How would living ‘plastic free' change your life?
I suspect that few readers of the Plastics Blog are interested in living a “plastic-free” lifestyle. But let's consider what it would be like, and if the changes would have a positive or negative impact on your standard of living.
We've written a few times about bloggers who try to minimize the amount of single-use plastics they consume. They tend to call the lifestyle “plastics-free,” although we recognize right off the bat that term is misleading.
If they're using a computer to blog – or a car (bus or airplane) for transportation; or if they're getting any kind of conventional health care – then they're not really living without plastics.
But I acknowledge that some people do make extraordinary efforts to avoid single-use plastics in things like packaging. One of the leaders of the movement is Beth Terry, who we've interviewed a few times.
Last week I came across another plastics-free blogger: Erin Rhodes, who has a blog called The Rogue Ginger, where she writes about her attempts to live a plastics-free and zero-waste lifestyle.
Rhodes recently hit a milestone in her effort, when she marked 2 full years of actively trying to not buy any new plastic. She wrote about the effort for OneGreenPlanet.org, in a post called “Two years of living plastic free: How I did it and what I've learned.”
The post includes a long list of products that she used instead of plastics – for example, tooth powder instead of toothpaste, and reusable cloth bags instead of packaged goods.
Some of the tips appeal to my sense of frugality. I don't have an issue with using less stuff. I guess there's some Henry David Thoreau philosophy rattling around my head that likes the idea of setting up shop on Walden Pond and simplifying my life.
But when Rhodes writes about using hair ties she finds on the street, or moon cups and reusable cloth pads instead of sanitary items – I think she's going to lose a lot of followers on those tips.
Also, I wonder about some of the products that she's buying instead of mass-marketed alternatives that are packaged in plastics. Some of these oils and powders are packaged in glass, right? Is that really more sustainable than plastic? I'm skeptical.
Whenever I write about “plastics-free” bloggers, a lot of people wonder what happens if these people get sick. Do they avoid life-saving plastic products in hospitals and clinics?
On this point, Rhodes has a reasonable answer:
“First things first, I am not anti plastic. I am anti the misuse of plastic. Plastic has done some great things for medicine. It has healed and prolonged life, made mobility easier, given the gift of hearing, walking – the list goes on and on,” she writes.
“Whenever someone asks me what to do I tell them to make a decision based on what's best for them.”
Rhodes concludes that her second year living without plastic went pretty well. “I feel content and happy,” she writes, “and as silly as this might sound, more in harmony.”
That's cool, I'm happy for her. Personally, after reading her blog, I think avoiding plastic takes too much effort and would reduce my quality of life in some pretty significant ways.
So for now I'll be happy with frugality instead – walking instead of driving, shopping locally, reusing every PET bottle or plastic bag I get.