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As I am somewhat obsessed with analyzing waste, I snapped this picture of my mom´s building´s trash bin. My focus was actually on the overflowingness of it all as well as the junked plastic toy; I don´t know why, but it fascinates me. Today when I looked at the shot again, something caught my eye. There they are again! I last saw them ascending an escalator and now they are on their way to the dump. Those STUPID YELLOW BAGS from my last post make another appearance. They read: “Crazy days”. Indeed.
Information storm comingatcha. Because when you sit and breast feed for hours you have a lot of time to think.
Now. First things first. Eee! Are there any of you out there who have been reading since day one? What I didn’t tell you is that we have also been filming since day one. We have three years worth of footage on life without plastic, including, last year I challenged six families to quit too and filmed their stories. Our documentary From the Waste Up- Life Without Plastic, is now in post production. You can view the trailer here:
That is the link to our fundraising page. We are hoping to cover editing costs to make a full-length film that will educate, inspire, and entertain. Since launching the trailer, I have already received comments from people saying they would like to give up plastic too (but need help). Our film will help. Now imagine how many more we could convert with a full film?
Do you perchance have a few dollars to help in exchange for, at minimum, a good story? Or maybe you can share the fundraising link? Any small donation buys more editing time. With the Midway documentary coming out next year, to get our film out there too would be great timing. Otherwise I will chip away at it by myself and we will see the film when the cows finally come home.
Now, speaking of fundraising. I noticed this maybe (?) well-meaning campaign out there to do a feasibility study on some contraption to clean plastic out of the oceans. It has received $68 000 dollars so far. That is, $68 000 just for the feasibility study. In the words of plastic free guru Manuel Maqueda:
“These gyre cleanup machines, devices and foundations that emerge periodically are not going to happen. However they are likely to get lots of media attention –and distract from the real solutions. These more or less sophisticated delusions and fantasies of massive offshore cleanups testify to how misunderstood our plastic pollution problem is, and how disconnected we are from nature in general, and from our oceans in particular. What about stopping plastic pollution at the source? Wouldn’t that be a better use of our ingenuity, time and money? It also happens to be quite doable too.”
I’m not throwing anyone under the bus, but it shows me that people, in desperation, will throw money at a bandaid solution. But are they willing to examine their own role in creating the problem, and furthermore their part in curbing it? Our trailer has been viewed over 1000 times, with so far just 15 funders (one of them being me). Just saying.
My mom came home yesterday carrying ten paper bags, her purse also overflowing. She was exasperated. “Taina I finally get it! I was paralyzed at the store and had an awakening. Everything is in plastic and I couldn’t buy anything except bread.” Indeed she had bought ten loaves of bread I suppose to fill her need for groceries. The trailer finally moved her!
My last plea for donations is that if you’ve read my blog a few times, perhaps laughed, maybe got an idea, feel you are slightly better off or whatever it may be, and think that others would also benefit from sitting back and watching a flick on the subject, then spare a buck or two? I figure if everyone who reads this post, generally about 300 on a good day, donated 20 dollars each, we would reach our goal in just over three days. I promise you won’t remember the $20, but you will remember the story.
Back to my mom. I’ve been staying at her place for a few weeks, and been staring at and contemplating this plastic bag on a coat hanger…as I sit and breast feed for hours. It’s stuffed with some kind of clothing so that the plastic is stretched. Filmy and wrinkly like. I know I’ve said this before, but a plastic bag is so utterly foreign to me now. I have no idea what it is like to use those things, why on earth you would need them, and I wouldn’t be caught dead carrying one. Plus they stink. Creepy creepy material that plastic. With a little distance it all becomes so clear. You just have to give it some space.
[Note- by the time you read this the bag will likely have been promptly removed by a sheepish mother.]
