For weeks I’ve been staying up all night researching plastic, what it does in the environment, alternative products, alternative packaging, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how much having my computer on all night contributes to global warming? Of course, if it weren’t for this project, I’d probably be sitting in front of it watching recorded TV shows all night and playing Spider Solitaire, so I guess this is the lesser of the evils.
But this morning, as I was grabbing yet another plastic-laden frozen entree as I ran out the door because I hadn’t given myself time to prepare anything else, I paused to think about the irony of the situation. And I realized that I don’t have to solve every plastic problem that arises this week or this month. I can slow down and spend some time in my garden. Or get some exercise and start running again. Or just sit and follow my breath.
I’m tired. And I think a lot of other people are tired. So many people are trying to cram too many things into their lives without stopping to breathe. And just maybe all this frantic activity helps create the need for all this plastic in the first place. We want convenience because we don’t have time to cook fresh food. We want a cucumber shrink-wrapped in plastic like I saw the other day at Trader Joe’s because we don’t even have time to wash off our fruits and vegetables.
But even as I’m writing this, another voice inside me is screaming, “But I don’t want to cook dinner! I don’t want to make a salad. I want to sit in front of my computer all day, munching on chocolate bars, until I merge into cyberspace and become pure information.” (Don’t laugh, Jo Anne.) So what I just said about doing too many things is true, but it’s not the whole story.
Are we living in the Information Age or the Plastic Age? I think it’s both and that they go hand in hand. Our brains are plastic, malleable, our minds so easily seduced and manipulated by the volume of input coming in faster and faster. People like me become fascinated with all this information. In fact, the Web site Plastic.com is not actually about plastic but is an ever-changing (plastic) user-driven news and discussion forum, “recyling the web in real time.”
Remember when I said that having a project to be passionate about has resulted in my desire to buy fewer things? Well, that’s a nice sentiment. It’s what you’re supposed to say in a blog like this. But honestly, I think I’m still just as acquisitive as I was before. It’s just that now, the desire is for knowledge, information, data. Feed me data! (And chocolate because I do still have a body.) More data! More chocolate! More data! More chocolate! Yum! If we only had a food replicator, like on Star Trek, we’d be set. But we don’t. We have plastic, plastic packaging that allows us to live plastic lives. We can freeze it, bake it, microwave it, submerge it, and it’ll still be there protecting whatever is inside so we can do whatever else we want to do besides worrying about preparing food.
In fact, the only thing about plastic that isn’t plastic is the firmness with which it will continue to exist even after we are gone. And when I think about that, and about the harm it is doing to the other creatures who live on this planet and who are not seduced by information and chocolate, I feel sad. And responsible.
So… so… I have no pithy conclusion to this post. I can’t tie it up with a neat moral. I don’t know that there is one. Except to reiterate that I need some sleep. And a plan for how to continue to pursue my passions without forgetting this human body, without which those passions would not exist. But first, I need some sleep.