The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
January 14, 2009

Sweet Plastic Birthday Present

Last Wednesday was my birthday. I took off from work and wandered around San Francisco, thinking, dreaming, planning…

Somehow I ended up in a gift shop on Union Street called The Enchanted Crystal. It’s my boss’s favorite place to hang out in the whole world… overflowing with shiny, sparkly, pretty stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. And no dust in sight.

I wasn’t really shopping. There was nothing I needed to buy, although I did end up with a gift for my mom, whose birthday is this Thursday, and a tiny embroidered credit card wallet for myself… something my friends have been urging me to get since I usually just shove my ID and credit cards and money into my pockets loose and hope nothing gets lost.

The point is that I was attracted to the shop by the pretty colors and was just enjoying being there without the need to acquire, when the shopkeeper engaged me in conversation. We chatted about this and that, and I let slip that it was my birthday. He held out his hand and told me he had a birthday gift for me. And there it was… a sweet little red heart, almost as hard as a polished stone, but molded from plastic.

I thanked him and put the heart in my pocket. And there it will live. A daily reminder that plastic is not the enemy. It’s just one of the materials of the world. Problematic, to be sure. And something I routinely avoid. But in this case, this little plastic heart represents love from one human being to another. I put my hand in my pocket, squeeze the little man-made heart, composed of a substance that doesn’t naturally occur, and realize that the heart in my chest is connected to even this.

Is that a cheesy sentiment? Maybe so, but I’m going to need to remind myself of it today at my office birthday party, where there will surely be some type of plastic, and this weekend while I’m in Hawaii visiting my family. I’m trying to finding a ways to love people and principles at the same time, holding none of them too loosely or tightly. Life is one challenge after another, isn’t it?
 

16 comments
Allie
Allie

What a beautiful post!Happy Belated Birthday!

Ashley
Ashley

I LOVE this story. This is something everyone needs to do. Often times, one can become the very thing they're against through even the simplest intent. Being able to accept the plastic heart (human being/idea/religion/etc) despite your own beliefs and preferences is the greatest thing you can do. You should never hate or detest. I think the little plastic heart is very symbolic.

daharja
daharja

Happy birthday.I think apathy is the enemy, not plastic. We need to learn to give a damn, pardon my language.Its only when we begin to see ourselves as part of a chain and not the end and apex of everything that we will learn to live sustainably.Just my 2c. But I'll give you a cyber-heart in your imagination for all the wonderful caring striving work you're doing for our beautiful world. If anyone deserves a heart, it's you.

Robj98168
Robj98168

Happy Birthday To Beth- Dont worry about plastic in Hawaii- I hear they serve Pina Coladas and Mai tai's in earth friendly hollowed out Pineapples- just make sure they give you a paper umbrella!

everydaytrash.com
everydaytrash.com

What a sweet encounter, thanks for sharing and happy birthday!Leila

kale for sale
kale for sale

I loved this post because it reminds me the world is not black and white but so many lovely shades of gray. Happy Belated Birthday. PS: Per the comments I'm glad I'm not the only one that asks, what would Beth do?.

eeemily
eeemily

that is a very sweet story. i love how life can suddenly show us meaningful reflections sometimes! thanks for your blog, i visit often and appreciate the info!

Martin
Martin

I love you even though you song-tagged me with 38 SpecialHappy Birthday :)

Clif
Clif

I think the problem with plastic is not primarily the qualities of the thing in itself but our treating it as a throw-away. We dump plastic like we dump food scraps.In our thinking - if something is cheap or even "worth"less then we toss it. Many of the problems with plastic in the environment would not be a problem if it were much more expensive. Imagine handing down plasticware from generation to generation as you would fine china! If people saw plastic on the street they would rush to grab it as we would if we saw a twenty dollar bill.So, we have to constantly keep in mind that the plastic we throw out, including that of which the PC's we are using to post here, will easily be around long after everyone contributing to this blog is gone.What a terrible toxic legacy to pass on to the earth and its creatures (humans included) that has given us everything we enjoy!Think of yourself standing meekly before St. Peter (I'm an atheist but I love religious imagery):St. Pete: "why did you do it?"DP (dead person): "because it was convenient"St. Pete: "To the nether regions with you where you will forever breath the fumes of each and every piece of plastic you threw away as it is burned before you!"Don't say you weren't warned.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Happy, Happy Birthday Beth! I enjoy your blog so much and look forward to looking for new posts each day. I should add, sorry to be preachy in my last feedback to you on egg safety. No I am not your father. ;-) I wish my health issues would resolve such that I do not need to be so concerned about food contents. I am learning so much more than I realized about packaging from you. Warm Regards.Elle

Lisa Sharp
Lisa Sharp

Happy late Birthday!!Green Resolutions, I do the same thing! hahaWe should make bracelets "WWBD" haha.

Green Resolutions
Green Resolutions

Interesting. I went grocery shopping yesterday, and I found myself constantly thinking "What would Beth do?" I bought organic peanut butter in a glass jar for the first time ever. :) But this post is somehow reassuring to me.

Carmen
Carmen

I think that's a very nice sentiment. Happy Birthday to you.

Lara S.
Lara S.

Well a late Happy Birthday to you Beth!! I wish you had said it before!You're right, plastic is not the enemy. I think it's more like... shallowness is the enemy. That's what we ought to fight against. That's what your blog clearly does when you post things like this. :-)Good luck in Hawaii!! (you're SO lucky to go there!)