This store was having a sale so for the event they had these particularly visible yellow plastic bags. I was standing waiting by the exit escalator (dying to get out) and watched the steady stream of bags ascend- like the store was pumping out these walking advertisements on an assembly line. And the dummies on the line with exes for eyes exited the premises and filled the city with these yellow markers of consumerism! Presumably sending more troops in to spend money on plastic wrapped goods and plastic bags, and to replenish the assembly line. What’s kind of funny in a not so funny way is that the people had to pay for each one of those bags too! I felt bad, whilst simultaneously judging the hell out of these poor unsuspecting people. Because I had a baby rather than a camera in hand, here is my depiction of the horrific scene.
What o what could it be?! Stay tuned for an exciting announcement.
Despite my subscription to slow and enjoyable, I wanted a small glimpse of ‘C’onvenience with a drive through coffee on the go. My Puck Flastic mug was lying on the floor of the truck looking grimy. Heck, I’ll cheat and just get a plastic lined cup but without the lid.
The drive through is busy. There are many cars ahead of me but whatever. I’ve already committed.
I get to the booth and make my request. The robotic voice from the box replies that she cannot give me a coffee without a lid.
“Because it’s dangerous.”
Wha? I’ve handled hot coffee before. If I spill it I will only have myself to blame.
“I have to give you a lid”
I will not buy a coffee with the lid.
“I can meet you in the alley and give you the coffee without the lid.”
That makes no sense. Forget it. I’m not getting the coffee.
Box goes silent but I can almost hear her eyeballs rolling in their sockets. Swish swish.
To add insult to injury I now have to sit in the drive through corral as I am pinned by the cars ahead and behind. And then! I watch as the driver before me hands her his reusable mug, which she returns. All this safely without a lid! Good for him though. He enjoys his first sip of coffee while I sit there stewing.
Serves me right. I’m a dummy for trying to stray and they are simply shmucks.
Two small things to write about.
The first are microplastics, something I only recently had the mind space to think about. I say this because the world of plastic is a lot to take in. The vast number of problems and pitfalls, and then how to begin eliminating them from every facet of your life. Enough to fill a brain space and drive you bonkers.
Going on year 4 I’ve finally started to deal with clothing. Because 1) I said I would, 2) wearing plastic seems off when natural materials feel smell and look better, 3) my drooly new human sucks on my clothing when I hold him, and 4) because poly materials shed mini mini threads of plastic into our waters via laundry water. Someone recently told me that >1900 micro threads are released with each load of laundry.
Gross you say, but so what?! Well, do you eat e.g. shellfish? The little buggers filter feed and hence suck up all the micro bits around them. Then we eat them and said bits. It’s not just laundry bits of course, but other microplastics from various other sources. Mega gross, which is one reason I avoid shellfish. This my friends breaks my heart because the seas’ bounty is of utmost value to our stupid species.
“What, why don’t you like upcycling Taina?!” We’ll it’s all fine and dandy but don’t view it as the ultimate solution. Take fleece made of plastic bottles. It all ends up in the sea, you see. But you don’t, ’cause they’re so small.
I mentioned the other small thing already. It is my 3 month old son-love-of-my-life. People always warned me plastic free would be difficult with a wee one. So far, it is not. I’m not perfect but what I can say is that simple works. All these crazy baby products, accessories, gidgets and gadgets totally unnecessary! They are just marketed to us up the ying yang before the guy even comes out of there. I almost succumbed myself walking into a baby store and had to check myself. No, he does not need the poly-everything cutesy owl hangy thing, when he is just as entertained by a homemade jellyfish mobile made of wool and sticks, which used to have whales until the dogs ate half of it, and which still didn’t seem to lose its entertainment value. Because I don’t want my son to eventually call me a bunk enviromom, I did recently splurge on an organic teddy made of cotton and wool. No noxious contents and the wool retains the smell of home hence soothing the baby.
You’d be surprised how many “organic” or “all natural” stuffies are filled with plastic. Just read the labels carefully. While most gifts we’ve received have been well researched, we did get one dog stuffed with…NURDLES!! Ie pre production plastic pellets that litter every beach out there. Horror. There is nothing cute or cuddly about plastic.
