My River of Plastic

At the supermarket, I said nothing as the old guy bagging my groceries stuffed a gallon bucket of ice cream into a plastic bag and dropped it into my cart.

I am not sure what purpose the bag served.

My ice cream was already packaged in a plastic pail.  One that came with its own handle. It certainly did not need a bag – but then who am I to question the way a guy does his job?

Besides, we have a million uses for plastic bags.

They are how I transport cat litter from the box to the trash can. They line the waste baskets in our bedroom and bathroom.  They accompany my wife when she digs ditch lilies to protect the roots. We use them for lunch bags, shoe bags and laundry bags.

The same also goes for plastic yogurt containers. We store left-overs and freeze soup in them. I use them at my workbench to hold nuts and bolts, along with odds and ends.

In short, we reuse much of the plastic that clutters our lives.

But I get it.

The world is awash in plastic.

I read somewhere that tiny Henderson Island, a dot of land in the eastern South Pacific, has the highest density of plastic debris recorded anywhere in the world.

But I doubt that.

The highest density of plastic debris found anywhere lies behind the door of our hall closet. It is where we put things we want to ignore until we can no longer ignore them.

Like plastic bags and yogurt containers – that pile up and pile up.

In that sense, our house has become a delta into which a river of plastic flows.

But all of this is part of a larger problem.

We love this river of plastic because we have found uses, reuses and re-purposes for it – but the tsunami keeps on coming – faster and faster, overwhelming our ability to get a handle on it.

It is almost as if affluence has become too much of a good thing.

So after I got home, I put away the groceries and stuffed all the plastic bags into a single bag and opened the hall door just a crack, only wide enough to quickly stuff the bags into storage and slam the door before everything that was being ignored made an issue of itself.

That is when my wife observed….

“You bought ice-cream.”

“I did.”

“I thought we were trying to diet.”

“We are,” I assured her, “but I needed the pail.”