Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plastic Hurts

I had a couple of sad run ins with plastic today, some worse than others. The nursing home where I work is required to cover all residents' drink/food during transport, and although that rule has always been in place, it is being enforced recently. I often pick up food and drink from the kitchen for swallowing therapy, so this means every coffee I request (the residents love to drink coffee with me in therapy) will have a plastic disposable cover, and there is nothing I will be able to do about that. Actually, I washed the ones from today and am crossing my fingers they will reuse them for me since it is such a small scale of 2-3 coffees I am talking about and not the whole facility practice or something.

We made lemonade in therapy with my private kids today due to one kid's request to "make lemons" after seeing them as decor on a table in a cookbook during our last session. Don't ask me why I thought it would be a super cheap activity, but lemons were 3/$2, so buying 9 lemons to make sure we had enough for the 4 kids in therapy and I to squeeze as well as to make enough lemonade for the rest of the large family to enjoy, turned out to be a $6 and change activity. What did I find after filling the bottom of my basket with loose lemons (cashiers love it when I don't have my cloth produce!)? A BIG plastic bag of lemons for $4. By this time, I had already had a bit of a strange day and decided to "treat" myself, however I had not walked into the store prepared with alternative containers and could find nothing without plastic...the bakery, the candy, nothing. Ultimately makes me so happy not to consume the plastic or the extra calories, but not fun in the short term moment.

But anyway, the really sad part came about tonight when I went to pick up my Locally Grown order, an almost weekly ritual for a year now. When I ordered last week, I wrote a message to each grower that I would like for the item to be packaged in something other than plastic, and if that was not possible or available to please remove the item from my order. I sent it to each grower with my item order as well as with my overall order. When the volunteer brought me my order...all plastic bags! heart totally sunk. I walked straight to the pay spot not having any idea what I would/should do, but ultimately had to get out of line and talk to LG's owner, a man I have found to be amazing and inspiring. He was very surprised that the growers had not seen and acted on my message and said that I could leave the items and ask that they be removed from my total amount due. Really, I just felt like a loser. Everyone at LG appeared to understand what I was saying, especially because I clearly asked that the item be removed if only plastic was available for packaging, but it just seemed so wrong that I was sticking them with my plastic bagged food to hopefully be able to sell off by the end of the night. I timidly sat the items on the table with the extras and wrote my check for my glass jars of salsa, jam, and olive and goat cheese salad topping (with no lettuce). This is where I learn and grow lots from this experience.

Tonight's experience made me realize that this adventure stretches my mind. Maybe a plastic alternative is just not possible for this haven of amazing locally grown food I have found and enjoy. It may not be in anyone's best interest for me to give that up in order to save the world and my family from the toxins of plastic. I long to directly support farmers and the local economy. It is no problem to get my produce without a bag from the grocery store...or bring my own cloth...but I have little knowledge of or connection with that food and certainly not to its growers. I can also shop at the Farmer's Market and bring my own packaging, but not year round and not weekly (due to working on some Saturday morns). So, a compromise probably needs to be reached.

For now, I will look forward to the month that we journey into eating only locally grown food and probably pay Locally Grown back far more than I may have taken from them tonight. Actually, for now, I will enjoy the sound of my amazing husband baking something for me from scratch for a little treat before bed.


  1. Stephanie, you rock! I am so proud to call you my friend. I can imagine how hard that was at LG, and I am not sure if I would have been strong enough to do what you did! You are awesome! Don't worry about leaving it behind. I have picked up stuff off of that table to buy and have seen others doing the same. I will get off my butt now and stop checking my blogs because there is nothing I can read this morning better than your post! Thanks for sharing : )

  2. Wow. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support, C.

  3. Hi Stephanie! I've also thought 'round and 'round about the LG issue. Early on I just felt that geez, of anybody else around here, these folks should not be using plastic! But since I've also signed on with them as a grower, I sometimes get emails sent out among the growers looking for packaging solutions, or sharing a good deal on some solution they've found. Most of them lament the use of plastic, but since their profit margin is small and since plastic is not only cheap but some have found even free options in plastic... it's just a tough issue. I've also seen that sometimes when you send messages through the LG system, there is a delay in when they are delivered to the grower - so that may have been part of the problem as well.

  4. thanks for your insight, jeni. mark did mention that they are constantly trying to figure out better packaging solutions.