I was recently interviewed by a woman from the Globe and Mail (will post the article on Twitter and FB later this week). She asked me one particular question that has stuck with me. That was, “How do you feel when you do acquire plastic?”
My answer was “desperation”, because knowing what I do, ‘away’ has been forever taken away. Before, the alleyway was the place the magic dude came to cart my plastic crap to some magical place and make it also disappear from my mind. Fascinating to think that all it takes is that simple ‘away’ concept to justify so much consumption and waste.
We had ordered some building materials for our half-house some time ago. Horror descended over me as, what looked like the possible delivery, ascended the driveway. Everything was stretch wrapped like a million times to the point you could barely see the truck. We had never encountered this before, so how was I to know, but now I had to my name an associated 40 lbs of stretch wrap…for what…oh a mere thousand years!! I wanted to close my eyes and make the whole moving, shimmering, mound disappear. Alas, it did not, and at the top of the hill the burly driver had no idea why I just stood there speechless.
I repeat: what the heck do you do when there is no away? Nino eventually put the wrap somewhere and I have not seen it since. Best case its life was extended slightly in some other application, but the material is not gone, from this planet, nor my mind. Desperation, check.
*The next time we ordered wood we made sure to specify no wrap. It worked and seemed so simple with the benefit of learned anticipation.
I was at a music festival last weekend and one of the coffee booths had a great sign. “We serve your coffee topless.” Now mind you my baby has stolen my brain, but I ran over all excited to get a picture and talk to the people.
Me v naively: “Great sign. Why no tops?”
Woman: “We just like the sign.”
Me still not getting it: “But is it like a waste reduction motivation or a money thing?”
Onlooker putting lid on coffee: “I think it’s just a gimmick.”
Woman: “Can I get you something?”
I wandered off with a feeling that I just wasn’t on the same page. It wasn’t till several hours later that I got the joke. Topless. Right. What an idiot.
It’s easy to get totally mind wrapped in your own version of reality. I already learned that lesson a number of times this past few years. But man, when all you want to see is good.
If you have been paying attention to the plastic world, you will have undoubtedly seen the images of the plastic-filled albatrosses of Midway Island. If you haven’t, here is a small peek at the horror, courtesy of photographer Chris Jordan:
Filled with and starved by pen caps, lighters, and toxic doo dads of all shapes and sizes, these feathered victims have become the silent spokes-spirits for our anti-plastics campaigns. Unmoving, yet they have moved countless of people into rethinking their disposable habits. I know that no matter how long I talk at presentations, these are the images that count.
Now as I write this from the middle of the forest, and only have 9% left on my computer battery, I need to ask you something important. The Midway Film Project is a documentary about these birds, plastic, and the problem with our throw-away culture. One that the world needs to see. If the pictures are worth more than a thousand words, think about a full film!
The Midway Film Project needs funding if it is to get to the masses. Please give what you can, knowing that your money will be well spent. Heck, go the distance, and take one plastic-wrapped item that you would have bought today, forego it if just this one time, and donate that money to the film.
The link to the trailer and piggy bank: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/midwayfilm/join-the-midway-film-project
And please share far and wide. Time is a tickin’. For the film fundraiser, us, my computer battery, and most importantly the albatrosses and other creatures. 4% left. Just enough time to donate myself.
Guess what?! Plastic-free baby on the way!
1. My first trimester was pretty darn easy. I know I can partly thank the 2.5 year cleanse I have been on through the plastic-free challenge. Worth every nausea-free morning. Been reading about that some, and while no one can really say why some women get sick and others don’t, there seems to be general consensus that a detox is advisable before egg meets sperm. I would certainly agree. To me it makes sense that you would feel better if you have nothing bad in you.
2. I do have aversions to certain things, notably mushrooms and…plastic. On the latter: Around 3 months, I had this crazy lunatic craving for 99-cent instant noodles and I sent Nino to buy some. Yep, totally and knowingly tried to cheat, but I paid for it. I ate the fake processed packaged crap and spent the rest of the night dry retching outside. Now, the sight of most plastic covered things make me so ill that I am gagging just thinking/writing about them. I guess it’s the next level of abhorrence.
