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My Constant Battle With Plastic

Everyone has their demons.  Mine seems to be plastic.

No, not credit cards.  Although I’ve had my share of issues with those in my younger days.  I mean the actual material, plastic.  It seems to be a running theme through some of my daily struggles – physical and ethical.

For example, JavaGirl and JavaBoy have a lot of toys.  And though I try to do a good job of culling through them seasonally and donating or consigning them as they outgrown them, it always seems like there are more toys than any of us have patience or space to manage.  Especially right around, oh, 5 pm.  So, I’ve been working on surreptitiously going through and boxing up some toys with the idea that if those toys aren’t noticed as “missing” in the next few months, they are GONE.  (I would like to note here, that my children actually ENJOY all their toys and will happily play with all of them and actually take pretty good care of all of them and do try to help put them away, but it is overwhelming even to me to put them away, so I can see why it gets to be overwhelming to them.)

So good-quality toys I’ve been putting into a large storage bin to go into the basement, some smaller toys that a lady in my church can use for Operation Shoebox at Christmas-time I set aside in a bag for her, but some things are so small or so junky (i.e. pinata toys, or maybe party favor toys, etc.) that eventually it’s time for them to be tossed and I was merrily doing so.

But THEN along will come something to guilt me out of my purging — like this video which was floating around Twitter last night.  And now I feel guilty for every piece of plastic that I may ever consider tossing (I recycle what is recyclable).   The video is from a great sharing site called Ted.com and it is called  The Seas of Plastic by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Wow.

So, I did finally remember to bring my reusable grocery bag into the store today.  AND I learned how to actually get my five cents credit per bag in the self-checkout lane at Giant.

But I cringe now as I try to purge the toys.   And I’m kind of mad, actually, as part of what I am purging is excess packaging — stupid packaging that makes it hard to store toys in a reasonable manner, or really, really dumb toys that come with kids meals at fast food restaurants.   Well, of course, the best choice is not to go to fast food restaurants, but let’s face it, sometimes that’s just what happens.  And often I choose not to get the full kids meal so I can avoid the toy, but the JavaKids are getting wise to that trick — almighty Marketing has started to reach them.  But I have to say that of all the restaurants, Chik-fil-A is the one who seems to have it the most figured out.  Often their giveaways are books or CDs — things the kids will actually use and keep around a while — and (something I didn’t know until another mom told me) — you can choose to exchange your unopened toy for an ice cream cone while you are there if you prefer.  Now, an ice cream cone doesn’t do much in terms of nutrition, but it does mean no more junky plastic at home.  I like that! 

I’m struggling with my purging, and noting the irony that I bought, yes, PLASTIC bins, to store a lot of the toys in to make it easier to keep things orderly.  But I can’t drown in the small plastic things at home, either, so I will continue to purge.   I do try to help by often buying used (a form of recycling) and passing on or selling items when we are done (another form of recycling), and recycling any packaging of new items.  We do use our plastic grocery bags for many things in the house and I’m trying to do a better job of remembering to bring in the reusable shopping bags.  I often will tell stores not to bag things when I have just one or two items — which still raises an eyebrow now and then, and THAT surprises me because I thought we were all in this “use fewer plastic bags” thing together?!

My other demon?  Paper.  And JavaBoy’s current obsession with construction paper love notes and “No Bears!” signs.  But that’s a post for another day.

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  1. […] if you ever needed a reason to try to do the right thing, just watch this Seas of Plastic video demonstrating firsthand the impact of all plastic bags on our […]

  2. […] keep a stash of plastic grocery bags in my car (yes, I also have my reusable ones) and use one for a “stuff that isn’t trash but doesn’t belong in my car” […]