Pass on the Plastic: Save the Planet

I stopped into a small local store recently, The Paper Pedlar. After being in the gift-wrap business since 1950, the owners are retiring and everything was 70% off. There wasn’t much left to buy but I found some boxes of taper candles, a couple rolls of wrapping paper, glider planes, pens, and eraser party favors for the grands, and a nice wicker basket that I’m sure I’ll find some use for.

I’m always a bit sad when a local store closes and this one is no exception. It’s been a reliable go-to for gift wrap, sold at a discount; paper party goods, stationery items, and gifts. I’m even sadder that the historic building is being razed, along with a few of its neighbors, for a Wawa market.

I think the owners may have tried to sell the business if they weren’t being forced out. It’s successful, convenient, and they were ever so helpful. I don’t quite understand the need for another market, as there’s a Shop-Rite next door.

Wandering around the near-empty store, I remembered the many parties where I carefully selected colorful paper plates, napkins, and plastic ware. My basement still holds many leftovers. I resisted buying more.

I’m trying to move away from single-use products. I ordered reusable mesh bags for produce and bring my own bags to the market. I have plenty of cloth napkins so they can replace paper. I’m trying but don’t feel it’s nearly enough. So many foods come shrink-wrapped, or atop unrecyclable Styrofoam trays. So many non-food items come triple wrapped in plastic difficult to remove.

Remember The Graduate, the 1967 movie, starring a young Dustin Hoffman playing a recent college graduate, Benjamin Braddock. He’s given this advice:

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it….

 There’s very little in our daily lives that doesn’t involve something plastic. And we’ve created a monster. Our reliance on plastics has pervaded the environment; many types aren’t recyclable. The story about a dead whale found with 80 pounds of plastic in its stomach should scare us all.

Last week, teenagers around the globe participated in a strike to draw attention to climate change and the environment. We haven’t been very good stewards of the Earth; I’m worried about the planet I’m leaving my grandchildren and their children. Thankfully these teenagers are taking action where world leaders have failed. Earth Day is next month. Let’s act.

 

 

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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5 Responses to Pass on the Plastic: Save the Planet

  1. jfrances40 says:

    Yes, like many things….we go overboard. We have indeed created a monster. Many countries and other states are leading the way to reverse the damage. But no more time to waste. Thanks for sharing your efforts, Lisa. It all counts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. danamaria108 says:

    Talk about alignment; I was just having a conversation with my friend about the whale, the plastic ( and how we are really trying to use as little as possible) and the Paper Pedlar; I was also so sorry to see it go…xoxox

    dana maria cilento spirituality made accessible Yoga, Meditation, Spiritual Guidance, RetreatsE-RYT500, YACEP Certified Life-Cycle Celebrantmedia:@accessiblespiritualitywww.accessiblespirituality.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Letty Sue Albert says:

    The US has come late to the table on this issue. I have been taking my own bags with me for years when doing a shop and Francesca, after returning from Moscow, said that I reminded her of a Russian babushka who always has her own bags. However, she too is now doing the same. One independent supermarket in North London has gone almost plastic free and only sells loose fruit and vegetables. We can reverse the situation but it does take some effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stores used to give 5cents back per bag if people brought their own. Then they stopped so people stopped bringing their own bags. Our mothers and grandmothers never had so much plastic. Meat came wrapped in paper and string; they used glass jars, etc.

    Like

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