As most of you know, my family just spent four months buying as close to no plastic as we possibly could. Our “experiment” was an extremely successful primer in simple living, one that we continue to be instructed by. We are much changed. So what does life look like now that the rules have been lifted?
Well, I’m still making soft cheeses like chevre and ricotta. I make our yogurt and sour cream. I’ve started buying hard cheeses like jack and cheddar from a local source. Yes, it’s packaged in plastic. But it’s organic and local, and while I might have avoided personally creating trash when I bought cheese from the grocery deli in my own container, I noticed they wrapped the (non-local, non-organic) cheese right back up in a fresh piece of plastic wrap after serving me. So that’s one change.
I’m still making our tortillas, bread products, and crackers. I did buy a can of tomatoes, which is lined in a BPA containing plastic. My first canned product in ages. It felt…kind of sinful and unnecessary, but also kind of wonderful. Oh, and we’ve been having a bit of a strawberry feast for the last couple weeks. Just couldn’t wait for their local season after so long eating home preserved apples all winter. They are wonderful, and I vacillate between disgust at the plastic cartons piling up in our normally empty trash and pleasure in my daughter’s pleasure. Hopefully she’ll get sick of them soon.
Some folks might wonder, why not keep going the way we have been? For us, that’s not an option. We have cars to maintain, a house to hold together, bodies to nurture, and a growing child to care for. As I’ve learned in the last few months, this requires very, very little plastic. But it does require some, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t need it. Also, we have a growing commitment to local foods–I want to try to get as much as 4/5ths of our fare from local sources this summer, and sometimes this means choosing plastic packaging over a non local, unpackaged food. I’ve struggled with this for the duration of our fast, but am now ready to switch my priorities just slightly so that local takes precedence.
So, basically we are continuing to implement our new ways of living, and ending the rigidity of the actual fast. In my mind I’ve devised an elaborate flow chart that helps me to decide when a plastic purchase is appropriate.
I ask myself: Do I really need this?
No: Don’t buy it. Yes: Am I sure?
No: Try to go without for awhile. Yes: Is an alternative available?
Yes: Buy the alternative. No: Am I sure?
No: Look around more. Yes: Ask,
Will this help us to live more ecologically overall? How durable is the plastic? How much can it be reused before being thrown away? Can it be found secondhand? Will it bring us joy, encourage creativity, enhance our life in a way that is ultimately responsible?
Things that we’ll probably be buying in the near future are: drip irrigation supplies, glass storage containers with plastic lids, a bottle of oil lamp fuel, fixtures for the gutters we are installing this spring, and key ingredients that help us to cook from scratch and reduce our packaging waste overall. Assuming of course, that these things meet the criteria laid out above (i.e. no alternative available). Still, there are lot’s of things a four month plastic fast won’t give you a chance to run out of–I’m just now starting to wonder about craft paste in a glass jar, and a refillable ink pen. It’s things like this that we’ll continue to investigate and incorporate into our lives.
So the journey continues to discover what we really need, and how we can best acquire it. Thanks for coming along with us.