The Muse

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Take a Peek Inside

You know how it is when you are in an appliance showroom, you open the classy refrigerators and admire their gleaming pristine interiors?  You can’t help it right? Well, I can’t.

I looked at my refrigerator that same way this morning—clean white interior—all surfaces scrubbed. But then the kitchen behind me looked as though a tornado had dropped its payload on the counter tops.

Oh yes, I’m embarrassed to tell you I threw away a great amount of plastic—I didn’t know what else to do with it. Eugene is not taking recyclable plastic right now. Threw it AWAY?  There is NO AWAY, there is only out of my house and into landfills, and the oceans. CRAP.

When we lived in Hawaii, I thought all garbage should go into the volcano. Wouldn’t that take care of plastic? Turn it into rocks?

I have refrigerators on the brain, and right now, plastics too. I’ve written about refrigerators before, please forgive me for writing about them again, but living without one for six-months made me sensitive to having one or not having one.
 (I love having one.)

And they represent commitment.

When you have refrigerator stuffins’ spread all over the kitchen, you must clean it up. 

You are committed.

Although we didn’t have a refrigerator in Hawaii for a time, we did have an ice chest. Six months into our stay we bought a refrigerator, but then, we didn’t have enough solar power to run it.

We used the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, though, by buying ice and using that small space for essentials—like half and half for coffee, and butter for eggs and bread, and burrito makins’. (Fruit was out there on the trees, waiting to be picked.) The larger, main compartment of the refrigerator held our bottled water.

Fascinating how we can made-do when push comes to shove.

When I was a kid, we had an ice-box. And—just like the movies—an ice-man carried an enormous block of ice on his shoulder into the house and placed it into the ice-box. During the week the ice slowly melted, with the water flowing into a pan at the bottom of the box.  Grandma would take out the pan on a regular basis and throw away the collected water.

And then years later those old wooden refrigerators became a design item.

But back then we kids on the street would follow the ice truck, and the ice-man would give us shards of ice to suck on.

Simple pleasures, and memorable ones.

I’m not suggesting we go back to earlier times, but I am suggesting we appreciate what we’re got, and to know that we are resourceful people.

And all those sandwiches I carried to school were wrapped in waxed paper, not plastic. (Have you ever had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cratered in the center by the apple that molded itself into it?)

Of late I have been using plastic bags instead of paper bags—you know to save the trees, but a day ago my Grandson reminded me that paper bags are recyclable, and if we throw the paper onto the ground it will be gone in a day or so. (Especially in wet Eugene.) "If a fish eats the paper," smart Grandson continued. "He would probably spit it out for it tastes bad, or if he swallowed it, it wouldn't kill him."

Now, since we, especially in the US, use plastic bags on a regular basis, great amounts end up in the ocean choking sea life either with them getting tangled in it or by eating it. I don’t know why they eat it—some bags resemble jellyfish when floating in the water, and some sea-life eat jellyfish. Other plastic strips must look like worms or kelp, and even sand-sized particles of plastic get scooped up by scavengers. Unbeknown to a Momma albatross, and other sea birds, she feeds these particles to her babies.

Gone babies.

Oh dear, I didn’t mean for this to be a muck-raker—maybe an awareness-upper, for I am suffering over the plastic issue.  I began with refrigerators which being made largely of plastic, are a good use for it.

But bags? That’s another story.

Twenty years ago when two friends and I traveled in Germany we saw that no grocery stores provided bags. We even placed produce on a scale, weighted it, and the scale spit out the price on a stamp. We stuck the stamp to the produce, but did not bag the apples oranges, lettuce or whatever.

Customers either brought their own bags, or wheeled their groceries out to the car in their grocery cart and transferred them into a box in the car’s trunk. At home, they carried in the box, emptied the groceries , and replaced the box back into the car.

Simple. Easy.

I came home from Germany championing the cause of no paper or plastic bags. “Carry your own twine, cloth, or paper bag,” I said. Then what did I do? I fell into the lazy zone, and let the grocers bag my groceries.

And even in Eugene Oregon, who this past year created a ban on plastic bags, I would forget my bags and buy paper ones. We live just outside Eugene, in Junction City, and the Grocery here uses plastic bags.

I fell into the trap.

But I have climbed out. Yesterday I filled the car with my cloth bags. (And, of course, we can reuse paper bags if we have them.)

Thanks for reading. Hey, I think I should begin selling reusable bags. I need to come up with a clever design though—maybe quotes, I love quotes. When I came back from Germany, I tried giving away reusable bags and nobody wanted them.

I was ahead of the time.

Now reusable bags are being sold all over the place. People are even making grocery bags out of kitty litter bags and chicken food bags.

 Many thanks for being here,

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