I recently wrote an item about Mark and Melanie Rummel, a couple of Texas bloggers who say they're trying to live a plastics-free lifestyle.
The newlywed couple set a goal of buying nothing made of plastic for the next year. They're sharing their story at nonewplastic.com. A local TV station in Dallas/Fort Worth did a story on the project.
According to the story, the Rummels are continuing to find new ways to use less plastic — but they say living completely without plastic is almost impossible.
“For us, it's more about, ‘This is how we see a sustainable way of living, and that's how we want to live,' ” Melanie Rummel said.
Here's an excerpt from their blog — one of my favorite entries, called “I cried for cheese (and other food experiences).” It started when Melanie Rummel asked if her grocer, Brian, could get them a chunk of cheese without plastic packaging.
“We watched Brian get the cart to carry the large wheel of cheese to the counter. He peeled away the canvas it had been shipped in and used a wire cheese cutter to cut it open for us. As soon as he cut the wheel, he used a tool to dig out the first bite and gave it to us to taste,” she wrote.
“After it was cut, Brian agreed to put it in our cloth produce bag. After weeks of not buying cheese, I was so thankful, I cried a little.”
When I posted an item about the Rummel's attempt to live plastics-free, “Plastics Blog” readers jumped in to share their thoughts.
“What about the computer they type their blog on?” wrote Matthew Kerkhoff. “That's a lot more plastic than a piece of cheese. A computer made of plastic-free cheese, now that would be worth blogging about and may be good with some crackers. Forget about adding a mouse to it though.”
Frank Flowers added: “Were the wheels on the cart plastic? There probably is plastic used in the processing machines where the cheese is made, also plastic used in the vehicle that delivered the cheese to the store, and what about the store they must use plastic or sell it? By being a customer, they are promoting the use of plastic.”
Angie DeRosa, a blog reader and PN correspondent, asked what would happen if one of the Rummels needed a medical procedure during their year-long plastics-free experiment. Would they avoid plastic medical devices — most are single-use disposables, to avoid infection, after all. How about intravenous drips or pharmaceuticals packaged in plastics?
“Right now, it's popular in the mainstream press to say, ‘I'm living a plastic-free life!' and it's obviously a great way to draw media attention,” DeRosa wrote. “It's the latest, greatest feel-good topic.”
She's right. Living “plastics free” is just about impossible. And is living “plastics free” really a good thing? How many people want to live without sterile medical devices, cost-effective transportation, efficient building insulation, and safe electrical appliances?
It may be popular to trash plastics, even in some corners of the media, but it's foolhardy, populist nonsense.
Loepp is managing editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”