The Unexpected Abundance of Going Without


Here’s the deal: we’re quitting plastic.

Not forever. For four months. Starting January first, we will buy no new plastic. Nothing wrapped in plastic, nothing made of plastic. No new plastic.

At its core this semester-long experiment is a way for us to step outside our comfort zone, so rife with cop-outs like filling our eco totes with heavily packaged food. It’s a symbolic action, but one that feels necessary to take. We can’t realistically throw away the keys to our cars or turn out the lights. We can’t move to the country and live off the grid. But we can get by without plastic.

I think.

At first, I looked at the countdown to New Years Day as a doomsday march. However would we get by? I considered sneaking extra toothbrushes and packages of baby wipes into the shopping cart each week to build up a supply for desperate times.

But a funny thing happened. Once I started looking, I saw all around me how easy it was to not use plastic. The abundance was startling and intoxicating. I mean, have you ever really looked at what is available in the bulk food section of your local co-op? I hadn’t. Those hippies figured it out forty years ago. Where have I been? Trader Joe’s, apparently.

Transitioning to a plastic free life is a bit like preparing for a trip to a foreign country you’ve always wanted to visit. In my case that foreign country is The Olden Days. A land where I get to bake my family’s bread, milk goats, and churn butter. (Just kidding on that last one. If butter came wrapped in plastic I wouldn’t have agreed to this experiment.)

Of course, you don’t need to quit plastic to do any of these things. But it all fits together, this letting go of one thing and welcoming in of another. Our desire to reduce plastic to help the planet, or at least to do less harm to it in our daily lives, was the inspiration for this experiment. The potential it offers us to achieve long dormant dreams, to grow in unexpected ways, to claim our power as agents of change—these are the things that will carry it forward.

It’s still two months from our experiment’s start date, but we’ve already reduced our plastic consumption by more than half. Simply opening ourselves to the idea of making such a big change has changed us in big ways.

4 Replies to “The Unexpected Abundance of Going Without”

  1. hallelooYah! i’m with ya. i feel the earth smile each time i bypass buying something with plastic or styrofoam packaging, as well as each time i pick up trash off the Earth. and i can see how much slips into my bag even with my longstanding practice of using less. thanks for this invite to do more to use less. loveya, rahmaneh

  2. i head to the kitchen after blithly thinking “oh yeah, i don’t get fresh plastic bags anyway, except on occasion. i can do without that. i already bring my glass jar for juice so as to avoid the plastic lid on the plastic cup. I can happily do more to use less…” Then i think ” OY! how do i deal with my husband’s needs, given his illness? no IVs? no Depends? do i get up every time he needs to pee in the night? how do i provide him with the foods he wants, like rice bread that comes in plastic bag? his vegenaise that has a plastic lid? lots to consider…

  3. Dear Kyce,

    I am really moved to read about what your are doing, and more by how you are doing it! Really an inspiration and a step towards a more balanced and healthy world! Thank you for reminding me how much each one of us can contribute in our own way.
    I truly hope that some day we can sit together again with our children and share!
    Lots of love,
    Siri Amrit (Amsterdam)

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