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Chatterbox: Looking backward to move forward


What are we concerned about? Today, there are so many issues, they must be prioritized.

Insomuch as that we cannot survive without Earth, one would think survival of the planet is a knee-jerk priority, but the issues are numerous and intense. Included are some products and resource gathering technologies that didn’t exist even a scant 50 years ago, but if it means our salvation, it would seem we’d happily retreat and regroup, fast.

Old school or new tech, the list is endless: air pollution, mountain top removal; over resourcing; slurry, illegal dumping, but one thing we can readily start working on is re-creating jobs and/by reducing plastic use. Recycling is failing. Plastic, especially packaging, is a huge issue – no matter how many arts and crafts we do with it. Turning margarine containers into Christmas decorations will never make them biodegradable. Even as we recycle plastic into better things with longer lives, so what? We need to intensely limit the manufacturing of plastic, not turn it into the non-biodegradable trash of tomorrow.

Worse, manufacturers have known since the inception of plastic food containers that they are carcinogenic. BPH-free containers create other health issues. Plus, after what’s typically a single use, plastic items wreck havoc on the flora and fauna during the centuries they take to decompose; even the micro-dust from grinding them down has become a problem.

Reducing plastic by returning to former practices that are less convenient is a hassle, sure, but we’ve done it before and we can do it again. Besides, it would create needed jobs. Jobs for more expert workers are growing increasingly less viable today in America, but jobs requiring minimal training are disappearing as the nation’s businesses put customers to work instead of paid employees, all while corporate rule makes life more expensive.

As for the packaging, a better plan is in process in nations that are better at it than we, because they never had the resources or the land mass that America has. We can learn a thing or two from them. We, also, can adjust to life without the convenient but completely negative habit of throwing everything away.

Many years ago, I asked a Paris shopkeeper if I could take a bottled water with me. He looked at me as though I had three heads. He not only couldn’t let me do it, he absolutely couldn’t understand why anyone would want to. Now, sadly, disposables have begun to permeate some nations abroad as the avarice of their producers grows. Let’s hope it ends soon because they don’t have anywhere to drop it except the ocean.

Ocean trash is killing our wildlife at record rates, but plastic can be replaced by the same packaging that it once replaced. As for broken glass on aisle 10, shipping cartons can be intensely improved to be stronger, sectioned to cushion the glass containers and padded with corrugated cardboard. Yes, cardboard also claims a footprint but it is renewable, can be made to be more reusable, is recycled in an eco-friendly way, and let’s never overlook the resources of hemp and fast growing bamboo.

Yes, I do remember, once dropping a bottle of Prell Shampoo while I was in the shower when I was a very little kid. Yes, it shattered and I required my mother’s help; there was no stepping barefoot out of the shower with all that broken glass on the floor. Still, for the sake of our ultimate survival, we can make many adjustments.

We each have a view, our personal opinion about what we want to see unchanged, eliminated, modified, and accomplished. We each prioritize differently. Whatever our agenda is, it’s best formulated with a large, long-term, major impact frame of reference. It’s also best to give priority to that which is most important to most people.

Around the world, other nations smaller than America, with less manpower and far less fanfare, are doing their part to return to a daily life that is more planet-wise, people kind and job friendly, to the advantage of everyone including Mother Earth. We’d better get with the program or we’ll be done under by more than just a smart global society.

While we toss away trillions of tons of plastic packaging that could be made from eco-friendly materials, jobs in collection and resourcing remain undeveloped, and our one-use plastic ends up inside a whale.

Sometimes, we must go backward a little in order to go forward a lot. Returning to clean, reusable packaging, and overcoming our plastic addiction is just the start.