Just One Word: Plastics

At times it feels we’re just doomed to suffer in the toxic choices of our every day lives.

By Susan Lutz

I snapped the glow stick. The green, fluorescent light lit the way – the kids on Halloween safer because of the glow. The plastic glass I bought for my son this summer had the Minions on it. If I put it in the freezer, it would keep the contents cold long through the summer day. At times, it feels as if everything is toxic; everything is plastic. At times it feels we’re just doomed to suffer in the toxic choices of our every day lives.

There isn’t a day that passes by that I don’t feel guilty about a dangerous, toxic, or bad-for-me product our family consumes or uses. We occasionally buy water in plastic bottles. I go to the grocery store and sometimes forget my cloth reusable bags. After a few weeks, I’m stunned at the pile of plastic bags in the corner. I dutifully recycle my paper, plastics, and metals, yet I know recycling isn’t a solution, just a band-aid to a bigger problem.

So many of our conveniences trace back to our love of plastics. I recently watched The Graduate again and was stunned by the accuracy and the irony of the iconic line said to Benjamin as he debated what to do with his future:

I want to say one word to you. Just one word…Plastics.

The benefits of plastics and many other chemically based products made in our society are far reaching. Medical, educational, and at-home use of plastics grew leaps and bounds: think bags for blood transfusions, the parts in computers, the covers on our phones, the stuff that holds pens together, the fibers in our clothes, and so on…..

How do we turn things around? Just passing the tetra boxes in the grocery store makes me sad. I wonder if it’s impossible to change the course we’re on. I can’t predict what we’ll do to our planet, and ourselves, but I can obtain peace of mind and enough good habits to overall lessen my carbon footprint and instead chip away at improving our lives and obtaining a better balance of our existence.

What if we all used plastics less than we did the day before? I reuse glass bottles as my daily water bottles when out and about. Though not perfect (they sometimes break!), I feel it’s a tiny step I want to take in reducing my own personal toxic footprint on the planet.

I forgive myself when I don’t make it – when I forget to recycle or when I buy face paint with lead in it for Halloween. (I threw it out and made a DIY face paint from zinc oxide and chlorophyll!). But more times than I fail, I succeed. I’ll remember next year how to make the green face paint. As the end of the year and the holiday rolls around, I’ll buy less. And I see wonderful strides in our community. I see vegetable trays at children’s gatherings and a lot less candy floating around. If we all bought plastic water bottles once in a while or used the same computer two extra years, we’d make a huge dent in reducing the toxicity in our environment.

Make choices knowing that they make a long, long impact on our planet. Now, there’s just one word we must think about. One word to take us to our new level: consciousness.