Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Summer’s heat huffs and
puffs September’s cool air in
like a cold bellows.
Hang in here with me today for a bit of a convoluted, twisty rant. My little burg wants to ban plastic shopping bags. Today I won’t share my opinion about whether I oppose or support the ban but will discuss a couple different challenges to the entire argument. I am a master recycler; I reuse, reduce, recycle, and re-purpose. I really don’t need government spending my tax dollars banning me and retailers from the availability of certain products, but I might like more options for recycling.
Oregonians are master recyclers. We led the way in 1971 with the first bottle return bill. You pay a few cents for your bottle and get those few cents back when you return the bottle. This really isn’t a new idea. Dairies always did this; you returned the bottles your milk came in and they did not charge you for the bottle because they could sterilize and reuse the bottles.
By 1971 soda pop and other drinks were becoming more available. Cans and plastic bottles were also subject to the bottle bill. Both aluminum and glass are highly recyclable. Plastic, not so much.
The error with plastic is somebody figured out how to make a profit from the use of non-renewable, non-bio-degradable fossil fuels to make plastic materials before they discovered plastics could be made from sustainable, bio-degradable industrial hemp. Yes, the infamous cannabis plant, recent materials of the finest of ropes and canvases, became maligned because of an association with the use of the flowering variety some people use and abuse. Plastics made from hemp was developed in the 1930s about the same time Henry Anslinger decided the flowering bud of the cannabis plant was a societally threatening drug.
We know now there is a difference between hemp and its flower, and use of the cannabis plant is nowhere near the threat Anslinger made it out to be. It’s not too late to change our world. We could stop using fossil fuels to make plastics and re-tool to use industrial hemp. This would preserve our precious fossil fuels (really the cushion for the earth’s crust, which we are robbing and depleting) and would create jobs as well, in the re-engineering and re-tooling, re-education of current and future workers, and new yearly sustainable agricultural opportunities. Plastics made with hemp do not pollute the water and the air as much as the production of plastics made with fossil fuels. Hemp is bio-degradable where fossil fuel plastics are not.
There still would be the available profit to be made. Savvy recyclers and earth conscious citizens would be more willing to purchase and recycle products in sustainable, bio-degradable plastics. Bottles aren’t the only plastic in question. Think of all the products you bring into your home that has plastic around it. The wrapper on your TP and paper towels, around that package of undies, the inside package in the box of crackers or that holds the potato chips or cookies or pasta, the little dome that holds the box lid off your take-out pizza, the Styrofoam container your leftover restaurant meal comes home in or around the new electronic equipment you just bought, and the plastic bags you bring all this stuff home in.
We don’t have sustainable, bio-degradable plastics; we have indestructible-live-forever fossil fuel plastics. Most of us little average folk make efforts to reuse and recycle our plastics, at least the plastic bags that come into the home from so many stores. I personally love plastic bags. What I am not able to reuse, I donate to my local lending library as protective plastic bags are always in need for library users who forget their book bags, especially on rainy days. Our waste management collectors give few options for home/curbside recycling of plastic products taking only certain kinds. They make it more difficult by saying they take “these” plastics and not “those”. If they don’t take “those”, supply consumers with a different bin for “those” instead of complaining about how the plastics jam up the processing machines.
One of the few things I dislike about recycling is how the return of cans and bottles has disintegrated. Stores used to have staff available to count your bottles. Since 2008, when the country was crippled by the manipulations of Big Banking and Big Business, even grocery stores are paying the price. They think offering automated machine is the answer. The spaces that house these machines end up dirty, stinking, and unkempt, and the machines regularly do not function; staff spends their time unjamming the machines and cleaning the area rather than helping customers count their returnables. I remember the humans who used to count the bottles were required by their employers to be clean, and they always functioned even when cranky. I would take a surly attitude from a human anytime over the disgusting smells of the bottle return rooms.
I’ve found a couple of acceptable alternatives to having to use these awful places. I thought about soliciting a local Boy Scout and contributing the money to him, but that would mean I would have to remember he was coming once a month or so, and Boy Scouts are already so busy. I can barely keep track of myself let alone when to have recyclables ready for someone else in addition to the weekly curbside collection. So occasionally, I bag my bottles and put them out by the street a few bags at a time for the bike brigade, which is my term for the local homeless crew who cruise the streets at night on their bicycles looking to scavenge whatever has been left street side. They are welcome to it; being unemployed they have plenty of time to spend in the bottle room fussing with the machine and getting the few cents back.
Even better is a local store who has a bin for cents-back recyclables where you can leave the bottles and they give the money to local schools. The bin is clean, small, and on wheels, and the staff changes the bin out many times during the day as it fills so the smell never accumulates. They deal with the mess and the smell, and being humans the machine never jams. I like knowing they donate the money toward the education of our young people.
It all comes down to being a conscious consumer. What comes into your home must eventually go out. How it goes out is just as important as how it comes in. Do your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and use your voice to help your family and community re-think how and why it uses plastic products.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – little brown birds on the wire outside my door; the rain fooling my sedums into thinking it’s spring again and their creamy white pink blossoms; silvery snow capped mountain clouds; and the rosy cloudish alpenglow.
Currently Reading – The World Beneath (2009, fiction) by Cate Kennedy; Finding Peter: A True Story of the Hand of Providence and Evidence of Life After Death (2015, biography); Shakespeare’s Wife (2009, history) by Germaine Greer. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Hearing birds chirping outside my open door and looking up to see them lined up on the electrical wires like notes on a musical score.
- Glorious late summer days.
- September flipping the switch to cool here in the Pacific Northwest. The cooling of September.
- The sound of rain.
- Opening doors for fresh air during the warm part of the day and closing them when it cools off.
- Wearing layers again.
- Finding some pretty black flats (on sale!) to wear with my new dress for my nephew’s wedding next week.
- A local farm that grows Oregon Albion strawberries all summer.
- Local farmers and gardeners.
- The generous juice of limes.
- A local clinic being open on Saturday so I could get a blood draw done at my convenience and not having to use sick time or ask for sick leave from work.
- A holiday weekend and taking an extra vacation day so I have a 4 day holiday. If I can’t make the volume of money I’d like at least I have paid holidays and paid vacation time.
- Shoe boxes. So handy for organizing.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch