Plastic-Free Life Redux: A Story of Independence

[4th of July fireworks over Lancaster]

Plastic-Free Life Redux: A Story of Independence

A couple months ago I sent a letter to the four biggest local grocery stores in my area, espousing the benefits of removing single-use plastic packaging from their myriad array of fresh vegetables. I wasn’t asking them to literally change their whole operating strategy, but to just quit wrapping things that don’t need it in plastic, and to provide reusable bags for the veggies we may want to buy loose, but not too loose; we don’t want them rolling around in our carts and we don’t want to have to put them in paper and contribute to further deforestation of the planet since decimating old growth forests may be even worse than disposing of single-use plastics.

Before I tell you what happened, let me just say that I read a completely unnerving statistic the other day, that is, only two out of ten people consider themselves environmentalists – a mere 20%.  Now maybe it’s me, but we’re in the midst of a sixth global extinction where dozens of species die off daily — up to 1,000 times the background rate as a result of human activity — and yet, only 20% of the population is tuned into that. Por que? Por qua? Say what?! Exsqueeze me?

Does that mean we’re going to blow up in a final brilliant conflagration of CO2 and methane igniting from the spark of some poor bastards e-cig?  And if we’re trying to change the world, is 20% even enough to change anyone’s mind?

Actually, it’s quite possibly as Greg Braden points out in his book, The Isaiah Effect. We only need 1% of a given population to work toward an imagined end in order to change the dynamics in any given area.  But, and it’s a big but, we’re going to need to need more than one percent if we are to not just curtail, but reverse the growing crisis that is climate change.

Anyway, back to the grocery store. Weeks went by and since no responses were forthcoming, I figured it was time for another round of letter writing, and then — a Christmas miracle — I got an email from the assistant manager at Wegmans (located in seven states and growing!), a lovely woman who was happy to report on all that Wegmans was doing in service to the environment.

For example:

— they got rid of plastic straws and just have paper straws now;

— they’ve reduced the amount of seafood arriving in foam containers;

— their uniform shirts are made partially from recycled plastic;

— they are “passionate” about sustainability;

— they have replaced their single-use plastic in NYC (which banned it) with reusable packaging or paper bags;

— they sponsor an event on earth day where you could trade your old single-use plastic bags in for a reusable one; and

— at the front door of every store they have recycling bins for plastic bags, cellphones and batteries.

Pretty impressive, huh? There were other things Wegmans was doing, but I couldn’t write them all down fast enough so this is just a partial list. Anywho — it appears that Wegman’s is on it and getting better everyday so maybe this cultural reconstruction project will be an easier lift then I thought.

What can you do to be cool like Wegmans?   We can all start with a look at our daily consumption of goods and services. By taking a waste-light approach to life we can have an impact on lessening our waste stream, and ultimately, the effects of climate change. Reducing at the source by looking at how we eat, what we shop for, and where we live, to name a few, will give us the freedom of sustainability, allowing us to be truly independent from the tyranny of a waste-filled life.

pam lazos 7.21.19

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in climate change, plastic bag, plastics, recycling, sixth extinction, Sustainability, Uncategorized, waste, waste as a resource and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Plastic-Free Life Redux: A Story of Independence

  1. Hooray! I forget if I mentioned this, probably already did, but I’m surprised more stores don’t do what Aldi does: require shoppers bring their own bags. Aldi has neither paper nor plastic bags, only reusable ones you can purchase. I’m sure that’d be a budget win for other chain stores, wouldn’t it? And it’d be an environment win, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jkaybay says:

    Thanks (on behalf of the planet) for your persistence, Pam!
    I think it’s true that even if a small number of people push for change, then others will follow suit once the trend takes off (whether it’s reusable shopping bags and coffee cups, biking to work, plant-based diets, etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Now you have me all pumped up and I am going to write to my store which is owned by Kroger. I don’t know how they are actually viewed or measure up to other large companies but we’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Daniel T. Gallo, Jr. says:

    Great article Pam! Thank you for writing it and sharing it. Dan

    Liked by 2 people

  5. calensariel says:

    Excellent post! A virtual “how-to” to less plastic. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on A Thousand Finds and commented:
    For my reblog Tuesday, I’m sharing this blog from Pam Lazos, author, lawyer, and environmentalist, about her efforts to reduce plastic in her life. Wegman’s deserves kudos for what they are doing; hopefully other store chains will follow suit!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ally Bean says:

    Wegman’s is known for being on top of things. I’m glad that they responded back to you. There are none near where we live, but I suspect that other smart grocery stores will catch onto how they can help reduce plastic overconsumption. Interesting issue here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ken Dowell says:

    Guess I know where you’ll be buying groceries from now on.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – I can believe the 20 percent … sadly people aren’t interested in knowing much – or even wanting to know much. It is setting examples, being polite and being open and many more things – life/news is ‘interesting’ at the moment with all things going on … frightening – e.g. Iran …

    I so agree with Jacqui re water bottles – hate them! Regrettably I do buy them – but rarely, very rarely …

    We can all do more … we can all look at ourselves and do more … but great you’ve had some response – now you can niggle the rest for a reply – good luck … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Catwoods says:

    Interesting post, Pam! It’s encouraging to read about the Wegman’s store, I wish we had them here.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. cath says:

    Little steps, maybe, but they’re in the right direction. What good news, and you’re right, Pam, we have to keep questioning our life-styles. Nice post.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Well done Pam. Don’t lose hope – after all, that’s the bigger part of what Gregg is saying. We are single use plastic free in all supermarkets now – but they still do really silly things like trying to sell cucumbers wrapped in plastic. Say what?? 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Advice to reduce our “carbon footprints” is missing an issue that, if anyone has mentioned it, I didn’t hear about–processed food. Think about all the energy that goes into making potato chips, for example, plus the packaging, transportation, etc. Or cookies, candy bars, frozen dinners, any convenience food. My goodness! if each of us bought less junk food, we might earn our plastic straws back (that is, if we really want them).

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I am always shocked by how many people use plastic bottled water. Like it’s OK–it’s the straws that are the problem. No, start with plastic bottles. It’s not that hard to bring one and reuse it!

    Kudos to you for your effort!

    Liked by 4 people

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