Do you ever find yourself buying or not buying things because of the packaging? I only buy grapes at the store maybe once a year because I hate those new, non-recyclable plastic bags they put them in. I buy the giant-est natural peanut butter because it comes in a glass jar and isn't pre-mixed with other fats. I buy mustard in glass bottles. Relish. I tried to buy the yogurt that comes in glass, until the price broke me. I hate buying bags of salad greens (non-recyclable), squirm when I see potluck offerings in storebought plastic containers, and light up with delight when I see unpackaged foods, or produce in cardboard containers. As if I needed another reason to love most of the offerings at the Market.
Yes, some plastic is recyclable, and you can find what to do with which form of plastic on King County's website, but even recyclable plastic can only move "down the chain." It can only be re-made into something else, not the same thing again. That's why all those plastic containers become fleeces and fake-wood for decks and furniture.
I love how some of our berry farmers offer $1 off your next purchase if you return their bigger cardboard carriers (if only I could remember to bring them). And I love my reusable mesh produce bags, of which I don't have enough, and which can also double as a "delicates" bag to go through the laundry. These can be found online or at certain grocery stores.
If the following is true--
and I suspect 500 years might be optimistic--why not save plastic for making things that we'd like to have around for 500+ years?
I might have mentioned that it was time to clean out my in-laws' house, an activity that must rank right up there with root canals and knee-replacement surgeries. Some items were sold. Some items were donated. A very few items could be recycled. Much, much, much was thrown away. But a couple things we kept, like this deer:
It must have been bought by or given to my husband's grandmother because it's that super lightweight, translucent early plastic (celluloid) that would probably go up in flames. One of a pair that used to reside in my mother-in-law's hutch. The other deer must have gotten crushed and will spend the rest of its remaining 400+ years in pieces in the landfill.
Another keeper was the Seth Thomas Adamantine clock:
See the faux marble on either side of the clock face? Plastic. From around about 1895. Plastic can be marvelous. Its longevity can be a good thing. Just not the way we use it now.
As I look out on another smoky day on our not-very-disposable earth, I think the little choices we make, the little differences we make, continue to be so very important. Reduce - Reuse- Recycle, these things remain. But the greatest of these is Reduce.