How strange to call this planet 'Earth' when quite clearly it is ocean. Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Plastic Fast

The best way to appreciate something is to let it go. Don't it always seem to go that we don't know what we've got 'til it's gone?*

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Ash Wednesday, March 5th this year, marks the beginning of the Catholic season of Lent. During Lent, we remember that life is challenging and people suffer. We also remember that our human sinfulness often keeps us from happiness and distances us from God. Catholics often give up something during Lent to remind them not to get too comfortable in their lifestyles, and to break habits that cause us and others to suffer.

People usually give up things that are personally physically or emotionally unhealthy, like smoking, junk food, or TV. In the past, I've given up chocolate (several times), complaining, and cracking my knuckles. I've also done extra things like devoting more time to prayer and reading scripture. One year I wrote a letter of appreciation to a different person every day of Lent. At the end of the six weeks I had over forty letters and I mailed them all out. I got a lot of wonderful response letters that I still have in my room.

I think what you give up for Lent is even more meaningful if it benefits others. That brings me to this year:

I will give up plastic.

There are lots of reasons to avoid plastic, and the most important for me are that it's harmful for human health and land, sea, and air. No matter how safe it seems, plastic is full of really unhealthy compounds that disrupt normal biological functions. Plus, plastic lasts forever. So as we keep making it, the Earth is becoming fuller and fuller of plastic. I repeat: each day, the Earth is made up of more plastic. That's not okay with me. By giving up plastic, I am not contributing to this linear process and helping keep the Earth a safe place for all Life. I believe that Life is an irreplaceable gift from God, and my love of God and all creation, including you, my reader, compels me to take care of it not for my sake or God's sake alone, but also for your sake, Mosquito's sake, Poison ivy's sake, diatoms' sakes, and the sake of everything that ever has or ever will incorporates into itself that molecule of carbon dioxide you just exhaled.

I have to make rules for my plastic fast so I can reach my goals:
1. I will not buy plastic. This includes packaging.
2. I will not use anything newly purchased that is made of plastic. This includes newly purchased food items that came in plastic wrapping.
3. I will not accept plastic items given to me.
4. If I do somehow end up getting plastic, I will keep it for the duration of the fast and take a picture of it on Easter.
5. I can use long-lasting plastic items I already have (i.e. my computer and my refrigerator), but if I find an affordable non-plastic alternative, I will buy and use that and discard of the plastic item.
6. I will write about my experience in this blog. That includes updates to the rules.
7. If anyone buys a non-plastic alternative item and tell me how much the plastic version cost, I will donate that much in my rice bowl.
8. I will structure my posts in the following way:
  • Week number:
  • Things I needed that normally come with new plastic:
  • Things I bought that have new plastic (if any; hopefully this will be none):
  • Things I bought in plastic-free form:
  • Things I did to avoid buying new plastic:
  • Things with new plastic that were given to me:
  • Plastic things I politely rejected:
  • People who learned about my plastic fast (optional): so far, most of my facebook friends.
  • What was the hardest part of my fast this week?:
  • What was the easiest part of my fast this week?:
  • What can I not find a non-plastic alternative for, and can I give up this item entirely?:
I am excited to see what challenges I encounter. I know plastic is ubiquitous in my life. Already I am noticing I am running out of spices that I bought in plastic containers, and I'm wondering if I will have to eat bland food for the next six weeks.

I appreciate your support and comments. Please send me your ideas for plastic-free alternatives, and I challenge you to spend just one day not buying or using anything plastic!

Peace and Love!

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*I realize now that two-liner intro isn't totally applicable to the rest of this post. It implies that I'm going to appreciate plastic more once I've given it up, but there isn't much if anything about plastic to appreciate. I'll leave the intro there anyway because it's sorta catchy and I don't want to write another one. :D

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