Tag Archives: convenience

Plastic Landmines and Family Time

I've started a Plog (plastic log) on my phone to track all the times I use plastic and defy the rules I've set out to follow. I think of them as plastic land mines. They happen when I least expect it. Things got kind of ugly last week while I was visiting my family in Atlanta.

Here's the usage breakdown: 1 bag, 1 salad container, 2 forks, 3 dressing packets and a straw.

There's a few things to watch out for in the anti plastic crusade. Things people hand to you when you least expect it and walk away before you can give it back.

The following items sneak up on you, even when you are trying to be fully aware of your plastic usage:

  1. Salad Dressing containers
    remedy: ask to share a salad dressing with someone else or just have them put it directly on the salad (usually half as much as they normally would think to use)
  2. Plastic forks
    Remedy: this is definitely out of the ordinary, but carry a fork around. I'm going to start carrying a fold-up fork / spoon / knife combo (if I can find it…I was saving it for a camping trip).
  3. Straws
    Remedy: ask for no straw, or have a metal or reusible straw on hand.
  4. Plastic bags
    Remedy: double check that you have your reusable bags. Carry things in your hand.
  5. Styrofoam cups
    Remedy: bring your own mug / cup
  6. plastic lids
    Remedy: ask for no lid or bring your own mug / cup
  7. plastic cups
    Remedy: ask for a real cup or bring a travel water bottle
  8. Styrofoam and plastic to-go containers
    Remedy: order smaller portions or share a meal if you are eating out.

The easy remedy for all of this stuff is just don't eat out or eat fast food. When you do, ask before you order and clarify you are getting reusable materials. Remember that waiters are working for your tip and are glad to accommodate you.

I am totally fine with cutting out fast food. That stuff nasty anyways. Mmm hmmm.

Artist Toge-nyc crafts a plastic utensil dragon

It was a tough week in the fight against plastic, being in a group of people who offer to buy me things on the reg. But all hope is not lost. When someone says it's impossible to live without using plastic, remember that just means it takes a little planning and persistence.


Flying Without Plastic

Some people go to extremes to stay true to their beliefs, like this ultra orthodox Jew flying in a plastic bag.

Orthodox Jew flying in plastic


I have utmost respect for people who put their traditions and beliefs before comforts and social norms, but realize sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

With my pledge to live without the convenience of plastic containers, wraps and bags for the next year, I am still formulating my rules. All the while I am following a mantra that stays true. The mantra will guide me in my decisions. If the plastic I am considering using is not intended to last and be useful to me for a long period of time, then I should not consume it. However, obviously if I’m in a situation where there are extreme risks, I’ll bend these rules. Maybe even light risks. I’ll figure it out when I get there. A potential example could be: buying a fresh bottle of water in Peru vs filling up my canteen in a sink. I really hate South American stomach sickness aka Montezuma’s Revenge.

During a flight about a month ago to Norway, before taking the year without plastic pledge, I chose to decline all in-flight goods due to the ridiculousness of the products and trash they generate. However, on the return flight from Norway, I couldn’t resist the Biscoff cookies, and then went for a drink as well. In fact, I had coffee and tea. And pretzels. And an inflight meal. Why not? I’m flying, am mildly discomforted, and I need to have small moments of sweet and salty happiness. I found myself using about 6 different plastic and styrofoam cups throughout the trip. And then the stewardess comes around and dumps everything into trash bags. Out of sight, out of mind. Just like the rest of our lives in modern society, someone else comes along and cleans up our mess, and we never see it again. People pay good money to never have to worry about any of their actions.

This past weekend, I took my first flight after embarking on the Year Without Plastic. On my recent flight from Boston to Atlanta,  I  successfully resisted all the temptations. No ginger ale, pretzels, peanuts, coffee, tea or Biscoff cookies (I’ll miss you dearly!)Biscoff Cookies and delta

Can you spend 10-20 minutes to eat a meal before your flight or prepare some in flight food in a container that will not be immediately thrown into a landfill? Can you handle the feeling of slight hunger as you forego the plane food? I’ll admit, we are not used to such constraints in the US. If we are even the slightest bit hungry, we eat. If there’s no food, we complain. We get angry. As a remedy to all these problems that we think we have, all it takes is a little planning.

The End of Convenience

The end of convenience in modern society may sound scary. No more 7 11's…no more take out boxes…no more all-in-one trash bins. Nevertheless, it is a choice we must make, to limit our modern conveniences, if we wish to live a responsible and sustainable life.

It's not convenient to recycle. It's not convenient to bring your own container to the store. It's not convenient to take the stairs as opposed to the elevator. There's hundreds of decisions we make every day that are based on convenience, and many of these convenient choices are putting our world and society in a worse state than it was when we arrived.

Try riding a bike instead of driving. Pack your lunch instead of getting take out. Carry your empty plastic water bottle in your bag until you can recycle it. Better yet, always have a reusable water bottle and travel coffee mug so you don't ever use plastic bottles or styrofoam cups. I could go on and on about sacrificing conveniences in order to make our society, our money and our health more sustainable, but you get the idea. Now it's time to practice what I preach and take the stairs up to the 5th floor of my apartment instead of riding the elevator #already #wheezing.

Today I made a critical early decision in the year without plastic. I turned down a bag of bagels my room mate offered to buy and share, because they come in a plastic bag. The quick and convenient solution to getting bagels is to say, "yes pick me up a bag". The very inconvenient solution is to go to the bakery and bring a container from home to put the bagels in. How awkward and inconvenient that interaction will be. I am looking forward to it. I look at it as a social experiment on convenience and the acceptance of environmentally friendly choices.