Monday, April 02, 2007

(Pla)sticky Matter

Plastic bags ban!

Plastic entered our lives through soap boxes, mugs, buckets and graduated to milk packets, biscuits etc. as far as I can remember. But the recycle 'rajas' and 'ranis' that we are(were?) every smelly milk cover was collected and sold to the plastic-paper-karan(?) and we lived guilt-free. Atleast a majority of my life in India, one had to carry their own bag to vegetable and grocery stores or risk carry the items in newspaper packets. Even by the time, every 'potti kadai' began generously giving out polythene bags(one cannot find tinier bags than those!) I hardly knew about the non bio-degradability of plastics and its effect on the environment. My first jolt came when cattle consuming these polythene bags from the rubbish bins made news!

When I moved abroad, the use and throw mentality was so hard to digest, me from the 'recycle kingdom' and all!! When we first moved, my husband couldn't believe his eyes at the mound of grocery bags, the yogurt cans that I had hoarded(which were eventually trashed much to my dismay)!! Later I found recycle bins in our community and just when I was laying back satisfied in doing my bit, came the crashing news that the community could no longer support recylcing!! It took another few months for me to find about the recycle center in our town and took another few months to locate it only to find that it needed membership!

After all the setbacks, I decided to carry my own bags wherever I went and not use the plastic bags. From my India trip, I had got special jute bags for that reason! My husband walked a safe 10 feet away from me whenever I was with my gunny bag! And he preferred waiting in the car when I stood in the billing counter ready to rattle the cashiers who are used to the 'scan-drop in bag' routine with my 'no bags, please' cry! Even my friends who came to visit, scared to listen to my 'green' lecture, hid plastic bags in their cars and hand carried all their items!

Then, we moved again! This time we found ourselves short of plastic bags during the packing process and my husband was so satisfied to have got the chance to hit back at me for the state I had brought the house to! Then, I began resusing the bags by carrying old bags back to the store which didn't seem like a good idea as people began to suspect I was trying to shop-lift(though once the cashier paid me 3 c for each bag for reusing and it happened infront of my in-laws!!)!

It's not just plastic bags, I am equally averse to storing/heating food in plastic containers after being scared by articles like these! I have a collection of tiny stainless steel containers which I use to store food, send lunch to my daughter etc. After a few weeks, my daughter's teacher suggested that I buy lunch boxes available in stores as there was not enough room for my containers in their lunch table(and it was then that I saw that most kids got lunch in disposable brown bags and ziploc bags)!!

To encourage my daughter to drink more water, all sources point to keeping a water bottle in a prominent place which will tempt/remind about drinking water from time to time. I, as usual, was at the mercy of the internet to research about any 'safe plastic' bottles to store water in. The debate about plastic safety still going strong, I am now wondering if water from plastic bottle is better than no water at all... Any ideas?

16 comments:

ttm said...

Reminded of my dad's successful lectures to sweetshop owners to use cellotape to pottalam-kattufy mixture, sweets, pakodas...the fictional story of surgery done on a small boy who had swallowed a stapler pin was the culprit.

Kowsalya Subramanian said...

A very nice eco-friendly post :) I do the same thing here in India, so can totally relate.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Raju said...

wow... super eco-friendly dhan.. I cant believe someone sticking to it even in the US.. kudos to you..

Being a 'plastic man' by myself, I can say that water from plastic should be no problem at all, since the plasticizers dont like water one bit.. but the same cant be said about oil, milk or other hot food.

Syam said...

//the recycle 'rajas' and 'ranis' that we are(were?) //

you are rite...anga irundha varaikum oru plastic bag ah evalo time recycle panni irukom....athu pinju pona kooda puncture otti use panra alavukku :-)

Syam said...

etho health pathi oru post potta maathiri iruku...ippo kanom :-)

Me said...

..i recycle..i have even thought about carrying a bag...but am not brave enough...Me2 u kalakings

Syam...adhu old post...she just added a tag to it...

Me too said...

ttm, this stapler packing has happened in our household with the person who packed it screaming at us to be careful while opening the packet!!

kowsalya, welcome and thanks for your comments!

raju, I read somewhere about the use of specific numbered(specified mostly at the bottom) plastic bottles. Don't know how far it is true for most bottles from peanut butter to coffee powder to oil comes in plastic bottles #1(which doesn't appear in the safe list) that freaks me!

syam, inga vandha recycle-a, engalukku bicycle-ay theriyadhungaraangey!! Yes, like 'me' already explained, it links to an old post.

me, "i have even thought about carrying a bag..." - dhegiriyama, start a fashion/revolution, me!!

Deepa said...

Shop-Rite gives 20 cents back if you re-use their plastic bag instead of getting a new one. Teriyuma indha news?

Me too said...

deepa, appadiya? iththana naal theriyaama poche!! :(

Jinguchakka said...

a very thoughtful post. A related thought. Tell me which is worse, wasting precious water or using paper destroying trees in the process? :-)

Me too said...

jc, I am trying to clear up my head and you are bringing in more issues!!

Ramya harish said...

romba nalla post.. US la probably it may happen.. but here, i cant imagine.. how about tupper ware containers..?? are they harmful..we have a lot of them at home..
Even though we get mails about hazards of plastic from having water from water bottles like bisleri,aquafina which shud be crushed after use,..ppl continue to use them..
Even though grocery stores(like food world,reliance-chennai) swipe extra points on customer's card(provided by the shop) for people getting their own bags instead of the plastic ones which they give, nammaalunga andha cover ku dhan poraanga,.. I take my jute bag after seing that ad..points ku points ku.. plastics ku thada...

Me too said...

ramya, glad to find another jute bagger!! ;) I'm not sure what no.(inside those triangles underneath the bottle)the tupperwares have. check this latest report that came on nbc news. IMO, donot subject plasticwares to any extremities(high heat, cold).

Ramya harish said...

Aparna, good videos, gathered lot of info on plastic bottles to spread to others.. thanks ma

Deepa said...

Nice blog that you have here. Totally share your views on eco-friendliness and happy to see there is one more person thinking/acting like me on this issue.
Small q. I also hate storing in plastic. But what do u do abt milk cans ? I have even thought of transferring to steel vessels but konjam over-a thonichu ;-)

Me too said...

Deepa, welcome and thanks for your comments! Whether we store milk in steel vessels or not, the fact is that they come in plastic containers from the manufacturer. Throwing them in the recycle bin is the only consolation!