The giant jellyfish dangled from the ceiling–a vivid yellow and orange, almost luminous. Pretty until you stepped closer and realized it was composed entirely of ugly plastic garbage found washed up on the beach. Plastic buoys and plastic ropes. Plastic styrofoam pieces and plastic bottles. Plastic items you couldn’t even identify anymore.
It was early August and my husband and I had happened upon this strange art collection–which also included a sea turtle, clownfish, and starfish–while wandering the seaside town of Bandon, Oregon. Created by the Washed Ashore Project , the traveling exhibit (one of several) aims to “educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits.” After our visit, I did indeed feel like I’d been educated. Or rather re-educated, because I was already aware that this ubiquitous material is a huge environmental problem for a number of reasons (learn more at https://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ ). I also vowed to promptly make a positive change in my plastic-wasting habits and then….
Habits are such pesky things. Hard to break even when they threaten your very life. I kept waiting for an opportune time to try and deal with my plastic addiction, but the opportune time didn’t happen. And anyway, I thought, what’s the use? Giving up plastic completely would be impossible, wouldn’t it?
But I also kept thinking that maybe just a week would be do-able. Just a week of saying no to plastic when I’m shopping. Just a week of putting a moratorium on my mindless use of plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap and plastic gallon-size storage bags. Just a week of being more aware of the plastic stream flooding my home and life.
Maybe, by just being more aware, I could change my habits–a little or a lot.
So today is (well, was) the first day of my week without plastic. The plan is not to buy, waste, or dump anything made of plastic for seven days. Any plastic items I already have around are okay to use, but any plastic that has to be disposed of–and can’t be recycled–I’m going to save until the end of the week and …. well, I’m not sure exactly. Maybe make a sculpture or something. My husband has agreed, reluctantly, to participate. I didn’t tell him that we just ran out of plastic kitchen garbage bags.
I’ll keep a brief, plastic-oriented diary to share, and we’ll see what happens.
Thanks for reading!