Made of Plastic, and It's Not Fantastic

By Fawn Contreras, Northeastern PA Group



Made of plastic
and it's not fantastic
like Aqua had us singing.
Plastic poison in
our water and food
choking the life out of our world.
We still mass-produce
plastic products
packaged in plastic
to be sold and
bagged in plastic.
Consumed and discarded
never to break down,
very little to be recycled or reused.
It all ends up...
Plastic mountains.
Plastic shores.
Plastic ocean floors.
Its toxins poisoning...
We're living in a plastic world,
Do you think it's fantastic?

I wrote this poem last year while actively working to reduce plastics in our lives. Over the summer my library, The Valley Community Library, and the Sierra Club put on "Go Green: Plastic Awareness for Families."  Sarah Corcoran, the Forest Watch Coordinator, presented us with information about the dangers of plastics. We learned about garbage island and microplastics. We learned about plastics in our clothing, play, food, art, and even make-up. Part of this program was a citizen science project that asked families to count each type of plastic they came across in each room of their house and daily life. The realization that plastic is EVERYWHERE made us sick. The plastic problem is ingrained into every aspect of our lives and after almost a year of trying to reduce the plastics we have in our house by switching to bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, looking for net-zero or eco-friendly companies to get laundry detergent, dish soap and so much more, we are still putting full bins of recycling out each week and our plastic count of what's in our kitchen is staggering still.

I recently joined the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter's Zero Waste team and we are looking into recycling information on each county's website; the lack of information on the county websites is only adding to the plastic ignorance of our country. We put out information about the harm of plastic bags and straws each April and yet no changes have been made. We want to move away from so much plastic in our homes yet, 98 percent of what we see at the store is plastic.

I think to get away from this plastic culture that's been created, we have to educate and flood all media with images of the harms of plastics for more than one month a year. We need public outcry over the harm that is being done. We need to break the ignorance and give power to the public so that once they are outraged, they don't feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of the plastic industry. We need to demand change, yet when we have no other option but to buy our juice, milk, eggs, yogurt, lotion, ketchup, dressing, pens, oranges, and pretty much anything we go to the store for in plastic, it can feel as though "well, plastic is my only option," and the cycle keeps going.

I ask you all to do your own plastic study. Count what you see in your store. If you are fortunate to be shopping at a store that has removed plastics, go to the grocery store that serves the lower-income part of your community.

I ask you to write to your legislators about this toxic problem.

I ask you to talk with your local Sierra Club chapter or local group about what you are seeing.

And I invite you to join the Zero-Waste Team to help us in our research.

 This blog was included as part of the Spring 2021 Sylvanian newsletter. Please click here to check out more articles from this edition!