20 March 2011

Post 358: Plastic

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel. ISBN: 978547152400 (eGalley - Publishes April 18, 2011).

I've always kind of hated plastic bags. It's almost visceral how much I hate them. Reading this book didn't so much tell me why I hate plastic bags, so much as it put those feelings into words for me. I hate them because they are everywhere and they get everywhere and there is pretty much no way to get rid of them once you have accumulated them.

And yes, I am one of those people that collects plastic bags. It drives me crazy because I don't feel like I can just throw them out. They are disgusting are annoying pieces of trash, but a lot of energy went in to making them, and the idea of throwing something away that I've only used once for non-hygiene purposes bothers me to no end. But then I end up with a cabinet full of plastic bags that I can't possibly use as fast as I obtain more. Certainly I use the reusable bags whenever possible, or just skip bags altogether, but the convenience, oh that seemingly convenient inconvenience that plastic bags provide.

It is so much easier to walk into the store with nothing and walk out of the store loaded down with those flimsy diaphanous puffs of white bag loaded down with even more plastic packaging containing my food or other recently purchased products. How wonderful it seems when I am walking the 60-100 feet from storefront to car, and really not even that if I'm using a shopping cart. Sometimes their usefulness is only really from cart to trunk and then the very short walk from my parking space to my apartment (look Ma, no stairs!). Honestly, in the situations where I go to the grocery and forget my reusable bags, I could easily just ask the bagger/cashier to put them directly in the cart. When I get home it is not overly difficult to run in and get a bag for that short transport from car to refrigerator. So why don't I do it? Because it's easier. And so I am stuck with more plastic bags than I know what to do with and a cat who poops in volumes, but not enough to fill all of those bags.

You know, I kind of miss paper bags. They might have taken up more space to transport,etc. but they take up less space under the kitchen sink. They are easier to reuse as long as they don't get wet. I miss the smell of them. People talk about missing the smell of books; shopping just doesn't feel the same with plastic bags. Paper had this sort of dark earthy smell to it. Even though my fruit often came in its own plastic, it felt a bit like pulling something out of the earth when I removed it from that dark, crinkly bag.

And we were more likely to reuse them too. There were infinite uses for paper bags. Not only were they convenient as small trash bags or even temporary trash cans, but we often used them to wrap presents after designing our own wrapping paper with stamps and markers. My mother frequently used paper bags to make sewing patterns that were far more sturdy and durable than the flimsy ones provided by the pattern companies. We used them as book covers for my textbooks (why buy them?). They were used as shelf paper, they were way better than newspaper for drying wet shoes, and often they were more fun to draw or color on than regular paper.

Apparently paper bags are just as bad or worse than plastic, but when you're done with a plastic bag... It really only has one more use: bathroom/small trash bag or Pet poo collector.

My review can be found at Goodreads.
LibsNote: Free review copy provided by Netgalley.
There's a great blog that was mentioned in this book about a woman who is trying to eliminate her use of plastic and has greatly reduced her use. Read about it at My Plastic-free Life (formerly Fake Plastic Fish).


  1. So that solution is, get a dog?

  2. Somehow I think getting a dog would just lead to acquiring more plastic bags. I suppose I could send all of my bags to my dog-owning friends though.


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