Before I start, I want to say that I am excited about raising awareness about how much single-use plastic is currently being used and why it’s terrible for the environment, but I also want to raise awareness to reasons why consumers don’t participate 100% and how we can find ways to help.
- Becoming zero-waste is SUPER time-consuming. If you currently live near a store that does not carry bulk items then I can almost guarantee there will be no way to be completely plastic free.
- A zero waste lifestyle cannot just happen overnight, ESPECIALLY if you have young kids and are on a tight budget. I’ve slowly started buying more Stasher Bags because I love the quality, but they’re expensive so I choose to budget a few here and there.
- There are many local farmers that I buy from that still package their baked goods in plastic wrap or plastic containers because their state ordinances require them to do so. Yes, there are biodegradable options that have hit the market, however, it can still cost quite a bit more and small farmers need every penny they can get. This is where food policy advocates are needed. Talk to your state department and figure out ways to make farmers lives easier at farmer’s markets. I can promise you there are some VERY stingy rules in some places.
- With my kids being so young, and one already being super picky, I don’t want to ever make them feel left out when their friends eat certain packaged items. Food, healthy or not, is about community and kids realize this from a very early age. I will in no way make my kids victim to disordered eating by telling them they are not allowed to eat foods that their friends are eating. Yes—there are exceptions since my oldest has very strange food allergies and soda will always be a big NO for me since my kids are only 5 (almost) and 2.5.
- Sometimes there are disability issues that require consumers to use more single-use plastic items to make life easier. Why would I criticize their right for a quality of life?
- Lastly, do you know how many Americans currently live without a working stove, refrigerator, oven, etc.? I’m not really sure on the exact number, but from my experience when I applied to work at my local food bank, many children were sent home with can openers, weekly, because they didn’t have the proper equipment at home in order to open up the ravioli. I was also told that most of these children don’t even have access to cook the ravioli due to various reasons, lack of electricity/gas, lack of working oven, lack of microwave, etc.
I am a firm believer that voting with your fork can create a new paradigm shift: meaning, the money you choose to spend at farmers markets can boost your local economy, and/or the money you spend on purchasing organic/beyond organic/sustainable produce and/or pasture-raised meat/dairy/eggs can create demand for organic/sustainable farming systems, etc. which is what I believe the “Plastic-Free Campaign” is trying to accomplish, but I also feel that food companies, restaurants, and grocery stores have a responsibility to find packaging that is more environmentally friendly.
Alter Eco chocolate company has found a way to make some of their packaging compostable. Restaurants can make portion sizes smaller—as well as prices, to 1) prevent food waste because most Americans don’t eat their leftovers and 2) prevent styrofoam containers from being overused. Restaurants can also stop supplying customers with plastic straws and styrofoam containers but offer eco-friendly options upon request, such as cardboard straws and compostable to-go containers. Grocery stores should offer bulk items with in-demand items and allow reusable jars instead of the plastic bags.
I think it’s important to realize that being plastic-free is a privilege.
Cheers to living with a Conscious,