It has been one month since my son and I started collecting plastic bags (and straws). Regardless of if we are able to make a hot air balloon at the end of this, this exercise has been so important for our family’s understanding of our contribution to the problem and solution! We have been able to take an inventory and we are forced to see the problem in every part of our day. From this, we are very slowly making efforts to transition toward a zero waste lifestyle. In just four weeks our knowledge of the current situation, the challenges, and opportunities for us to contribute to an improved situation has grown tremendously. I am hearing from other parents at my son’s school that their kids are talking about plastic and the environment (since they have been collecting their ziplock bags from lunches and snacks each day), and the parents are communicating that they are becoming aware from the conversations with their children. These conversations on the environment have led to conversations
on modern lifestyles, gender, race, and class. The conversation is so complex. It is reminding me about mindfulness in understanding and communication of this problem from many vintages. I am becoming more interested in attempting to pursue conversations at a higher level, at least locally, to argue for local businesses to assist the whole community with small steps to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we take and use or simply waste. Information on the bag count: 403 pieces in total
- The Ziplock Bags: are exclusively from my son’s school – class lunches and snacks. The methodology isn’t strict so I am unsure of the number of students this reflects, however, the class(es) produced about 150 bags in less than 4 weeks. If this number reflects the year, the count will be 1800 bags for 12 months of lunches and snacks.
- Our home bags: Our family stopped using ziplock bags many years ago, and we very rarely take plastic grocery bags, so I thought we would be pretty good . . . BUT I never realized just how many other plastic bags are in our life . . .bread, cereal, pretzels, chips, meat, deli, fish, everything!! This count does not include the bags that contained really messy items,
like meat and sauce based items. After the first week, we started only using paper bags in the bulk section and avoiding plastic packaging when and where possible – NOT EASY AT ALL! Sometimes you think you are buying something in just cardboard then get home and inside there is plastic, ugg!! We switched to bamboo straws and began packing the car
with utensils, cups, and reusable takeaway containers when we travel. I believe the number of use in our life is much, much higher than this count since we didn’t collect everything and were not meticulous.
- Grocery Bags: I received 2-3 decent size grocery bag contributions. Thus, from just 3-4
people I collected nearly 170 bags in a month!
- Straws: We switched to bamboo straws and weren’t great about grabbing our straws from
our eat-out experiences, so the number of straws that we collected does not reflect out use.
By Kathleen Nasti