I never really liked plastic. Ever since I was younger I always had an unexplained fear of it. Maybe it was because growing up I was told that plastic bags can suffocate you, or that the plastic film on the TV dinner poisoned your food when you heated it up, and that you had to make sure the cups and bowls you want from the Disney store were free of some thing called BPA. I never understood it, I never truly trusted this thing called plastic. I didn't even know what it was made of or where it came from. And no matter where I looked it was there.
I always knew plastic wasnt good for the environment, but I never truly understood why. I knew it was bad to litter and good to recycle, but that was about the extent of my knowledge about plastic waste. It wasn’t until I went to college and took a summer study abroad course in Belize that I really started to learn about it. Before that trip I would have sworn up and down that I was a tree hugger, but just like most people, plastic was a big part of my every day life.
The one thing that stuck with me during my time in Belize was the immense amount of plastic littered on the beaches. There was no way that the Belizeans could be producing this much plastic, they had very few things and lived almost completely off the land. It didn’t click until I picked up a shampoo bottle on one of our many beach clean ups. To my surprise, the shampoo bottle was written in French. This stuff has been circulating throughout the ocean. It doesn’t sink, and it doesn’t break down.
Photo courtesy of (http://surfwritergirls.blogspot.com)
During my trip in Belize we learned a lot about how plastic affects the safety of marine life. Plastic takes thousands of years to bio-degrade and within those years they encounter a lot of innocent creatures. Since we were studying Hawksbill turtles on our trip, we learned a lot about how plastic affects them as well. We’ve all seen the video of the turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. That’s just one of the many things that are happening in our oceans. Most turtles mistake plastic bags floating in the water as jellyfish. When they eat them, the plastic fills their stomachs and they can no longer eat, ultimately starving them to death. Turtle hatchlings can easily get caught up in the piles of plastic litter along the shore lines before making their way to the water. Other marine creatures can get caught in discarded plastic fishing nets, soda rings, and other plastic waste. All at the same time these plastics are slowly breaking down and creating more harmful micro-plastic partials that get into the fish we eat. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
After learning about all this, I knew I couldn’t go on living this irresponsible lifestyle. I couldn’t bare the idea that my wasteful behavior was hurting innocent beings somewhere thousands of miles away. I couldn't bare the thought of my plastic grocery bag being the reason the reason for the death of a beautiful hawks-bill turtle. I knew I couldn’t hurt the planet that has given me everything for the mere sake of convenience. I needed to make some serious changes, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
There was just one thing standing in my way, that one thing I never asked for but was always there. And I knew I had to do it, I had to break up with plastic. The most toxic relationship I have ever been in.
I dove deeper into research, like I always do when I’m conflicted, and I found out that there were already people doing this. Not only were people living with out plastic, but they were living without creating any waste at all. The zero-waste movement swept me up and taught me a new way of cultivating a meaningful lifestyle. Now this is something I can wholeheartedly stand behind.
Over the past 2 years I have making small changes in my life to bring me closer and closer to my goal of living zero waste. I am starting this blog to document my long journey towards a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. I have never felt so at home with a community online. I am glad to say that I have the support of so many lovely people here online who share the same morals as I do. Thank you to everyone who pushed me to start this blog and continue posting about my passion.