Plastic is a petroleum product that's part of oil extraction industries. It's everywhere and it's long-term effects are incalculably bad. If you've been reading almost anything current, you’ve heard that our continuous exposure to plastic lowers our immune defenses setting us up for infections and even cancers. And it’s not just in our homes. Plastics from litter and landfills have fouled up our water where they act as carcinogens and artificial estrogens. Leached plastic is killing all forms of life in our lakes and oceans. And when marine animals are being poisoned, so are we when we eat any of it.
The plastics industry spends a lot of effort telling us that plastics are OK - that they're recyclable. But that’s a theoretical statement. The reality is that only a fraction of them are recyclable. And most of those that could be reused don't make it to the right place. Also, plastic recycling is energy intensive and, therefore expensive. Beyond that, even after you use the recyclable stuff as a car bumper or a lumber substitute, when it's over, it's over. The next step is the landfill or directly into some river, lake or ocean bottom.
Luckily there are some ways to reduce plastic use – beginning in the home. And that’s the main reason for my impassioned plea – “DEPLASTICIZE MY LIFE!” Obviously, no one is going to do it for me. I have to do it myself. And it’s not easy and is taking me many weeks. Summing up the deplasticizing strategy: * STOP THE PLASTIC PLAGUE BY REFUSING TO BUY THE STUFF.*
So, here’s a bit more about my progress, and I’m sharing this to raise awareness (and anger, why not?) about plastic exposure in the home and point out some practical ways that we can reduce that exposure.
There’s even a blog about a woman who spent a whole year without using plastic. Maybe you and I aren't ready for that yet. But we can minimize our plastic use – beginning today - and redoubling our efforts ASAP.
Beginning my kitchen deplasticizing saga
A year or so ago, I began my deplasticizing saga on a small scale. My new campaign redoublea my efforts. I've begun with the easiest steps and am tackling the harder ones as the days go by. As of now, absolutely, no more plastic shopping bags are brought in. I take my cloth shopping bags with me with a small one where I put all the produce items, together. They have to sort them out at the market check-out counter. But that’s their problem. If they provided small paper bags for those things, they wouldn’t have to do the extra work. I also don't buy products that are wrapped in plastic whenever there is an alternative. Farmers’ markets usually sell their products plastic free, so I do a lot of my shopping, there.
Currently, my kitchen is 80% plastic free. Of course, I may never reach an absolute of 100% free because there are plastics lids on a lot of things – like, for example, my stainless steel pans and the lid and base of my blender. I wouldn't know where to begin to replace them right now. And, of course, I'm not ready yet to get rid of all electric kitchen items – although I've thought about it – at least for the foreseeable future. I've got an electric refrigerator and stove, all of which have plastic components.
While I’m almost sure that it doesn't make sense to try to eliminate plastics entirely – even in the kitchen - I'm doing what I can to reduce our food’s exposure to plastic. It’s a question of a redo organization in the kitchen! I've read that the most healthy and safest canisters and refrigerator containers for food are glass or stainless steel. So, there’s where I began. All my storage containers now have a glass base. Some still have plastic tops, for now.
New steps on my deplasticizing campaign
After the initial efforts that I just outlined, I began to look around in my kitchen cabinets, drawers and on the counters. Some plastic could be found in all those places. What to do? The first thing I decided to do was to buy absolutely *NO NEW PLASTIC ITEMS*. The heaviest weight stuff – melamine plates and bowls – the ones that I use frequently, I’m keeping right now. They are still useful for cold lunch items and salads. All the hot stuff and food to be stored is always placed in glass containers.
I also have recently changed out my cooking utensils and the salt, pepper, and spice shakers for stainless steel and glass. It didn't cost me a fortune to do. I shopped around and came up with low-cost substitute items, all for less than five dollars, each.
As for more expensive purchases, I've had to take my time – only one per month. Just last month, I changed out my non-stick (plastic) rice cooker for a stainless steel one. The non-stick pizza maker is next on my list for removal – probably by buying a new countertop oven that accommodates 12-inch pizzas. I need a new one, anyway, and that way I’ll be able to use just one electric product instead of two.
Well, soon, my kitchen may be deplasticized to my satisfaction. But, I'll not stop there and be looking around at other areas of the house that also need a redo. I've already got a start on that. I’ve done away with most plastic containers in other areas of the house – all but, for now, the large storage boxes in the closet. I’m not sure what I could be using – except for, maybe, metal trunks. That would be expensive. So, I'll have to pause on that issue – at least, for now. Finding substitutes for my laundry basket and the waste cans shouldn't be very difficult.
At the present time, I’ve given up on plastic throwaway pens, pencils, and feminine razors. I use the refillable metal ones and an electric razor. What’s more, all my personal and cleaning products are made from coconut oil, sea salt, vinegar, baking soda, cornstarch, and borax. The dry stuff comes in cardboard boxes and the other usually can be found in glass. If I can’t find something I need except in plastic and it’s in sufficient bulk and not expensive, I may choose it. With these products, what I'm more concerned with is the use of non-toxic substances. Still, I transfer as much of these as I can to smaller glass containers. I currently buy a non-toxic bath soap bar, but I’d like to make my own soap bars sometime soon.
As you can see, deplasticizing is an adventure. It took us (people on this planet) less than 70 years – post 1950 – to get to this terrible state of affairs. But, I've challenged myself that before this year is out, my home will be 90% plastic free. Will you join me in this campaign?