Not long ago, I listened to a certain “Living on Earth” radio broadcast with amazement. A woman was explaining how she made up her mind to live without plastics. She did not make the effort sound easy, but she did make me think of ways I might cut back.
The “Living on Earth” account begins,”We live in a plastic-filled world. It’s used in almost everything, from cars to chewing gum to prescription drug bottles. Five years ago, Beth Terry decided to stop consuming plastic and she’s survived to tell the tale. Host Bruce Gellerman talks with Terry about her new book, ‘Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.’ ”
Terry tells the host, “Five years ago, almost to the day, I stumbled across an article about the plastic pollution problem in the ocean. And what completely blew my mind, and broke my heart, was this photo I saw of a dead albatross chick on Midway Island, thousands of miles from civilization — halfway between the United States and Japan. And it was just the carcass; it was full of plastic pieces. Like the plastic that I used on an everyday basis — things like bottle caps, things that didn’t come from the middle of the Pacific Ocean — they came from us. I just had to change. …
“I didn’t commit to stop using the plastic I already had, first of all, and I don’t recommend that anybody go through their house and purge the plastic and throw it away, because that’s just so wasteful, I think. But when my computer broke and it couldn’t be fixed — my first step is always to try and fix things and make them last as long as possible — but, when it couldn’t be fixed, I looked on Craig’s List and I found a secondhand computer.”
My own worry about plastics is how unstable the components are and how chemicals may escape into the air we breathe and the water we drink. When plastics are heated, as in a microwave, they can be dangerous. Please use ceramic containers for warming food in your — er — plastic microwave.
Read more of Terry’s alternatives to buying new plastics at “Living on Earth.”
Photograph: Beth Terry, with the plastic she collected in the first half of 2007.