Why is it that the second people leave their home, they become completely helpless and immediately cling to the crutch of convenience? Take a trip and witness.
Tip: Bring a reusable water bottle with you on the plane and fill it up at a restaurant or bathroom past the security gates.
It always perplexes me how many discarded, full plastic water bottles you see before the security gates. Why spend the money on crappy plastic-tasting water when you can bring your own? As I filled my glass bottle in the bathroom a woman stopped and remarked that it was a good idea. Well, yes, but it is so far from rocket science it is not even funny.
Tip: Bring a small vessel for filling with beverages from the airplane cart, should your water not suffice for your hydration needs.
We’ve all been there and gone through countless plastic cups in planes. Zero need for that waste.
Tip: Bring a sandwich or other such lunch instead of opting for the plane fare. Here is a comparison image of my vs. my dad’s lunch.
Let’s get a closer look at his sandwich:
And then his face upon receipt of said sandwich:
I like Iceland Air. Whilst not perfect, at least they don’t force feed you any over-wrapped food; should you choose to forfeit your chance to create less waste, you can pay for it. In this scenario, you realize that most people actually choose not to buy food, meaning they probably eat the free plane fare simply because it is there. An utterly outdated practice don’t you think?
Tip: Dress warmly.
Tip: Pack your own cutlery. And a few extras for your e.g. dad.
Tip: If you see this, run, and refuse to support the company who is so blatantly ruining the planet.
Sadly I only saw one good example of refusal behaviour during my miles in the sky and many hours in airports. It was this: Two men, presumably colleagues, bought beer and pretzels at the Munich airport. One man grabbed the pretzel from the bin, with his hand (wa wa wee wa!), and handed it to the other man. Imagine that! No plastic or other disposable item was involved in the exchange! No bag, no glove, no napkin, no cutlery. Then, the two men sat down and ate their pretzels.
I know you guys will get all this and perhaps be amused-saddened. But the world is so so large, with so many people limping out and about.
After I wrote this post I checked my global visitor stats for the past 30 days. The world may be a big place but together, with all our shares, we are conquering it one visit at a time What a beautiful thing.
# of views by country in the last 30 days:
Canada 1,072, United States 648, United Kingdom 162, Australia 134, Italy 131, Germany 106 (yay for naked pretzels!), Netherlands 97, India 90, Philippines 66, Turkey 62, Mexico 50, Brazil 44, Finland 43, Belgium 39, Romania 38, Hungary 36, Singapore 35, Norway 30, New Zealand 30, Portugal 30, Greece 30, Chile 29, Thailand 27, Slovakia 25, Sweden 23, Egypt 22, Russian Federation 21, Georgia 20, France 20, Spain 20, Switzerland 19, Croatia 16, Indonesia 15, Argentina 15, Bulgaria 14, Denmark 14, Israel 14, Taiwan 14, Ukraine 12, Czech Republic 11, Slovenia 11, Moldova 10, South Africa 10, Algeria 9, Malaysia 9, Colombia 9, Hong Kong 9, Morocco 8, Saudi Arabia 7, Poland 7, Viet Nam 7, Republic of Korea 7, Lithuania 7, Pakistan 6, Iraq 6, United Arab Emirates 6, Serbia 6, Ireland 5, Bangladesh 5, Estonia 5, Cyprus 5, Belarus 5, Austria 5, Kuwait 4, Costa Rica 4, Jordan 4, Macedonia 3, Peru 3, Malta 3, Venezuela 3, Fiji 3, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 3, Mauritius 3, Montenegro 2, Armenia 2, Lebanon 2, Dominica 2, Latvia 2, Mongolia 2, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2, Sri Lanka 2, Iceland 2, Qatar 2, United Republic of Tanzania 1, Syrian Arab Republic 1, Sudan 1, Myanmar 1, Nigeria 1, Japan 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Tunisia 1, Netherlands Antilles 1, San Marino 1, New Caledonia 1.