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.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weeks 42-45: So said. So done.

Six months gone. Just like that. I came back to the states with an extra duffel bag in tow. I must in community definitely cuts down on my personal plastic consumption over time. However, most of these plastics were shipped in from all over the globe, mainly from the US, UK, and Canada. If I left all of my plastics there, this is the first stop it would make:

This is the trash that has amassed from Sept 1, 2008-June 13, 2009. Waste management is an interesting, how do you say...shit show on small islands? Waste management is really a shit show everywhere in the world, it's usually just a matter of degree.

Sorry for saying "shit" three times.

The Island School & Cape Eleuthera Institute started out on a noble path to stop sending their waste to the open dump in Deep Creek 5 miles down the road. All over campus, there are 25 L green waste barrels with spray painted rims. Red is for incineration, white is for paper, blue is for glass & metal, and I'll be damned if I still don't know what color is for plastics. From there, (and this is where it gets a little hairy and ) the bins are emptied into larger, (50 gal) barrels located in "the bone yard." Now, part of the weekly chore rotation at the CEI includes taking all of the bone yard refuse across the way to the Island School "dump" (pictured above). What would frequently happen is 2-3 folks in a row would opt out of that particular chore with one of the following mind sets:

1) "Eww, it's trash and that should be the interns' job."
2) "If I ignore it, it will go away."
3) "I'm too busy collecting data for blah, blah, blah."

Usually motivated by anger, some folks will rally, get the truck, and drive the bleeping subdivided piles of crap a whopping .2 miles to the other side of campus. Now, some of you sharp folks out there may have noticed that by the time the subdivided piles of crap actually gets to the is, well...dumped. And after I helped unload the garbage one day and saw yogurt containers, soda cans, and cardboard playing in the sandbox together, I started throwing everything into the incinerate bin.

As I like to say, the road to the dump is paved with good intentions...and garbage.

Let me be clear that I completely appreciate the idea behind keeping Island School/CEI waste on site as a daily reminder of the overarching and overwhelming question: "How do we deal with our waste?" So, I am thinking, "This is great! Let's really wrestle with this and show these Island School students that there is no away!" And then came Parents weekend along with an order from up on high to erect a thatched fence to hide the unsightly mess.


So, there she sits...just like Baby in Dirty Dancing...but you know what they say about Baby. I look forward to seeing how long they collect before someone lights a huge fiery inferno of burning, melting, bubbling trash goo. Not that I ever thought about doing that...

Switching gears, it took me a few days to "process" my 454 plastic items that I used from January 15-July 5. For any of you list junkies, here it is:

17 plastic shopping bags
3 6-pack soda rings
1 bulk coffee bag
8 polystyrene containers (I'm still depressed about this one...)
7 Ziploc bags
19 snack bars
2 fruit leather
3 Emergen-C
3 ketchup packets (Chik-Fil-A, Philly airport, cannot have waffle fries without them...)
24 candy wrappers (Woah. Woah...some of these were BITE-size.)
2 cream cheese containers
3 cream cheese seal
9 cookie packages
3 ice cream wrappers
1 milk seal
1 dipping sauce container
1 dipping sauce seal
2 Coke bottles
1 Gatorade bottle
8 chip bags
12 plastic cups
18 lids & caps
8 condiment containers
11 small yogurt containers
4 forks
2 knives
2 spoons
17 straws
1 Edamame bag
42 plasticrap (the ever-unclassifiable objects like ribbon, door handles, and bumper stickers)
1 quinoa bag
2 rice bags
1 pita bag
2 brownie mix bags
1 sugar bag
1 pasta bag
1 raisin bag
2 nut bags (not my former supervisors, but actual bags that hold nuts)
1 trail mix bag
1 hotel key (from the Quality "is unattainable" Inn in Nassau)
1 heartworm pill package (for my dog...)
4 dry good bags
15 cheese packages
1 egg carton
1 side dish container
1 dessert container (Guava Duff from Nassau to be exact)
1 large lid
1 alfalfa sprout container
2 wine wraps
1 bag seal
2 bottle wraps
6 ring seals
2 mushroom containers
2 mushroom wraps
2 cookie roller coaster seats (you know--the packages that cookies "sit" in)
4 plantain bags
1 car door handle (from the accident--I couldn't figure out how to get the entire car back...)
4 water bottles
6 ice bags
4 bread bags
3 shipping bag
7 saran wraps
1 sandwich bag
4 party cup bags
3 misc bags
1 watch package
16 Contacts
1 iPod cover
2 buffer solution packages
1 pair sunglasses
1 pen cap
1 skeletool package
1 rockwool wrap
6 lamination sheet scraps
1 zip tie
1 drill bit package seal
1 sheet set bag
3 toothbrush packages
16 Contact case packages
4 Insteads
4 Instead packages
3 shampoo & conditioner bottles
6 toilet paper wrap
1 aveeno anti-itch cream package
1 razor head pack
2 razor heads
1 Nuvaring
1 Nuvaring package
1 Benadryl package
1 toothpaste tube
1 pill container
4 broken hair clip pieces
1 Band-Aid
6 contact solution seals
1 pill cap
1 toothpaste cap
3 shampoo caps
3 pill packages
1 allergy eye drop container
1 allergy eye drop cap
1 bra (I just hate it and I've had it for 5 years.)
1 Kittery trading post bag



kate said...

WOW! I was wondering if you were going to haul everything plastic home with you. I guess I know the's far less stuff than I would have thought for six months! congrats!

kristi said...

i was thinking what kate said. specifically, when i read through all the food items, i was thinking "did sunnye even EAT while she was there?" welcome home... :)

Sunnye said...

HA!! Yeah--I definitely have more to say on the topic of plastic food waste. Since everything came in bulk, I SHOULD have brought home at least 3 large bags of cereal, 3 more bags of pasta, and I would have brought home a bulk yogurt or feta cheese container, 3-5 polystyrene egg cartons, but the kitchen ladies reuse them for leftovers. The kitchen ladies made several loaves of bread every day, so no bread bags and I believe the flour came in these papery, burlappy type bags. I never saw the packaging for the veggie burgers and most of the produce came over in large cardboard crates. I am thinking I should make an "en absentia" list!! Thanks Ladies!

Lee Winters Cruising Blogspot said...

Love you for doing this. I see this all over the islands I've visited. From what I've seen there is another question that has to be answered before you can answer the question about what to do with the trash/plastic. How do you make people care? Many of the islands I've seen are tiny, but people won't walk two steps to put something in a rubbish bin.

Oh yeah, I can finally play and even sing Plastic Jesus on the ukulele.


Sunnye said...

I would take it even one step further and ask: "What can we do to greatly reduce the perception of need for ALL this crap--most of which is packaging?"

At CEI, I was positively baffled by the lack of connection (myself included) to the waste stream. And I have to hand it to CEI that there is a level of consciousness about waste that I have not seen elsewhere in the world, but that is ONLY because the waste is on site. I am ONLY really aware of my waste because I am keeping it with me...for the time being. I can already feel myself thinking..."only 2 more months of this ridiculousness I've created." But then what? In the words of Eckhart Tolle: "Awareness is the greatest agent for change."

Masud Khan said...

Nice Topic. Thank a lot.
dog waste bags