Plastic-Free Life

[Fruits for a plastic-free life unite.]

Plastic-Free Life

I think I’m just one of those people that needs a mission.  This week I decided that if I’m ever going to even approach a Zero Waste Life, I need to find ways to buy things with less built-in waste.  The problem with that is I don’t have gobs of time to search the world for such items so why not coax the world into providing them for me?

I thought I might try something locally, like writing to my grocer and asking him/her to reduce single-use plastic usage and see if together we can’t make a small dent in some of this plastic craziness.

Here’s the letter if you want some ideas to do the same thing in your town:

Dear Mr. or Ms. Grocer:

Our world is awash in plastic — literally.  If you don’t believe me, you only have to google the Great Pacific garbage patch to see just how this 5-mile stretch of a plastic island is choking wildlife and suffocating the habitats and breeding grounds of the ocean dwellers.  Why should you care, you may be asking yourself now, since you are running a grocery store, not a marina, and how the heck does an ocean garbage patch affect you and your store anyway?

Well, allow me to share a bit of information.  The world uses about 4 trillion plastic bags a year while about 150 million tons of plastic is produced for single-use, and 8 million of those tons ends up in the ocean.  Holy crap of a waste stream, that’s a lot of plastic!

You, as the provider of food for the masses, are in a unique position.  The products you deem worthy of putting on your shelves are the ones people choose between to buy.  If you removed single-use plastic from the equation, there’d simply be less of it out in the world post-purchase.  I, and many others, would be thrilled if you were to remove the plastic from my zucchini and broccoli, from my squash and carrots, from my cauliflower and all the other veggies that have found themselves enmeshed in a prophylactic living situation.  

I don’t believe that wrapping vegetables in plastic improves the taste or quality of the product, and if it’s the possibility of contaminants — people do sometimes sneeze and cough when shopping — being transferred from person-to-product while the vegetables sit there, waiting for someone to purchase them, then you really don’t need to worry too much about that because:  a) everyone knows you need to wash your veggies before you eat them; and b) that’s what our immune systems are for.  Maybe I’m overstepping here, but perhaps you could just display things in the same manner they came into the world:  naked, the way God intended.

I understand there will be some people who prefer the plastic wrap, and for them — at least during this plastic phase-out period — you might want to leave a few bags around to collect the stray lemons and beets, and to catch the fish juice so it doesn’t drip all over the milk.  (Actually, I think we might always need to have some plastic around specifically for the drippy meat products because that just makes good sense.)  

For the rest of us, a few reusable bags for our vegetables would be great, allowing us to bag and bag again without waste, something we’d probably all willingly pay for if it meant one less turtle would end up with a straw stuck up its nose.  Oh, and speaking of straws, can you just eliminate those plastic ones and only sell reusable ones?  The turtles will be thrilled.

I know you have a lot on your plate and this seems like such small potatoes in comparison, but think about it.  As the provider of foodstuffs, you wield great power.  I just ask that you use it wisely. 

On behalf of the planet, I thank you for your kind consideration.

Need more convincing?  Consider this:  water and sunlight together cannot breakdown the currently used types of plastic, causing downstream water intake systems and wastewater treatment systems to actually become a dangerous to wildlife, spreading plastic particles a/k/a microplastic that much of water’s wildlife ingests, but cannot digest; to many micro plastics will ultimately kill the species that eats it.  Since we don’t have a solution to the waste stream yet, we need to work on the source.

Want to start a movement?  Write to your grocer and ask for a little help here.  Perhaps we can remove single-use plastics from our environment one grocery store at a time.  The turtles, and your children, will thank you.

pamlazos 5.10.19


About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in conservation, environment, environmental conservation, environmental effects, plastic bag, plastics, saving the world, single use plastic, Uncategorized, waste, water, water conservation, zero waste and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Plastic-Free Life

  1. Pingback: Plastic-Free Life Redux: A Story of Independence | Green Life Blue Water

  2. Love this letter! I just know we can cut down a big chunk of plastic waste if grocery stores simply did what Aldi does–you have to bring your own bags or buy their recycled bags. They still have plastic bags by the produce and meat, but not using bags for checking out is HUGE to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keep us updated. I’d like to know the kind of reaction you receive from your local grocers. I have my reusable bags in my trunk. There have been times I forget to bring them in but in my local markets we have the option of paper or plastic when bagging the groceries.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cath says:

    Love the letter, and I’ll be fascinated to know whether you get any responses.

    Local to us, some of our supermarkets are starting to listen. In one we have the option to use small paper bags for putting our fruit and veg in, another has just introduced paper carrier bags. It seems to be such a slow process though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ken Dowell says:

    So I’m heading out to a grocery store. I get in the car and after a couple blocks I remember that I forgot to bring bags. Should I turn around and go back? Do I have time? And then I think, what would Pam say if I came home with all my groceries in plastic bags? So I turn around and get the bags.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Oh my gosh, you’re my hero, Ken! And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this. I now keep them in the car although I still sometimes forget to bring them in, but at least they’re right outside!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan Scott says:

    Thanks Pam – I’m being more careful with how I buy these days. Many chain stores of fresh produce are heeding the call and there’s no reason why each of us can’t take our paper bags or reusable bags along to buy .. great letter to your grocer … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – we no longer offer one off plastic bags … but people will pay the tiny amount for one if they need a bag … though there are more reuseable bags around … but sadly they use plastic … it’s just doing a little in our own way. I try to buy loose fruit and veg … We need to keep at it though – cheers HIlary

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m with you on all of this. Fifty years ago there was only a small amount of plastic compared to the quantities being manufactured today. And things were fine 50 years ago. Most plastic nowadays is simply unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

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