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Hubby sometimes tracks the floating plastic mass the size of a small continent in the Pacific Ocean. No one knows what to do about it or how to clean it up. I have an idea. They could heat it so it all sticks together, cover it with dirt, plant a few trees, put a milk cow or two plus chickens there, and raise crops. A floating island of plastic supporting people and wildlife drifting in the ocean sounds fascinating. Also sounds like an idea for a book.

The floating plastic brought up how the world has changed since we were first married. Back then, grocery sacks were paper and used to line trash cans, cover text books, wrap packages for mailing, make patterns, and other assorted uses. Most things came in a box, a can, or a glass container. We bought liters of Sprite in glass bottles, that we returned when they were empty. Plastic sacks were mainly around sliced bread (a relatively new invention at that time). Those plastic bread sacks were used like Ziploc bags are used today, for odds-and-ends storage, for food storage, and for putting over our feet in leaky snow boots. It wasn’t called recycling then; it was just how things were done.

It can’t be denied: using recyclable materials went out of vogue with the Boomer generation. Too many of us climbed trees and protested chopping them down to make paper products. Manufacturers started using plastic to avoid criticism about being ecologically insensitive and because it was cheaper. Now everything is packaged in plastic. One of the worst things we did was start selling water in plastic bottles. Bottled water has become as much of a staple as flour and sugar. Hence, our plastic island floating in the Pacific.

How to turn this plastic boat around and steam back toward recyclable packaging will be tricky, if not impossible. First we need to educate people that trees are a renewable resource. Sure, old growth stands should be preserved, but there’s lots of timber that could be harvested and turned into recyclable packaging. Cut a tree; plant a tree. Plus, forest management might cut down on the wildfires that destroy the trees that people got so up-in-arms to save. I’m not sure you could sell water in paper cartons, and I’m very sure you couldn’t get people to do what we did in the olden days, carry a jug of water and paper cups around with them. But there’s bound to be a good inventor somewhere that could come up with a solution.

Hubby and I try to recycle as much as we can. Our city has a good recycling program that was much bigger when China still accepted the US mountains of plastic. We do our part in getting rid of plastic bags by taking reusable grocery sacks to the store. We carry large bottles of water and refill them a time or two before discarding. For Christmas, I got metal straws with a cleaning brush. Not that that my using a few straws matters all that much, but I’m ready in case an anti-straw majority moves to Idaho and passes a law that prohibits them.

Help the world out and recycle, y’all!

One Response

  1. Lots of truth here. I have a pantry full of plastic grocery bags. I use them for other purposes so often that once a year, I run out. It’s “sort of” recycling in that I use them at least twice; but still, I know they eventually end up in a giant garbage pile nearby. Meanwhile, we’re collecting reusable shopping bags because that’ll be the next law to pass. The straw issue will be tougher for sure.

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