Our parents, the grandparents of our children, are great. They are supportive of our kids and encourage them in all of their pursuits. Currently, one of our kids is gearing up for the school science fair. For a first grader, this means she is making dinosaur bones out of salt-dough, making a poster with a drawing of a T-rex and creating a “dig” with a bucket of sand and the salt-dough bones.
Seeing this interest in dinosaurs, one of their grandmothers lovingly sent a dinosaur bone-making kit. So that our other daughter would have something also, her grandmother sent her a petri dish/agar set so she could take swabs of things and grow her own cultures. Both kits are awesome. Both kits, however, are plasticulated.
Of course, when I opened the package I could have packed everything up and sent it back, but our kids were right there as the package came (addressed to them) and when I opened it, there was no turning back. I can be tough, but I didn’t feel like working through this one.
From the beginning of this experience, wehave tried to approach it sincerely, but without driving ourselves crazy. Part of the thing was also to use the first couple of months to figure out where the gaps were and to close them up. Clearly, having folks send us plastic stuff is one of the gaps – and one which would be easily covered. For one, there is nothing that says we must accept plastic that arrives in the mail, but the other thing we need to do is educate folks around us as to what we are up to. In this case, we didn’t do either. In this case, however, we will learn and move forward. That, and look forward to seeing what types of animals live in between our child’s toes.
Steve has been really good about getting us off mailing lists. I did my part and got us onto electronic mailings (and off of paper mailings) from the girls’ college funds. Legally, however, if we make a donation to their college funds then they must BY LAW send us paper mail, and it will have a little plastic window in it. Soooo if you’ve been following me so far, we can avoid any plastic coming in from them by not planning for the girls’ future. That seems a bit counter-productive, although I do note that plastic windows in envelopes is something that the myplasticfreelife.com woman decided she just had to live with, and I do appreciate that this effort is reducing our mail overall.
Steve and I haven’t made any purchases for a couple days and we note that not buying stuff is a really easy way to avoid buying stuff that’s plastic.
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Xyla is down with zero-plastic-influx and proudly displays a gift she wrapped for a friend. Reused Christmas tissue paper and yarn make this a plastic-free endeavor. Had we not started to think deeply about our relationship with plastic, this gift would have typically been covered in tape.
The challenge of zero-plastic-influx will undoubtedly inspire us to look at how far we are willing to take this whole thing. I am ready to go all of the way (or as far as we can) but at what point does one decide that the lack of something, tape, say, actually puts a damper on creativity and keeps our kids from being able to take their imaginations and art where they want it to go? Tape be gone! As one of the more popular art materials in our house, our kids will need to find different materials with which to create crazy sculptures and creations.
I will say that I am looking forward to sending a package tied with twine. If REI won’t do it, I will.
I received a gift card from REI for Christmas and I decided to redeem it today. I knew that any package they sent me would include plastic of some sort and that the box would arrive after the first of the year (our official start date), but, hell, I wanted a new pair of pants so I decided to go for it. Failed. Already. Zero-plastic-influx was going to have to take a hit.
The pants are 3% spandex (fancy name for plastic?) and 97% cotton. I guess I will need to find a 100% cotton pant moving forward, but I feel confident that none of the pants I currently own will need to be replaced over the next year. I Suppose I have spandex to thank for that.
Anyway, to feel a bit better about the whole plastic pant shipping thing, I decided to see what the REI sales representative could do for me in terms of plastic-free shipping. Despite my attempt to appeal to her Northwest/Seattle, outdoor-loving, need-to-be-ahead-of-the-curve-in-terms-of-funky mossiness, she claimed that she had no control over the way my pants were shipped; this despite her admission that “Yeah, we’re into green.”
Apparently the plastic bag the pants will come in are to protect it from any moisture it may come into contact. (Dog pee?) I tried to see if they could wrap my box in twine instead of using tape. No go. “Hey, I won’t hold you accountable if the twine comes off and my pants land on the floor of the Salt Lake City UPS distribution center. Let’s just see what happens,” I said to the woman. Suppose REI just isn’t that funky.
Sure, I didn’t really press the issue – it was a half-assed effort on my part. Mostly, I was just curious – just feeling the whole thing out. Clearly this could have been a big Michael Moore moment complete with cameras and tirades and heart-felt speeches about the churning mass of plastic so soupingly loving our oceans, but I’m not quite ready for that yet. We’ll see.