Credit: Flickr / stopnlook

Diane takes a good hard look at her plastic addiction and takes Step 1: Surrender 

Last week I wrote about how Chris Jordan’s Midway Journey had affected me. But after mourning for a while, I realized simply being sad wasn’t going to change anything.

What will change things is cutting down on our wasteful use of plastics. A goal that sounds simple in concept, but turns out to be almost overwhelming in practice.

As a culture we use a lot of plastic—plastic bags alone account for nearly nine kilos in waste per family each year. Then there are all those juice bottles, milk jugs, condiment jars and Ziploc bags in my kitchen and the toys, trinkets, appliances and packaging in the rest of my home. Plastic is so ubiquitous it’s easy to underestimate just how much of the stuff we use.

Seriously, spend an hour doing normal activities in your home and see how many times your hand touches plastic.


The plastic problem

Beyond the fact that we’re turning our ocean into a deadly plastic soup, we know that plastic requires a lot of energy to produce. In fact, it’s estimated that 4 percent of all US energy use is for the production of plastics.

And we’ve been shown that plastic contains chemicals that can be harmful to us—even food packaging contains toxins such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.

We also know that we suck at recycling the stuff. One US statistic says we are only recycling about 6.8 percent of the plastic we toss out each year.

And we have recently learned that trying to make plastic safer or more biodegradable isn’t yet working—and that our efforts may even be making things worse.

But, like all addictions, simply knowing that plastic is killing us doesn’t make it any easier to give up.

“Hello, my name is Diane, and I’m addicted to plastic”

As far as I know there are no 12-step programs for giving up plastic. If there were I would have to stand up and say, “Hello, my name is Diane, and I’m addicted to plastic. I have four different types of Ziploc bags in my kitchen, and the idea of having to give them up forever seems impossible.”

When I went searching for support to kick my plastic addiction I was shocked by how little I found. There was plenty on how to be better at recycling the stuff, but I couldn’t find a single list that gave me “10 easy ways to give up plastic.”

So I guess I’m on my own… If you have any tips, let me know.


Notes from Week 1:


1)    Gum comes in plastic. It probably isn’t good for me anyway.

2)    Bulk food buying saves some packaging. But I need to remember to bring my own containers and (clean) used plastic bags (or mesh bags).

3)    Not sure what to do about being out of shampoo. Looking a bit dishevelled until I decide.