human existence (along with the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age) as the Plastic Age?

Do a stocktake right now. Look around you. How much of what you see has a plastic component?

 It's ridiculous that we can't even buy a continental cucumber from a supermarket without it being wrapped in plastic, like the plastic will deflect any possible bruise or defect that could possibly occur to the poor little cucumber, making it more likely to be sold to us, the willing consumer.

I find it fascinating that we rely so heavily on plastic. Supermarket shelves are lined with the stuff. When I wander through stores, noticing the organic food wrapped in plastic makes me cringe. Isn't that defeating the purpose entirely?

I have taken on the concept of zero waste. Theoretically, creating zero waste isn't that hard. It requires a little more work than pure convenience, however. The hardest thing is thinking ahead. Ordering takeout isn't so easy. Buying, well, anything isn't so easy. I suppose though, when you think about it anything that comes wrapped in plastic is probably not good for us. No amount of junk food or convenience can counteract freshness and actually moving our arses. Life gets hectic but in the end, aren't we better off when our actions are purposeful?

It's scary what contains plastic. From face creams and hygiene products to our clothing to our food to our recreational activities. I was brushing my teeth the other day with a free toothpaste that I received from the dentist. The label said directly "Do not swallow." As I brushed my teeth, I noticed what felt like tiny grains brushing against my gums. Microbeads, anyone? 

I wonder if, like these Ages before us, we will move on from our overuse of plastic towards something more sustainable. 
What will archaeologists in 3 centuries time make of all the plastic they find? Will they think we were primitive creatures or living in a time similar to the Dark Ages? A group of people who treated their bodies and planet with total disrespect. Some kind of masochistic force. I wouldn't be surprised.  

Change starts with us. You and me. It's tough, initially. Discovering new things and new ways of doing our daily grind is always fun though. Start small. Aim big. 

Tips for reducing your waste: 
BYO: Bring your own. If you're going to order takeout, bring your own container. This works for coffee and food. I like to take my leftovers home, too. I'm a nana like that, apparently. I've read heaps of articles that say you should stock up on mason jars. That's just a bit too wanky for me. Mason jars aren't something that's common or easy to come by in Australia. You have to seek them out from specialty stores and pay a bit of cash for them. I feel like that fad is coming to an end anyway. I'd rather reuse what I have. I always keep jars from condiments and they come in very handy for storage. Plus, they look pretty.

We all have days where we think "You know? I can't be fucked." That is totally fine. Even a few days a week without this plastic fantastic is a huge accomplishment.

Make your own: this means you get to choose the ingredients instead of buying processed food. Or if you do eat out, eat in the restaurant so you are served your food on reusable plates and with reusable utensils. 

Use what you have: Do you really need to buy new? 

Shop local: this just makes sense, you little locavore. 

Buy secondhand: it's already here, so why not?

Think of the packaging: Before you buy, ask yourself if there is a way to buy the same thing but without the packaging?

Don't be afraid to try.  


  1. Great post Sally. I try with this but I know I can do more and reading this has really made me think. I've got a Keep Cup which I love and which I believe originated in Australia. I couldn't do without it for my morning brew on the train to work.

    1. I have one as well. Aren't they great? I also carry with me a bamboo spork that I actually picked up in London and a container for takeaway food. It's the small things that add up. :) xx