My drastic plastic fast

12th June 2012 by

From today I’m on a plastic fast. What does that mean?  It means I’m going to try my darndest to buy no plastic, and nothing packaged in plastic, for one month.  Why plastic? Well, just for starters….

      • Plastic doesn’t biodegrade – unless it’s burned (causing pollution), it just breaks down into tinier and tinier particles

        No idea what I'll do when this runs out....

      • In the oceans, where most plastic ends up, this process releases toxic chemicals as it happens, and causes plastic particles to enter the food chain (including ours)
      • Many marine animals die after swallowing plastic bags, which resemble tasty jellyfish
      • Plastic soaks up other pollutants in the sea, making it even more toxic when ingested by marine life
      • Plastic pollution is a potential cause of cancer in humans
      • Plastic is a product of the climate-altering petrochemical industry
      • Check out this great little video to see the problem in a nutshell (or rather, in a seabird’s stomach)

Most of us, I think, have a sense of this problem, and even know some of these details. Yet most of us still buy and throw away staggering amounts of plastic. One of the defining characteristics of modern civilisation is the disconnect between our level of knowledge about the effects of our consumption habits and our collective inability to just stop.

A lunch no-no for me

But is it because we are given no choice, with every conceivable necessity and luxury shrinkwrapped, bagged or shelled in plastic? Is it that, even despite my strong opinions on the drastic need to urgently cut our consumption and waste, subconsciously I’ve actually accepted the tenets of the throwaway society that disposability and convenience trump the environment? Or have I just been lazy, unwilling to go out of my way to find the plastic-free products that must surely be available?  I don’t know. I want to find out. So that’s why I’m going to try to go cold turkey on plastics.

So, what are the groundrules I’m setting for myself?

  1. I won’t knowingly buy anything new that’s made of or packaged with plastics
  2. I won’t ask others to buy plastics for me as a way around it!
  3. Second-hand is OK – for example a pair of trainers from the charity shop that includes plastic parts – because the point is not that plastic is my untouchable kryptonite but rather that I don’t want my spending to send a market signal that creates the demand for further plastics production. So I think charity shop and second-hand is ok – but I’m interested to hear if you think this is not legit.
  4. I won’t try to just do without something and in fact plan to restock when the month is up – in my book that’s cheating. I’ll try to buy the non-plastic equivalent at the time I would normally make the purchase.
  5. And no stocking up beforehand! So I’m starting my fast just one day after I first thought of doing it, so rest assured there was no opportunity to stockpile.

If I’m honest, I’m now feeling a little nervous about it. It’s dawning on me that my plastic fast is more challenging than I’d thought when I first blithely promised this task to myself (and – doh! – declared it to others). Tonight our household sat down to try to figure out what we’ll have to find alternatives for and what we might have to give up. And it’s quite daunting. At various points we were aghast: “But we’ll have to go without x!” I’ll give you an idea of how that conversation went in my first update.

And I’m going to need some help, so check back at the Otesha blog to see how I’m getting on – I am definitely going to be appealing for tips!

Wish me luck.  Now read Part 2.

Photo at the top right of this page from a brilliant project by Chris Jordan.

4 Responses to “My drastic plastic fast”

  1. polythenepam says:

    hooray – another plastic boycotter on the block.

    You can use bicarb to clean your teeth and you can get it in paper bags – at least you can in Manchester. Tastes grim but does the job. You can also use soot – or is that another Manchester thing?

    Actually you can use bicarb for just about everything. There’s a list of plastic free stuff over at my blog that might come in handy.

    Plus a post on sneaky plastics you might not realise are there. That ones a real pain.

    All the best with your fast.

    x Kate blogging as Polythenepam.

  2. Linkesh says:

    Awesome!

    I started following this blog because of stuff like this: you are really trying to “be the change” which is so important!

    Love and Support!

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