Life without Plastic

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why Plastic Free?

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Why do you want all of the plastic gone?

After an awesome weekend with extended family, I have been thinking more about our lifestyle. Specifically, I have been trying to figure out how to explain our plastic-free zero-waste lifestyle. Being asked why we live the way we do isn't that unusual for me, I was homeschooled from middle school up. People couldn't seem to come to grips with why anyone would live an alternative lifestyle back then either.

My in-laws are Latino, so there are general cultural clashes that occur that have absolutely nothing to do with plastic or my trash can versus theirs. But after trying to overcome both a language barrier and living in essentially an alternate dimension this weekend, the time has come to explain my family's choices in more detail.

Here are our concerns and reasons for eliminating (albeit very imperfectly) plastic from our lives:

1. Personal health concerns- This is absolutely our biggest reason for eliminating plastic for our family. There are so many different additives in plastic to make it the right shape and consistency. They are horrid for you and particularly infants and young children. Some cause cancer, some negatively affect hormones, and others just make us really sick. Read more here. BPA and PVC are just the known baddies too, most of the additives are considered manufacturing secrets and aren't shared with the general public. Both of my children are under five and as a parent/caregiver you worry double for your children.

2. Need to think things through- To just accept plastic as a necessary evil is just as silly as accepting that pipes, bullets, paint, and more HAVE to be made of lead. When we can find alternatives, we should because we know it's bad for us. Do we have to use plastic toothbrushes? No, not if we have wooden ones. Do we have to use plastic water bottles? No, not if there are glass or stainless steel water bottle. The list could go on and on, because the human race is nothing if not innovative.

3. Environmental- We have to go here, right? I don't want to live in a giant dump and plastic pretty much lasts forever. It comes from limited resources. It can only be down-cycled instead of recycled over and over like metal or glass. It is not biodegradable, so it just keeps getting smaller and becoming bio-accumulated in wildlife that we end up eating, such as fish. More on plastic pollution from Beth Terry.

4. Financial- By reusing the same containers, etc. we save money that would be spent over and over on single use plastics, get discounts for our reusable bags, save in the long run on higher quality toys, razors, etc. and pay less for a smaller trashcan since we don't use it as often. This is higher up on Mr. Greenie's reasons for using less plastic and wasting less as well.

5. The challenge- Lastly, I rather enjoy finding alternatives for plastic and non-durable products. It's worth a victory cry when you define the odds and find the "yes" when everyone says "no" it can't be done. "But it can be done! I never dreamed that I would fly over the moon in ecstasy."

So, that is why we avoid plastic. Have we eliminated plastic completely? No, my youngest still wears hand-me down plastic diapers until we can afford to replace them all with secondhand organic cotton fitteds and wool covers. We often eat prepackaged food from Food Not Bombs that would otherwise be thrown away, which often comes in plastic. It's a journey, and everyone's journey is different. This is where we are right now, and over time we hope to continue to improve. 

That's why we want all of the plastic gone,
Little Urban Greenie

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