My Inconvenient Life Without Plastic

Nov 12, 2019
My Inconvenient Life Without Plastic


My inconvenient life without plastic began about a month ago when suddenly after years of environmental awareness, I decided to go the next step. Awareness is something that spurs on transformation and starts with small actions outside of our mechanical way of living. We develop awareness that allows us to connect ourselves and our actions to the living whole.

Before I continue with broad “we” statements, I want to make it clear that making these new efforts have been extremely inconvenient. The decision to not buy any single-use plastic has brought me to some realizations. These realizations are about myself and how I live, but also about large systems that are in place. Those systemic issues I believe cannot be solely remedied by regulation.

It’s going to take action from each of us.

Concerning spiritual transformation and the awakening of the planet, I have to take responsibility for my part if I expect life on earth to elevate. I need to walk my talk in terms of individual practices and ways of life. The Awareness School was not formed out of some lofty idea one day. It was organically born out of a wish to serve and give back to others what had changed my life. If I could experience this level of self-acceptance and freedom, as broken as I was, then anyone could. 

This was after almost eighteen years of practicing meditation, and specific presence exercises out and about in the world. With each level of freedom came the understanding that I have a duty to myself, to others and to the planet to become free of the ravages of ego that have allowed this whole schematic to occur. 

Our greed and thirst for power and dominion over anything and everything, especially Nature will be the human downfall, not the Earth’s. It is a symptom of a horrific disconnection from our Essence. Our ability to co-create our world in harmony with Nature depends on freedom from the egoic hold over us. 

It doesn’t much sound like I am talking about not buying plastic, but freedom and awareness fit into the puzzle of our actions, their consequences and our interconnectedness.

How we live contributes to the way we all live.

This may seem like an obvious statement, but most of us agree in thought and word, but not in deed.

For me, taking it to the next level started as an experiment that was inspired by Greta Thunberg and her recent trip to the USA via sailboat. The way that she holds herself to a non-hypocritical standard as she protests about climate change and all the injustice that stems from it, serves as an example for all of us. Her commitment and fortitude moved me. 

Greta Thunberg is an inspiration and points us to our future.

I began to question what I could do in my own life to help.

When I told the guy at the grocery store that I didn’t want my deli item wrapped in plastic, he commented that my small actions would never make a difference as long as someone is making money on plastic.

Waaaaaa? Is that true?

Nothing ever changes from the top down. It takes activism and individual action. If lots of people stop using single-use plastic, the lack of demand will affect that market. Boycotts and divestments have worked in the past, and living without single-use plastic is difficult because plastic is truly systemic. However, the amount we are using is over the top.

It’s going to have to be a lot more than eliminating straws folks.

I decided to try to see how possible it was for me to avoid single-use plastic. 

Things like not buying and not using plastic water bottles when offered have been well-established practices in my book. I haven’t taken or used a plastic bag in I don’t know how long… years. Compostable dog poop bags, compostable grocery soup containers, and no straws have also been in my repertoire for years.

I have brought my own containers to refill for twenty years.

However, now I am attempting to not buy anything wrapped in single-use plastic and from this short experiment, I am much more aware that we are inundated with plastic. Processed food, meat, fish, and cheese are hard to navigate. All meat is shipped to stores in plastic so that it doesn’t oxidize. It is then rewrapped in individual serving plastic for sales purposes. I thought I was doing so well having my meat wrapped in paper at Whole Foods only to learn it all gets shipped in plastic.

I have never been a purist or an extremist, but I am doing my best to avoid plastic as much as I can. This means I have to go to specific stores to get fresh pasta or directly to a farmer or fisherman so I can avoid the middleman. Some would say I am wasting as much gas going around finding these things and so am unable to offset the carbon footprint.

I am still flying hither and yon and have to remember to pack my own food and fill my water bottle before I get on the plane.

What about ordering soap nuts instead of using plastic containers of laundry detergent? Well, they get shipped halfway across the world to get them. 

Thank god for bulk sections…just don’t use the plastic bags.

And what is the deal with cauliflower?  Why is it all wrapped in plastic? No grocer has been able to answer that question for me and I have yet to find a store within a fifteen-mile radius that sells unwrapped cauliflower.

Solution: farmer’s market

Next conundrum I had to solve: Toilet paper wrap, pasta boxes, pens, toothbrushes, and cosmetics.

So there are solutions to all of these things, but they have brought up a whole lifestyle change. Going vegan offers its problems with lots of plastic-packaged faux products. Sticking to fruits, vegetables, pulses, beans is the way to go. Making my own pasta, almond milk, etc. is time I don’t have, but it begs me to ask the question about time and convenience.

If I want to live without single-use plastic, my life just got a whole lot more inconvenient. We, as a society, have become dependent on convenience because we are starved for time. Let the weaning begin. Let’s face it, I might not be able to go back to a life where I churn butter and make cheese, but I can damn sure take the time to cut up my fruit instead of buying it all cut up in a plastic tub. That just seems obvious to me.

My exercise has left me with a lot of questions and has changed my awareness. That is the first step with any kind of transformation. Here at the Awareness School, we often use strategies to do things we don’t like in order to see how attached we are to our likes and dislikes and how they contribute to a tremendous amount of suffering. To bring awareness to something inherent in our own personal system is the first step to realizing how automatically we live our lives.

Without that realization, there is no going forward.

It is the same with plastic and making environmental choices. We are at a critical moment in our history as humans here. The earth will go on without us, but it would certainly be wonderful to have us thriving in conjunction with what she needs from us and what we depend on from her. 


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