Random thoughts on sustainability

I wanted to title this ‘sustainability myths’, but then decided that I’m not sufficiently educated to be dropping supposed truths around. Not a scientist or anything. Just a woman with a whole lot of environmental anxiety and desire to do better in at least some areas. Here’s some thoughts on sustainability, then. I’m pretty sure more is coming.

Individual action is worthless

It will be if nobody does anything. There’s 8 billion of us. Even if 1/3 does something, it will be a huge improvement. An even bigger improvement will be actual policy, system changes, and leaving Jeff Bezos aimlessly floating in space.

Glass is better than plastic

It is if it is reused, and reused, and reused. And then reused some more. And then reused again. Glass is incredibly impactful to produce. It’s a little less impactful to recycle. The best course of action is – yeah – reusing it in a closed loop for as long as possible.

plastic is the least problematic thing in this photo

Plastic is the devil anyway

It’s not plastic, it’s the way we use it. We’re accustomed to treating pretty much anything made from plastic as disposable when in fact a lot of the things are quite durable and can be reused for long, long, long periods of time. Remember that dude with a vintage supermarket plastic bag? The article is from 2015, and at that point the bag was 34 years old, so now it’s what – 43?

(How come 2015 is 9 years ago, Jesus.)

My brother is apparently trying to give that grandpa a run for his money, because he reuses his supermarket bags all the time. Nowadays they aren’t as durable, though, and I hear they only last about a year and a half until they rip. It’s worse here, because the local ones are either paper or biodegradable plastic, which is very fragile. You can reuse it, but not for long. I designate most of mine as garbage bin liners.

But why am I fixating on plastic bags? Food containers. A lot of foods manufactured here, especially the ones that aren’t supposed to be preserved for a year or more, like hummus or marinated tofu, come in PP plastics. Well, most of the containers I bought for my lunches are also PP. Who’s to say I can’t use the hummus container to pack my pasta? No one, that’s who.

When I was younger and plastic straws were still de rigueur, my grandmother used to wash them. And we’d reuse them. As I’m still kicking, I suppose the practice wasn’t that detrimental to my health. I have stainless steel straws now because I am not a fan of bio plastic or paper, but I’d wager if I were to stumble upon a pack of plastic ones, I’d just wash them using the little brush that came with my stainless steel pack.

And then of course there’s the old plebeian custom of washing and reusing small baggies, like the Ikea ziploc ones. My friend left a couple the last time she was visiting – I’m still using them. I bought pasta in a plastic bag – I’ll use it to store bread, pack fruit, or freeze something. There’s still an ancient – I mean it, it’s like… 20+ years old – milk plastic bag kicking around the house somewhere – I think it holds reusable hankies. The only bags I don’t reuse are ones from meats and the very flimsy ones that one would pack veg in at the supermarket. The first one is unhygienic. You’d end up using more plastic on your hospital trip after you try to reuse that one. And the second one would require more energy to wash and reuse than to dispose of.

Turtles choke on plastic straws, stop using plastic

Turtles choke on things we pollute the oceans with. Said pollutants are not necessarily made from plastic. A cotton ribbon carelessly thrown into the ocean will be as deadly to a bird or a turtle as a piece of plastic. Same goes for a metal bottle topper. The answer to happy living turtles is not ‘ban plastic’, it’s ‘stop throwing shit into the oceans’.