The following is a guest post from Fake Plastic Fish reader Carrick Bartle who finds that pretending she’s on the show Little House on the Prairie is a fun green motivator. Carrick joined the Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash Challenge a few weeks ago.
I’m a single girl in my twenties in Los Angeles, working in what’s essentially the legal department of an entertainment company. The building I work in is actually quite progressive in the “green” arena—they just installed a ginormous field of solar panels–and it was an article in the weekly company newsletter that jumpstarted my current obsession with minimizing my carbon footprint—which, of course, includes avoiding plastic. (Getting the word out DOES make a difference!)
The article was on green issues and mentioned a few blogs -— like No Impact Man —- written by people who weren’t content with just chucking things in the recycling bin like I was: instead, they took the leap to decide that if disposable items were bad, they would examine every facet of their lives to try to rid their lives of them completely. I had had no idea there was such a vibrant online community about this. And the more I read, the more apparent it became that I wasn’t doing nearly enough.
I just plain didn’t know exactly how damaging plastic -— and other consumer materials -— was to the ecosystem. Of course I knew enough to frown upon it, but I certainly didn’t realize, for instance, how damaging it was to ME, directly -— e.g. that it was soaking into my skin from cosmetics and could cause CANCER. I learned about a bunch of things that kick you right in the gut -— like the Mae West turtle and the Pacific Garbage Patch and the prediction from some scientists that the entire North Pole may melt completely in just a few decades. I realized that things like not buying a soda in a plastic bottle wasn’t just nice -— it was imperative.
I became an addict -— poring through every article of every blog I could find (like Fake Plastic Fish) for tips on changes to make. And I was surprised to find how maddeningly hard eliminating plastic was. Cans have a plastic liner?? You can’t get medication in anything other than plastic?? There are no electronics not made with plastic?!?!
It became an exciting challenge. One website, Crunchy Chicken, even runs awesome (hardcore!!) challenges that kickstart you into changing or amping up your habits. I’ve always been a bit of an ascetic, a bit of an eccentric, and a bit of a luddite, and this new obsession drew those qualities right to the surface. Not that you have to be those things in the pursuit of becoming more eco-friendly – —that’s just what I found most fun about it.
I love pretending I’ve entered the world of Little House of the Prairie. Instead of washing my dishes with a plastic sponge, I started using a hand-crocheted cloth -— just like in ye olden tymes! I brush my teeth with baking soda, line-dry my laundry, make most of my meals from scratch, buy only used clothing, use the bulk bins, etc., etc., etc.
(In the kitchen pic, I’m cooking with my used pot and new but bamboo cooking spoon and wearing a skirt I got at Goodwill for 5 bucks! The other picture is me holding my toothbrush (with baking soda on it) and my baking soda deodorant concoction -— recipe courtesy of Fake Plastic Fish.)
Of course, I still have a long way to go. My next anti-plastic project is to get a crockpot and a tortilla press so I can indulge in my craving for refried beans and tortilla chips without having to toss out yet another can and plastic bag. But at least I’m now fully aware of these issues, which is, of course, half the battle. And the changes I’ve made have become so ingrained that I barely notice them anymore—I don’t feel deprived or anything; I feel the same as usual.