Folks, this is about my "consumption" of plastic over the next year. I'm looking at what I have, what I buy, and why I seem to need this hundred and fifty year old man-made concoction more than my mother's fried chicken.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Week 19/20: Plastics Abroad

I have a good excuse for posting late. I've been packing my bags for a 5 month internship in the Bahamas. I'm not kidding. But I have a story to share before I get into that...

The Dentist. First of all, my dentist is pretty darn cool. She's got the most personable chair side manner and she's a whiz with the drill. Anyway, I mentioned the blog to her and that I would need to keep my rinse cup. Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had created a monster. Here is a conversation (inspired by true events) between dentist (D) and dental assistant (DA).
D: (to DA) "Hey, so we have to save everything plastic that we use here today because Sunnye is keeping all of her plastic for a year."

DA: (long suspicious pause) "Is this a joke?"

Sunnye: (chuckling sheepishly with numbed lower jaw) "Ith notha joke."
DA: "OK, that's just weird."
D: "Anyway, we have to keep everything we use on her that we would otherwise throw in the she can take it home with her."
DA: (now on board with the idea) "Ooooh--and we can put it all in her plastic headrest cover--it'll make a good baggie."
D: "Good idea."

Both roll their chairs to hover over Sunnye's mouth and continue their dialogue. Sunnye is reluctantly no longer able to participate in the conversation due to rapidly spinning dental tools on her teeth.

DA: "So, what is the blog about?"
D: "She gave us a card; it's right there on the counter, so we can look it up later."
DA: "But why is she doing it?"
D: "I told you! We have to just read it. Do you recycle?"
DA: "Only plastic bottles, but my mom recycles EVERYTHING."
D: (jokingly exasperated) "What are you, a polar bear hater?!"

(Sunnye chuckles & drools a little)

DA: "No!"
D: "Well, then you should recycle more. I'm always picking my husband's recyclables out of the trash. Then I ask if he hates polar bears and that always seems to get him."
DA: "We can give her the suction tubes too."
D: "Oh yeah, and we need to keep the brush tips and plastic barriers on the light."
After a quick filling, my dentist handed me a little doggie bag of plastics--about 15 items in total. And to think, I was feeling on top of things for remembering the rinse cup.
As I was leaving, she mentioned how cool it would be if I could come in and spend a day auditing their plastic consumption. This brings me back to my very first post. Where would the medical/dental world be without plastic?

Right. So, back to the Bahamas. I will be spending the next 5 months of my short life in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas as an aquaponics intern for the Cape Eleuthera Institute. I am leaving tomorrow and will return June 15. The humorous serendipity of this whole thing is that the institute began a zero waste initiative on September 1--the same day I started my blog. When asked if I might be challenged by sharing an environment with my waste, a huge smile spread across my face. Phew...I guess this means I won't have to secretly stuff my plastic under the mattress.

It goes without saying that this blog will evolve a bit. I am guessing I won't have the time or the patience to post each week. The work week is 5.5 days and the internet connection is on "island time." I will still be collecting my plastic and I'm still working on the logistics of how to get it all back to Boston. Any bright ideas are welcomed. Since the institute is a community of shared resources, I am hoping that my individual plastic consumption will decrease, but who knows? I am excited to fill my brain and hands with all things aquaponics as well as permaculture, aquaculture, alternative energy, small island development, shark research, Island School student research projects, and maybe I'll have time to slip in a little half marathon or a 4 mile swim with the new found winter weight will thank me for it. ; )


PJ said...

Actually, the internet connection on the island isn't that bad. I have found any number of open wireless connections up and down the island.

Here's a link to a virtual reality image I shot of the school so you can show folks how gorgeous the place is: Eleuthera Island School

Hope you enjoy your visit to the island.

beyesn said...

Have a great time and learn alot on your internship! And, to answer your rhetorical question: The medical/dental field would be a lot more expensive and risk-filled if it weren't for plastics -- and we, often sick, humans would suffer. Blood bags, catheters, dialysis & IV tubing, examination gloves, inhalation masks, artificial limbs, the hard casings around monitors and meters, heart valves, syringes for at-home self care (diabetics) goes on and on. However, I do hear that hospitals are actually recycling catheters! Seriously. Yuck?

Looking forward to your observations from the Bahamas.

kristi said...

what an entertaining post. oh, and thoughtful as always.

ok, will you email me when you get a chance and tell me why you are moving to the bahamas? i mean, i know why, but *why.*

rick said yesterday, "i nudged josh on twitter, and suddenly he started doing these updates. did you know sunnye was going to the bahamas for 5 months?"

oy. much love.

Sunnye said...

Hey PJ--so glad you checked out the blog--I hope to have some time to check out yours as well! And very excited to hear about the open wireless connections...

Thanks b! I'm excited--they have a huge pile of plastic here, but they reuse a lot of the larger containers as compost collection bins. Recycling catheters, huh? Sounds like someone needs to give Mike Rowe a call for a Dirty Jobs Episode...

PJ said...

I have an excellent photo of a deadwood tree adorned with various plastic bottles and such -- made to look like a Christmas tree. It's sitting over on Poponi Beach (Central Eleuthera). Someone even went to the trouble of spelling out Merry Christmas using seaweed in front of it. When I get back to my desktop, I'll see about posting a photo of it on my Eleuthera blog.

No shortage of plastic on the beaches. Still, the beaches on Eleuthera are some of the best in the Bahamas -- off the hook.

PJ said...

Here's the image I was talking about.

Eleuthera - Merry Christmas

Sunnye said...

Fantastic pic! Maybe I can make a pilgrimage on my break...

PJ said...

I'll be down late March into April and will probably revisit Poponi. Give me a holler if you like and I'll see about getting you a Gmap link if the tree is still there.