Paper or plastic may seem like a trite question for many of you. You have made the switch from plastic shopping bags and water bottles, and proudly tote your own in your everyday travels. But look deeper. How prevalent is plastic in your life? Did you write with a plastic pen today? Did you purchase food in a plastic tray, wrapped in plastic, or with a plastic lid? Did you put on makeup or brush your teeth and notice what the product containers were made of? Did you blow dry your hair, grab an energy bar for lunch, or eat a container of yogurt? Did you chew gum? (Yes, gum.)
And did you ever really notice how ubiquitous plastic is in our lives? It's daunting - and scary. Sure, reusable bags and bottles are a great first step, but how about living plastic free? This week, the Holistic Moms Network hosted a Twitter Party with author and blogger Beth Terry, who is striving to do just that. Beth's journey started with an alarming awareness that we are all surrounded by plastic. She took on the challenge of refusing all new plastic in her life. That means not buying, accepting, or allowing anything with plastic. And that's no easy task.
Plastic bags alone are ever present. Americans use more than 380 billion of them each year - that's about 1,200 per person. Only about 2 percent of those are recycled. The rest wind up in garbages, landfills, and in our environment, including in our oceans. "Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil," reports Salon.com. Plastics are choking out wildlife and impacting our health and well-being. And plastics have found their way into virtually every corner of our lives. And into our bodies and our children. Chemical additives in plastics, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), have dangerous implications for our health and many of the ingredients in plastics "migrate, or leach, into the food and water they contain" according to the Environmental Working Group.
Outside of being overwhelmed and completely daunted by plastic's presence, what can we do? We can start with awareness and acknowledgement of all the places plastics are found. Once we identify them, we can take steps, along with Beth Terry, to refuse to invite them into our lives. Start with Beth's Plastic Free Guide online and find an action you can embrace. Let go of convenience and pack your own containers. Buy in bulk. Embrace natural cloths and fabrics. Compost, recycle, and reuse. Make choices that are healthier for you, for your family, and for the planet. Get inspired. And check out Beth's new book for ideas, resources, and motivation. Every action helps, even when the problem seems insurmountable.