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I recently moved. Not far, just across town, yet everything I own was uprooted, sifted and sorted. As I packed and organized, as I generated trash and recyclables in various forms, I noticed there was plastic everywhere.
Plastic has become an integral part of our modern day existence, an undeniable convenience. There are endless uses of plastic in appliances, vehicles, packaging, toys, clothing, electronics even heart valves! As amazing and versatile as plastic is, the thought of it still makes me cringe. It is toxic, it encourages the use of petroleum products and it never breaks down completely. According to UrbanImpact.com, “when plastics are thrown into the landfill or into the water, they don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits. These bits contaminate our soil and our waterways.” With the rising awareness of the impact of these synthetic polymers on our precious ecosystem, I regularly ask myself, “How can I be more responsible with my use of plastic?”
My work as a sculptor and a painter finds me responsible for the many tools of my trade. Over the years I have always made room for them, housed them, stored them, cared for them. Specialty tools, basic hand tools, tools have I designed or built. My pantry filled with boxes, bottles and jars of powders, liquids and sprays. I have pounds of clay and wax, pots of paint, drills, hammers, wrenches, rulers, scales and other tools of measure. Many of the tools are made with plastic and many of them stored in plastic.
My favorite way of storing these treasures, these tools of creativity, are in tall, rolling, steel toolboxes. The kind you see in a mechanics shop or possibly your own garage. As much as I love these rugged, well-designed units, not everything fits in them and they are not easily transported. So, I turn to plastic, rigid plastic tubs and trunks in various sizes, some of which I have had for more than 20 years. Durable, stackable, sturdy and waterproof they play a critical role in corralling many of my things.
Researchers and scientists are studying the impact of plastic on the health of the planet and all of us living here. There is a vibrant conversation alive in our world today about natural, Earth-friendly alternatives and a growing number of resources to educate us about the value of recycling. The Environmental Protection Agency, here in the United States, offers a comprehensive website, www.epa.gov/recycle. In addition, try googling “recycling” and the name of your town, you may be surprised what there is to learn. Heart-centered people are stepping up. People committed to providing services to support us in the care of our Earth. Social media is a valuable resource for ideas and information. People share their personal practices and insights as well as what they learn from others.
My invitation in writing this article is to ask us all to think carefully about the choices we make around our use of plastic and keep an eye open for alternatives. Can we make choices that do not include plastic? When we purchase something wrapped in plastic, are we recycling, reusing or repurposing?
There is much to learn about this incredibly convenient yet potentially harmful material. As we begin to take responsibility for the impact of our choices on the environment, as we educate ourselves about the alternatives available, here are 3 simple steps we can take today to create a positive impact:
•Recycle soft plastic grocery bags along with plastic paper towel and toilet paper packaging. Many non-food soft plastic wraps are also recyclable. Receptacles for these soft plastics can be found at most grocery stores and other large retailers.
•Remember to bring your reusable grocery bags when you go shopping. And reward yourself each time you do.
•Seek out alternatives to plastics containers. Consider stainless steel or glass.
Small acts, consciously chosen, add up to great things. Our awareness expands and new habits are created. We are clever beyond measure. We are wildly creative. Ours is a changing world and we are the key to making change happen. Namaste.
Below are more resources about recycling plastics. Please add your ideas in the comments below. Thank you!
Sedona, AZ Sedona Recycles
Mahopac, NY Recycling Guide