Lent & Plastic

18 May

Continuing on with our May focus on packaging, we’d like to welcome back a good friend to No Waste Wednesdays: Liz from Vancouver put together a few reflections from her recent fast from plastic…

This last Lent, my husband and I decided to fast from purchasing food in plastic packaging. It wasn’t as typical a sacrifice as chocolate or wine, but we felt it was an appropriate one when we began to recognize our latent addiction to plastic.  The fact that there is a swirling mass of non-biodegradable garbage in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas (!), I’m going to say that we are not alone in this addiction.

When family and friends asked me why we decided to fast from plastic I explained that a large part of our faith is stewardship, including the stewardship of land.  The Creation Care Crossroads group of MCC Ontario emphasizes the importance of personal choices in response to global issues: “Currently, humanity is facing a choice between two roads. We can continue on the road we are on, where environmental destruction continues and we do nothing to respond to climate change. Conversely, we can choose to take the road to sustainability, where humans and creation live in mutually beneficial ways.”

Hear more from MCC Ontario’s projects featured here on TV!

Fasting is abstaining from one thing in order to feast on another.  In our case this meant fasting from plastic packaging so that we can feast on the beauty of God’s creation.

Throughout Lent, we realized how unnecessary so much of our packaging waste is.  Why do oranges need to come in a plastic bag? They already come pre-packaged – it’s called a peel!

Again and again, we realized a common thread in the difficulties of buying naked food:  convenience.

Easy meals come in plastic.  And some unprocessed foods, like produce, weren’t even available without shrink-wrap.  Even at an organic grocer, I could not find cauliflower without plastic.  (Keep in mind, this is before farmer’s market season so we couldn’t buy directly from a grower.)

For 40 days, we could not conveniently peruse the supermarket and grab whatever ingredients we felt like that week.  We had to meal plan. Further, we had to plan our meals using ingredients we knew were available without packaging, or packaged in glass.  This meant that we did not purchase many dairy products like cheese, sour cream and yogurt.

Unfortunately, meal planning isn’t really an option when you’re already on the way to a friend’s place to watch the hockey game and you need to pick up a snack to contribute.  We found chips in a paper bag and it turned out to have another plastic bag inside! Bulk pretzels in a reusable sack and a glass jar of Nutella became our failsafe ‘quick grab’ munchies.

Looking back on our experience, I must stress that purchasing food that is free from plastic is not as difficult as I thought it would be.  Yes it took more effort, but it did not make life unbearable.  Life without cheese is still worth living and my husband did not suffer when he passed up on coffee ‘to-go’ when he didn’t have a travel mug.  Quality food ingredients without packaging may cost more, but you make up the difference by refraining from buying snacks at the check-out.

I’m encouraged to see more and more companies changing their packaging options.  Just yesterday I was introduced to a local brand of natural dish and laundry detergents that are packaged in returnable glass bottles (live-for-tomorrow).  When a company impresses you, why not tell them?  They deserve a pat on the back for decisions that ultimately may cost them more.  Also, don’t hesitate from emailing companies to encourage them to look for sustainable ways of packaging your favourite products.  So far I have received positive responses from each company I’ve contacted.

Thanks for your thoughts Liz – you inspire many!

Until next week – remember to enter our contest by emailing us a photo of you with your favourite reusable mug by May 31st – please send submissions to nowastewednesdays@gmail.com to win free coffee!

(photos from marinebuzz.com, 123rf.com, flckr.com, etsy.com)


2 Responses to “Lent & Plastic”

  1. angelika May 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    i am so trying this next Lent. maybe even before. i almost thought “there’s no way i can do this” when i read about giving up cheese, but then i remembered that a couple of local delis in abbotsford slice their cheese and wrap it in paper for you. phew! but i am definitely going to have to research yogurt in glass… hmm… great blog!

    • Darren June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      thanks for the shout out to the Creation Care Crossroads. Fantastic plastic series and really great ideas. Love it!

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