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The myth of “disposability;” refuse all single-use plastic

January 29 2011 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

Many of us have weaned ourselves off our habit of accepting single-use plastic bags at stores. We've also made personal pledges to not accept single-use water bottles. But those two items are just the tip of the iceberg. The real, hard truth is that single-use plastic elements (forks, take-out containers, etc.) are everywhere. Why should we accept a plastic fork any easier than we take a plastic bag? I'm not sure how or why we are so adamant about eliminating one form of single-use plastics but not another, but I'm guessing the word "disposable" is at least part of the equation. This is what happens. We order a coffee in a paper cup and a plastic lid is slapped on. We order food to go, tell them "no bag please" and are then surprised to find ourselves walking away with a foam container in our hands. We ask for hot sauce and we're given too many servings and all in single-use plastic packaging. We, our culture, treat them as disposable. Somehow that is supposed to be OK.

If we use anything that's disposable we've failed.

Disposable goods are anything but disposable.

If we're given a fork and told "it's ok, it's compostable", let's take it home and throw it in the compost bin and see how long it takes. How many years will it take for that fork to break down in our backyard? That plastic salsa package may leave your hand in five minutes but chances are it's still going to exist... in a landfill or our oceans... for a very long time, perhaps forever. Here's the action. Refuse anything and everything that is disposable. Yes, that isn't anything close to easy and no it doesn't stop with plastics. All of us should make the connection that using disposable anything is failing. I've been told more than a few times that "reduce, reuse, recycle" is in order of priority. If we find ourselves recycling it's only because we've failed at reducing what we're using and then failed again at reusing that item. To recycle is to fail at the first two... it's not bad but it's certainly not something to boast about. I'm suggesting that we push "refuse" into that mix. There are a myriad of optionsfor us to make this work: reusable utensils and food containers, eating out less and bringing food from home, getting that next Starbucks in a ceramic mug rather than a paper cup, and the list goes on. We're inventive and resourceful people, let's figure it out. Let's not settle for buying into a disposable lifestyle.
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