Sunday, September 21, 2008

diagnosis: polymer anxiety



I love getting emails about plastic:

"hi kerry, i was at a small indian restaurant in inwood yesterday. we ate in the restaurant but they still served us in plastic...container and fork, etc. after our meal, i literally felt like i had consumed plastic. it was really gross. i wonder if there is any truth to that. like how plastic might appear solid, but we do consume trace amounts of it. would be interested in your thoughts"

my thoughts:
When we eat food that's served on plastic, or wrapped in plastic, or sucked up through a plastic straw we consume guilt with every bite and sip.

Even if you think you don't give a hoot about the environment, you are an intelligent person (yes you!) and at some level (subconsious, or if you've been reading this blog, conscious!) you realize that it's a destructive action. This gives the food a bitter aftertaste.

My diagnosis is polymer anxiety, and the best course of treatment is to use less plastic :)

Alan Weisman said it well in his book, The World Without Us:

"Plastic embodies our collective guilt over trashing the environment. Something about plastic feels uneasily permanent. The difference may have to do with what happens outside landfills, where a newspaper gets shredded by wind, cracks in sunlight, and dissolves in rain--if it doesn't burn first."

[Note: Alan goes on to explain newspapers don't biodegrade when they are buried in a landfill away from air and water. But that's a story for another blog. I recommend reading Alan's article Polymers are Forever.]

So my question to you, dear reader, is:

What is ONE THING you can do today to reduce your plastic guilt?

4 comments:

Ameet Maturu said...

hey kerry, thanks for addressing my question. i am planning to buy a set of bamboo utensils to carry with me when eating out.

i think though there is something to be said about hot food being served in plastic, that is more than just anxiety. any thoughts?

Lisa Sharp said...

I have given up using straws including when I'm out. I have really bad food allergies so I only feel safe eating at one place in my town and the only plastic at the meal is the straw so I love eating there! I don't feel guilty like the few times I eat fast food.

plasticfreela said...

Lisa have you thought about getting your own glass straw from GlassDharma? Just a thought. I love my glass straws and this would totally eliminate plastic from your eating out meal.

plasticfreela said...

Ameet,
Let me suggest the book "Exposed" by Mark Schapiro if you are interested in knowing more about some of the dangers of the chemicals in plastics. The long and the short of it is-yes hot food on many plastics make the chemicals leach out into the food.
Bamboo utensils is also an awesome idea!