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Blog item: The Plastic Decision: How I Learned NOT to Love the Bomb

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2 comments, last: Jul-11-2009   Add a comment   Author:  PT (Jul-11-2009)    Play a Video
Categories: Philosophical & Quality of Life, Pollution, Population Growth and Control, Sustainable Living

Plastic pollution as seen in the oceanGreetings. I continue to be alarmed as my awareness grows about chemicals in our global environment. It is not just "super-fund" sites (a term in the USA for government-recognized highly toxic areas that need large-scale funding to clean up) that are a danger, it is chemicals that are spreading into many parts of our ecosystem. One article that documents that can be read here.  The plastic industry is the largest contributor to this very real crisis.

I urge all my readers to try to eat organic food (and "organic" meat) as much as possible, and if those are too hard to find or too expensive, to go with all-natural products, which avoid the directly added chemicals.

There is more to know about, for example, strawberries are considered one of the most toxic fruits due to heavy absorption of pesticides directly into the body of the strawberry during growth. That is not a great loss, as supermarket strawberries are just slightly more tasty than cardboard. Of course organic strawberries avoid this issue of pesticides, for the most part. In any case, intelligent food shopping is essential.

As far as water, that depends where you live. It also depends who is drinking the water. Children are more sensitive to every kind of toxin, such as lead, but also the other chemicals that are in drinking water. Living in New York City I am lucky, as it appears that the worst and only major contaminant is the chlorine that is added to guarantee a low level of bacteria. I have a lot to learn, but my understanding is that chlorine associated with increased risk of bladder cancer, although the greatest cause of bladder cancer is cigarette smoking followed by other carcinogens. Still, when I moved to my house in Queens, NY I had the water tested by a laboratory, and they found lead as well, at a borderline level just slightly above government guidelines when the tap was turned on. This was caused by a lead water main, not by lead in the NYC drinking water. In any case, I had filters installed to eliminate the lead and the chlorine, and had the water re-tested, and it all worked out fine. My filters (two stages) are from Selecto. I am not saying they are the best, but they were recommended to me by an engineer, and testing proved that they worked. One filter take out any heavy metals including lead, but allow flouride to pass (which I want). The other filters out bacteria and particles and sediment. I think I remember this correctly!

[NOTE: none of the companies referenced here in a positive have provided any fees for being mentioned. This article is NON-COMMERCIAL. If one day they advertise, there would be full disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest.]

Now, one more thing: what can we do to improve the situation of a society that is contaminating its own water? To be graphic, we are peeing in the water we drink – but worse. I will offer one suggestion, on which I have been working: it is to limit the amount of plastic in packaging for all items purchased (and to limit purchases in general).

At the supermarket (Stop and Shop does have a good deal of organic and all-natural products for sale), I try to buy 1) products with no packaging at all, 2) products packaged in glass and/or metal, both of which are 100% recyclable (plastics do not fully recycle, they "down-cycle"), 3) products packaged in plastics type 1 and 2, as shown in the little recycling triangle. Types 1 and 2 can be recycled (down-cycled), and in some communities type 5 is also accepted, you can find out from your local government offices.

This morning I wanted to buy supermarket veggieburgers, made by Franklin Farms, which I found out is now owned by a different company, Veggieland. Still, I have been avoiding those veggieburgers, and again did so today, because their plastic is labeled type 7, which can not be recycled. And, I am proud to say, I decided to look them up on the Internet and tell them about my decision in a polite but clear manner, and to ask them why they do not use type 1 plastic (which is very similar in function and appearance) or even one of the new bio-plastics some companies are starting to use, which are fully compostable (one such company, and I applaud them, is organicgirl. I will let you all know when Veggieland responds. Indeed, I am trying to learn more about how companies can move into less harmful packaging while still surviving financially. My guess is that they could do so in many cases, but have not given it nearly enough thought, nor have they in many cases made a marketing advantage from their "green" choices. They should.

That's it for now. If you have any interesting plastic or packaging stories or suggestions, please let the community and me know about it.

Related reading:
  From Farm To Fork (Feb-1-2014)
  Commodification Of Water (Aug-11-2011)
  A World Of Plastic (Article And InfoGraphic) (Aug-2-2011)
  "If your experience is that your food comes from ..." (Jul-19-2011)
  The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics (Jul-7-2011)
  I Think This Is A Good Idea, At Least Where I Li... (May-13-2011)
  Recycling? What A Waste. (Oct-17-2010)
  New Mushroom-Based Packaging Could Replace Styro... (Sep-16-2010)
  Vegan Jelloware Re-Invents The Disposable Cup (Aug-14-2010)
  Dirty Little Secret: Who Wants To Live Forever (... (May-19-2010)

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Comment by: ausearth (ausearth) (Jul-11-2009)   Web site
Our grandparents lived a healthier life.
They had no need for plastic sauce on plastic salad.
Avoid the processed, you can.
Grow what you can.
Educate and pray.
Barby has evolved to human and is deafened by her defectiveness.
Comment by:  speeva (Sevdalina Peeva) (Jul-11-2009)   Web site

Aside of packaging problem I agree that many fruits and vegetables in supermarkets are totally tasteless, especially strawberries. So urban farming and growing your own deserve a try!

2 months ago I planted 2 strawberry plants in a container on my balcony. The ad I had seen in a local newspaper says that they will grow vines and will give fruits from may to october - for now I have picked only 2 /taste and smell perfect/ and there are 5 blooms right now - all on the one plant, other has a plenty of leaves but still doesn't bloom. O, and there are about 10 vines - it is pretty amazing to watch them growing.

If it is posible to buy such a miraculous strawberries here in Bulgaria, should be possible to buy such in USA as well. They are supposed to live more than one season, and owner/gardener could decide if to use any chemicals - fertilisers, pesticides and so on. I used good soil to fill containers and now - only some tap water.

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About author/contributor Member: PT (David Alexander) PT (David Alexander)
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Member: PT (David Alexander) My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.

Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.

I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.

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