Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 3- Not all Plastic is Bad, Right?

So, I've been asked by scores of people (ok, one person. Thanks Mom!) about why I am trying this plastic free year, what do I really hope to accomplish. My main goal is really to reduce the amount of extraneous plastic I consume. I don't dislike plastic, I really don't. I just don't think we need quite so much. I have lot of plastic in my house, this laptop is plastic, my phone is plastic, Will's X-box is plastic, I have plastic cups and serving ware, even my "snow shovel" is plastic. I'll get to the snow shovel thing later. In fact, I prefer my plastic cutting boards to my wood ones, they go in the dishwasher, and I don't have to worry about cutting raw chicken on them. So, really what am I hoping to accomplish?

I have always been very interested in food, where it comes from, how to cook it, and what becomes of the left overs. I grew up in southern California, and we always seemed to have really good fresh fruits and vegetables, there were times we would just lean over the fence to get lemons to make lemonade. In general, I adore farmers markets, and I have fond memories of getting bags and bags of avocados from friends who simply had too many. So with that in mind, why plastic? Why now?

Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. Where you able to really buy anything with no plastic? Probably not. Now we have all this new information about plastic degrading and what type of chemicals we are consuming. Will and I are trying to get those chemicals out of our personal food chain. The biggest culprit is probably BPA, which stands for Bisphenol-a. I've heard of this before, but mostly in conjunction with baby bottles. I honestly thought, oh it's some tactic to freak new moms out so they buy more expensive bottles. As it turns out, BPA has effects on hormone production as an endocrine disruptor. For a long time, the mantra, if you will, in terms of pollution and exposure has been "the solution to pollution is dilution". So BPA in trace amounts should be ok, right? Wrong. It turns out that very low levels have much greater effects on hormones then anyone previously thought. So, if Will and I are trying to reduce the amount of hormones in our everyday foods, removing BPA is a natural step. We are also attempting to remove high-fructose corn syrup from our diet. So in terms of foods, we are trying to get rid of plastics. And honestly, with a little forethought, it's really not that hard to shop for plastic free food. Of course, I haven't had to buy cheese yet. But I have a plan for that.

The second portion of the plan has to do with the oceanic garbage patches, one of the best known ones is the North Pacific Gyre. This is an area the size of Texas where trash just collects and collects. Plastic does not biodegrade, it does degrade due to light, so even as it breaks smaller and smaller, it remains plastic. I have a few biologist friends that I'm sure might be able to give you more detail on the patch, but let me tell you, I  have driven from El Paso to San Antonio. It takes 8 hours, and that is half the state. So just imagine a huge dump in the middle of the sea that would take you 16 hours to drive at 85mph across. I would like to stop contributing to that. Katie or E if you have anything to add to this, please do.

So ultimately, I would like to eat cleaner and be cleaner. That is the goal of this project. If I can inspire someone else to use less bags and plastic, that will be a huge plus.

And now for something rather amusing:
I mentioned my "snow shovel" earlier, it isn't really a snow shovel. Last week we had a pretty big storm that dropped 5-7 inches of snow on us. So the next morning, Will and I got up to dig the cars out. I have an ice scraper, but that wasn't going to meet muster, so I brought out one of my big plastic mixing bowls and dug my car out with that. It worked pretty well, and I'm sure I looked silly. But hey, I was snowed in. That's what I had to do. So as you can see, I'm not totally against plastic.

BPA Info

Oceanic Garbage Patch

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