There are multiple layers to the fight against “stuff.” We must look closely at all of them: unneeded memorabilia, too many clothes, the way we overcomplicate our lives, large houses that cement excess, and everyday throwaway items. Addressing the latter, this is the first of many plastic-related posts.
This issue is just another type of mosquito. I’m in Indonesia again on a peanut of an island- Gili Air. Aside from those incessant biters, there are countless plastic bottles and other plastic materials weaving their way into the grass and sand as if they were cold and trying to make shelter. Seeing trash on a beautiful beach morning was jarring. Picking out pieces of plastic refuse from the saltwater felt heavy. Paradise no longer exists. I would like others to experience the beauty of this place but know it won’t be possible if everyone’s mentality and resulting behavior does not change.
I’ll pause for a moment to dissect what might seem contradictory. My work stems from the belief that people and the planet will be happier, healthier, and sustained though the generations if we lead simpler lives. It might seem that disposable items are perfect for making our lives simpler. That is their purpose and why they are popular. But I don’t believe they make our lives simpler.
When you have a reusable item, you don’t have to spend time or money or remember to pick up your disposable items at the store. You won’t run out. You have it; that’s it. No trash to pick up or throw away. A simpler life is also a healthy life. Plastics numbered 3, 6, and 7 should be avoided. While plastics numbered 1, 2, 4, and 5 are considered safer, 1 and 2 plastics are made only to be used once. You may think you are helping the planet by reusing them, but it can be harmful to your health. Also, they cannot be heated in the microwave or otherwise overheated.
A simple life is one where your actions are aligned with your priorities which hopefully include environmental responsibility. It is a life where you are connected to your food and the consequences of your actions directly. You don’t need plastic water bottles, cling wrap, sandwich bags, or freezer bags. There are easy alternatives. Let’s readjust our purchasing habits so there will someday again be beaches with only mosquitoes, no trash.