Monthly Archives: January 2016

Plastic mostly makes me cry


When we have conversations about re-wilding and the uses of technology, someone invariably asks “well, how far would you go back? I mean, a fork is technology!”

Yes, I understand that you can push an idea to an extreme, but that response is often a way to distance oneself from the challenge at hand. Anything to create distance between our daily consumptive lives and the havoc they create on the planet. A member of the same summer 2011  Beatitudes Society Bay Area cohort helped me to clarify a really specific place where I’d go back to. The time before plastic.

I like the original Tupperware as much as the next revolution-plotting domestic engineer. I am all for bringing back the parties where women could get away from house responsibilities for a moment and, over pleated multi-colored mix-and-match sets share with one another the mis-matched aspects and puzzle pieces of their lives.

Original Tupperware means the kind that was around before microwaves and isn’t microwave safe. It’s a time before the flimsy Gladware and other crap appeared on the market. It’s the stuff that is a collectors’ items now. If only plastic was so rare that it made its antique price soar.

I don’t like Tupperware so much that I need it to exist to improve my quality of life–I definitely find excuses to get together with other women to swap stories of our lives, ideas, fears, advice, and care! Drying each ridge of a Tupperware top with a light dishtowel after it came out of the piping-hot rinse water at home was the bain of that chore as a kid.

The prolifteration of plastic, Tupperware included, contributes to one of the biggest problems we have on Earth.  Right after the negative planetary impact of the military industrial complex (weapons, petroleum, carnage, destroyed buildings), and the killing of animals for human consumption of meat, plastic bits ending up in the ocean are one of the worst manifestations of the illusion that you can throw something “away.” By 2050 there may be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish.

As increasingly advanced technological solutions continue to be offered as “fixes” to the world’s environmental issues, “the plastic situation is a reminder that we still haven’t quite gotten the better of some of the problems left over from the first few “industrial revolutions.”” mentions a recent Washington Post article.  There is no such thing as “away.”

Avaaz is on it too, inviting people to contribute to a way of cleaning the oceans: “In December,  [Ricken] visited a remote island off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia. It was stunning. But then a wind blew in, and for the next two days, the ocean was covered in garbage, from candy wrappers to styrofoam. It was obscene, apocalyptic.

The discomfort such pollution causes us humans is nothing next to the damage it’s doing to our precious oceanic ecosystems. Dolphins, whales, fish, every living thing is affected — particularly as the plastic degrades into tinier pieces that clog airways, mouths, and gills.

Of course, in addition to cleaning up our oceans, Avaaz notes that we must “stop dumping so much waste into them.” We could

  • Work with projects to reduce the flow of plastics into the ocean in the worst-polluting countries;
  • Identify other ambitious ideas focused on clean-up of the garbage patches using new technologies;
  • Organise community and beach clean-ups to stop plastic from finding its way to the ocean;
  • Push governments to limit or ban plastic — like San Francisco recently did with plastic water bottles.”

All of these collective activities have the same function as a Tupperware party but instead bring us back to our biodegradable, less petroleum-dependent state.

There is no Planet B.