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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And all I got was this big pile of plastic...

I am not going to lie. I have been procrastinating (an understatement, I know) on the composition of this last post for a few reasons:
  1. The year went by too fast, clocks be damned. I still have a few topics in mind.
  2. I don't want the final post to be garbage.
  3. I was paralyzed by the giant pile of plasticrap.
  4. The other non-plastic parts of my life were in complete and total upheaval.
Here I am, 6.5 months after my year of plastic with plenty of poop bags to spare and finally at peace with the fact that this last post (like so many plastic inventions) will not be my best creation. Plastic has taught me that you can always start out with a good idea, but it may not amount to much more that a plastic knife that can't cut dog doodie on a hot day in Atlanta. And on that note, I would like to share some of my other plastic life lessons.
  1. Excess can come in small packages: Unless you are recovering from oral surgery, have lost the ability to drink straight from a cup, or cannot stand upright, there is no excuse to drink from a straw. The only concession I will make at this point is for frozen drinks: shakes, frappes, smoothies, and margaritas. Everything else is excessive. Straws now remind me to assess excess in my life.
  2. Impermanence is natural: People, love, anger, bank account balances, security, waistlines, happiness, work, health, gardens...everything comes and goes. But plastic is forever. You know why? Because it isn't natural. How many unnatural things do I have in my life?
  3. Convenience cripples: From the plastic that upholds the multi-billion dollar fast food industry to the annoying little plastic clip that hold a new pair of socks together on the rack, so many plastics have upgraded themselves from conveniences to perceived necessities. Without many plastics, global trade would implode and force us to be locally dependent and resourceful. Just take 2 minutes to think about it. Ready, set, go.
  4. Containment aids denial: The overarching theme of my year was packaging & containment. We gotta wrap stuff, ship goods, package food, contain liquids, protect cheap plastic products with cheap plastic packaging and then dump those cheap plastic products in the plastic garbage barrel when they break. We use plastic to make plastic and we use plastic to dispose of plastic. There is no containment method for plastic...or anything really. Landfills degrade the outer landscape just like stored anger and resentment contaminates the inner landscape.
And I'll stop there.
However, I want to end with the last known photos of my plastics. Alas, I didn't make a sculpture. I ended up retiring the pile to several recycle bins and garbage cans.

Did recycling a lot of it make me feel better? No. Because I know that all of it still exists somewhere. Maybe some of it is in a fleece jacket, the stomach of a snapper, in a tree overlooking the harbor, or compacted within several layers of dirty diapers and mummified food in a Massachusetts landfill.

It kind of looks like a bar graph, no?

The plastichaos was really quite organized...

Pile O' Styrene...

I eat a lot of food bars...

The leaning tower of drink cups... suck.

This was my "bathroom" many different things can you count?

I liked collecting chip bags the most.

I had a filing system...

Plastic cutlery is overrated. This is not an opinion.

I had plastic containers to store my plastic...sick.

Hugo is positively overwhelmed...

I am too, buddy.

Thanks for reading.