Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest blog #10: Mrs. McMullen-Laird's three-year journey

"In April of 2008, I read an article about the North Pacific Gyres and the floating continent of plastic formed there.  I felt so ashamed of us all that we could damage the ocean in this way by our heedless disposal of trash.  The fact that plastic never goes away and that the trash hurts animals gave me even more shame.  I decided at that moment that my family would purchase all of our food in non-plastic containers or wrappers.  (Of course, I wouldn't let my family starve.)  I felt like that was the least I could do.  My family had mixed reactions to this declaration!  One felt like it was spitting in the wind and would do nothing in the face of the mountains of plastic water bottles in landfills and in the plastic continent.  Another one was angry that he could not buy a yogurt or a bag of chips or breakfast cereal.  Off I went armed with determination and several bags of plastic bags (saved from the prior purchases and washed), glass containers and my reusable shopping bags.  Over the years I have learned all about the bulk sections in our local stores.  I reuse even the paper bags, crossing out the number and adding the new one.  I bet I use them twelve times!  Accidents were expected - once, farina got through a hole in a paper bag and dusted my broccoli.  Sometimes it is hard to get things you are so accustomed to having. For me, yogurt is a good example. Yogurt always comes in plastic packaging, and so I couldn't buy it.  I wanted yogurt, and after three months of not having yogurt, I decided to start making it myself. Now I routinely make my own yogurt.  Bread is available from the bakery shelf, most pasta and grains can be purchased in the bulk section, produce is easy, and the stuff we shouldn't eat like snacks and prepared foods are no longer in the running for us.  It has actually made my shopping easier since I eliminate about ninety percent of the offerings in a typical grocery store.  Cheese has been difficult because even if I ask them to wrap it in paper for me the paper they use often  has a plastic lining!  Cheese just doesn't do well in paper I have discovered. So, it has been almost three years, it is more work.  Sometimes the cashier notices that nothing in my order is in plastic.  Then we have a little conversation about it and they always say, 'more people should do what you are doing.'"
~Mrs. McMullen-Laird
We should be incredibly proud of what Mrs. McMullen-Laird doing, but not let her be the only example. (And I like the way she made the executive decision for the family.) I believe it is incredibly important to address issues of environment, justice, and ethics in family life, with parents serving as role models. We may be in for some kind of generational change, but who knows to what extent...

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