Plastic baggies, and why we do things we know aren’t good

As I packed the kids lunches today, I reluctantly reached for the box of clear baggies for their sliced apples, another one for their tempeh sandwich. The environment is on my mind a lot, and I read so many articles. I know what is happening (for the most part) in other parts of the world. I strive to make a difference. To me, caring about climate change, clean air, water and food means caring about all animals and people. All our issues over racism, sexism, gun restrictions, and everything is trumped by the fact that if we don’t take care of our beautiful planet, we will all be gone.


Sure, it is just easier to enjoy the moment and hope that the future will work out somehow itself. Due to where I was born and the time I was born, I have enjoyed a good life. However, the really harsh part of the problems even those of us not dealing with poverty right now, is that it may not be us who pay the price, but our children. They will deal with the consequences of us not paying attention right now. In the end, the planet will be okay once it shakes us off, but we sure brought down a lot of beautiful creatures by our way of living too.


Back to the plastic baggies… I know there is an enormous swath of ocean filled with plastic. I know that each of those baggies will be around for hundreds of years, and that wildlife are choking on them. So why would I continue to do this? There is this feeling that it can be overwhelming to try and do everything, but that is not my issue. My problem is sheer laziness. I don’t have enough reusable plastic containers, and I wasn’t good about washing reusable sacs.


My friend told me about his parents who were raised by parents of the depression era in England. His mom would reuse his lunch bag over and over every day, she even washed out his sandwich bag. We all grew up in a time of convenience. It is easier to just grab the styrofoam or paper cup and throw it away than remember to carry a real cup with you.


Individual packaging to make lunches “easier” means we buy apples already sliced and in separate bags or plastic cups. In Portland, Oregon there is so much focus on reduce, reuse, recycle, it is probably one of the easiest places in the world to be “green”. We only have garbage pickup every other week, but compost and recycling every week. So that is a big incentive to make sure that anything that can be composted or recycled will be!

Baggies are thin and don’t take up much weight, so they get discarded. Am I a hypocrite because I take reusable bags to the grocery store but not reusable bags for all the produce I buy there?

We can’t do everything right, but the point of this rambling is, that I had an “aha” moment. I tend to focus on the consumption of animal products as that encompasses so many issues at once: animal cruelty, pollution, deforestation, water, climate change. I don’t understand how people can be aware that this is happening, but don’t stop their actions.

It is because we either need to have a real fear instilled.  Like in the depression when there wouldn’t have been enough money to be so wasteful. Or, it has to be incredibly easy and not too expensive. So, when people are deciding what to have for dinner, it is very hard for most to envision what the meal would look like without animal products. I believe if every fast food and grocery store had delicious vegan options at the same price, or less, as the animal versions, people would choose that.

I pledge to go invest in reusable tin containers so that I don’t have to feel that twinge of guilt every day. And then, I will move onto the next small thing. I will never be perfect, we can’t do everything but we can do something. I will make my carbon footprint as light as I can.