Just say “No, thanks”

Me and her sitting in a tree, K_I-S-S-I-N-G.There is nothing good about all the people who have died from the virus, many of them unnecessarily. And I do not know which is worse: discovering how long is takes to spool up vaccine production and delivery, or discovering we’d been lied to about how long it takes to spool up vaccine production and delivery.

But it’s been great for plastics manufacturers.

When, pre-Covid, I was a guest of Gettysburg Hospital, a pitcher of water sat on my bedside table, and when I had emptied it, a nurse took it to the ice machine, refilled it and brought it back to me.

A few weeks back, I again had cause for a two-day visit. No more water pitcher, only the Styrofoam “glass” with its plastic cover and plastic straw, and when I had drained the contents, a nurse picked up the empty container and tossed it in the trash, then brought me a fresh glass of ice. Multiply my several glasses a day by the number of patients and staff in the hospital – that’s a lot of land filler.

I well understand the rationale, but Covid means everything becomes single-use, even for the same patient.

In another venue: Back in the day, say, a year ago, I would take my stainless steel reusable coffee cup to my favorite coffee shop to be filled with my preferred brew. Then came Covid-19.

I stopped by on the way from someplace to someplace else, paid for the coffee – and received an appropriate-sized cup, which I filled from the coffee dispenser, then poured the contents into my reusable cup. I don’t recall whether that cup was paper or Styrofoam, but it definitely was single-use trash filler.

Like many of us confined to our homes, or at least barred from gathering with friends and fellow restaurant patrons, we order take-out from a rotating list of eateries we try to support. And until one evening this week, when we tried an eatery we’d not every order has come with a supply of plastic utensils.

People ordering takeout probably have knives, forks and spoons at home.

Back in the 1970s, the plastics industry footed research into which of their products could be economically collected and turned into new products. They began molding the ubiquitous triangular recycling emblem into most of their products. Consumers generally became convinced the symbol meant the product could be recycled.

Alas – and this is true –most of the marked products went to landfills. The industry decided there were way more profits in making and selling new plastic products than in recycling used ones.

Two notes: I recently read that Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars will be wrapped in recyclable wrappers beginning in Spring 2021. The downside is the wrappers must be returned to the store. But it’s a start, and the company says it is a step toward its 2025 goal for all its wrappings being recyclable.

And this week, when I picked up a take-out order from Fourscore Beer Company, the young woman behind the counter asked whether I needed the utensils. I thanked her for asking; I sometimes forget to say “No” to the extra throwaway gear.

Just as we were noticing plastics in the food supply might not actually be good for us, along came Covid-19.

Saying “No, thank you” to the plastic knives, forks and straws we do not need anyway will not solve our plastics problems, but it will be a start. And the plastic makers will not be bankrupt.

Thanks for sharing the ride. I hope you enjoyed the journey. Comments are welcome. Before you go, please tap a button to share.

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