Plastic: It’s Harmful, It’s Wasteful, It’s Everywhere

(picture by pixabay.com)

My adversion to waste started at a very young age. It was something ingrained in me as a child by my parents. While being potty trained I remember being taught 3 squares for #1, and 4 squares for #2. And don’t bunch up the toilet paper either, it won’t be used efficiently. Fold it. Paper towels only had one use: to wipe grease from the skillet. Using it to clean up a mess or to dry your hands was a HUGE no no! Food better not be thrown away either. Little children are to eat cut up apples slices because if you just give them an apple -most likely half of it will be thrown a way. On that note, there are certain ways to cut food up to ensure you aren’t wasting any parts. Canning food from our trees was no different either. Even the apple tree that had worms in every single apple were still canned. You just had to cut through every single slice around the part the worm had been in. I remember even finding maggots in the trash can because there was at one time raw meat in the trash but my dad dumped out the trash and kept the same trash bag so we could get more use out of one bag! Generally you only need to take the car somewhere if you have multiple places to go. And don’t even think about leaving a light on if you have left the room for a few minutes….I think you get the picture here. And many of these principles I still do in some version or another. “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a moto used in our home in more or less words.

Frugality is a good lesson to learn and it teaches you to appreciate what you have. My parents are  the King and Queen of this. But many of their principles are based around money not necessarily the cost to the environment. My awakening to living a more sustainable life started with my sophomore year of High School, from my body-smelling hippie biology teacher that I loved, who would talk to us about the Japanese principle of Wabi Sabi and the importance of reading books and about the destruction of the environment. Then the last 1/3 part of class we actually discussed biology. A year later I graduated early and bought my first book on how to “go green.” And my passion over the years for sustainability for the people, the animals and the planet has always been there since then, but based on situational circumstances my principles being practiced have at times been hard core and other times, not as much. I’m human right?

In college I was roommates with 5 other girls and daily our trash would have to be taken out. I couldn’t stand how much of our trash could be recycled or composted. So I would put all my recyclables in a pile and once a week walk from my apartment to the back of the grocery store and dump it in the proper recycling bins then do my grocery shopping. I didn’t have a car, but I couldn’t let all these things just get dumped. I’m now fortunate enough to live in California where there is easy access to recycling. My apartment has a dumpster just for recyclables and believe me, I use it. But recycling plastic it’s not good enough for me anymore. Recycling plastic is really downcycling. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade and turn back into soil. And when recycled it gets turned into a much harder plastic that won’t be able to be recycled again. So most plastics get one or two life spans. And that’s not all, they have horrible chemicals in them that are linked to imbalancing our hormones and are linked to certain cancers. I’m not just talking about BPA, which is a commonly known toxin people look out for in plastics. Plastic is not meant to be used over and over again. And many plastics are not properly put in the dumpster or recycled causing severe damage to our planet and animals.

Look around your house, almost everything was/is packaged in plastic or is plastic. I encourage you to read more about plastic here. And to educate yourself more on how wasteful and damaging it is.

All this being said, it doesn’t feel good enough for me to put plastic in a recycling bin anymore. There was life before plastic and in the history of mankind, it wasn’t that long ago that it didn’t even exist.

A Plastic Free Challenge for myself and for all who are interested! I am going to try to consume little, to no plastic items for two weeks starting March 26. I’m talking about predominately one-time-use plastic. I have containers made of plastic, my kids have toys with plastic, our car has plastic in it, so I’m not talking about stuff like that. I’m talking about plastics that have short lifespans and greatly reducing the type of plastic that doesn’t get multipe uses but gets used up quickly: grocery bags, straws, etc. Not consuming new plastic for the next two weeks. The challenge will be shared on my Facebook page which you can click on here: Simplicity In All Things where the community of everyone doing the challenge will be. I’ll be sharing tips this week on how to avoid new plastic to prepare us for the next two weeks and throughout the challenge I’ll be sharing my experiences and set backs. I hope that you will join me in the challenge and share your experience as well! It’s a starting point. And I hope it kick starts me (and hopefully you too) to use less and less of this manmade, non-biodegradable stuff.

 

Decluttering Toys

The first step in simplifying your life is to declutter. And a few weeks ago I had had it with how much my daughter’s toys were consuming our apartment! Not only was it scattered in her bedroom but our couches were lined with toys, our dining area had piles, and toys would even end up on our bed throughout the day. I have seen on Pinterest a lot of people who divide up the toys and put half away and rotate them out and I’ve always thought, “that’s not going to be my house, she won’t ever have that many toys.” Well guess what….it is my house! So that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I know some of you may laugh because the above picture is literally all the toys she has and for a lot of western world kids it’s not a lot, but it’s too much for me.

I few months earlier I had already gone through her toys and gotten rid of little silly items. To describe what I mean: like the equivalent of cheap toys from fast food restaurants, except not because we don’t get happy meals and things of that nature, but you get what I mean, right? So I didn’t have toys that I felt like I could get rid of at the time. My main piles were anything play-food related, stuffed animals and baby items, small toys/figurines, and crafts/puzzles. Once I made piles I divided into half within the piles. This I actually had my daughter help me with. If there were 4 in a pile I’d ask which 2 she’d want at the time and etc. I didn’t hide that I was putting the toys away. I did it right in front of her and had her be apart of it. I told her that anything going in the tub that she wants to play with later, we would have to swap all the toys. So far it’s been going really great! It’s been a lot easier for her to pick up her toys at the end of the day (because they all fit into 3 boxes that go on her shelf and a basket on the side of the shelf). And for the most part, the toys are staying in her bedroom which helps me to keep the rest of the house clutter free! No, let’s be honest…less cluttered!

Please share your tips on how you corral the toys at your house, I’d love more tips.