I love to cook – always have. One of the joys of being able to set my own schedule is that I can make time to keep up with old friends, make new friends, and cook food for every occasion that presents itself, even if it means editing until the wee hours of the morning and then putting a casserole in the oven at dawn. I love potluck dinners. I might have called myself the Queen of Potlucks, but I have too many friends with a much stronger claim to the title. But I was, for a while, the Queen of Plastic Wrap.
Transporting food in glass containers works fine, but unless they have snap-on lids (and most of mine are nearly as old as I am, so they don’t), those glass tops just don’t do the job. They slide off. Plastic containers with plastic lids? I never had many of those, probably because the ones I did have kept going off to picnics and never coming home. So, it was pyrex bowls covered in plastic wrap for me!! Two layers, so nothing leaks!!
Plastic wrap is not reusable, not recyclable, and not biodegradable. This stuff is terrible, which slowly dawned on me as I watched the news feeds showing ginormous islands of plastic floating in our oceans. Fortunately, the other thing I saw was savvy manufacturers starting to market alternatives. I began working toward eliminating as much plastic from my kitchen as I could.
I still don’t have those lovely new glass containers with snap-on lids – I would never be able to stuff them in the cabinets around my beloved pyrex. But now I have beeswax wraps (reusable and biodegradable) and still sometimes use aluminum foil (reusable and recyclable, aluminum being one of the most valuable things in the recycling stream). I have several sizes of silicone bags to replace plastic bags.
Recently, I bought some reusable straws that I can wave around in restaurants while telling the waiter/waitress “no straw please!” to head off the tossing of fistfuls of plastic onto our table anyway, because they seem to think I’m incapable of lifting a glass to my lips. (Do I really look THAT old?) And, over time, I’ve developed strategies to remember to take my reusable grocery bags and mesh produce bags with me when I go shopping. One of the disappointments of this private little campaign of mine is the fact that, except for the aluminum foil and reusable grocery bags, I had to buy all of the plastic alternatives online. So, my current project is lobbying our local supermarkets to stock these things
When I started Twisted Road with the aim of giving voice to the marginalized, one of the things I realized – urged on by some really talented writers – is that some of the most marginalized creatures on the planet live in rivers and oceans. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than 1 million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris. Meanwhile, we continue construct off-shore drilling rigs, and every day I hear people say “sure” when the bagger at the supermarket asks “Is plastic okay?”
I’ve published books and stories with environmental themes. I’ve published books and stories about people who can’t find jobs and the devastation that unemployment can inflict on families. The petroleum industry and the plastics manufacturers provide millions of jobs worldwide, but it’s also making a mess no one knows how to clean up. I don’t claim to know how we’ll find the balance between all the competing priorities, but I urge us all to work harder at finding it.
Coming Soon From Twisted Road Publications
August 2019: Echoed in My Bones, a story of race, class, and family by Lisa Sturm
September 2019: Dreaming the Marsh, an environmental fable by Elizabeth McCulloch