Posted by: David McKay | September 15, 2011

What does “Beyond Plastic” really mean?

It has been a while since I have really put down some thoughts related to plastic.  I thought this would be a good time to talk about what exactly “Beyond Plastic” means to me.  I changed the title of this blog a while back from “Responsible Plastic” to “Beyond Plastic” because I felt that my world view had shifted as a result of my burgeoning awareness of the plastic all around me.  I felt a need to go beyond just the subject of plastic.

I want to talk about environmental stewardship — the kind of thing that Sara Bayles over at The Daily Ocean is doing; the kind of life that Beth Terry is living, the life that my friend, Kate, is trying to live for herself and her family; the words that Derrick Jensen writes about in books like, Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution (2004, White River Junction, VT: C. Green).

I love Derrick Jensen’s writing.  He wants to destroy dams and let the salmon swim free — the way they used to swim before we began ruining our world with the Industrial Revolution.  I wanted to give you a few quotations from Walking on Water:

One of the most important things we can do is help young people find their way to be in service to something larger than themselves. (p. 45)

If we are to go beyond plastic, to get to a place where our planet can recover from the atrocities we have committed upon it — that we still are committing — we must see that there is something larger than just ourselves. It does not just have to be young people — we can all learn, no matter what age, that change can occur, that changing the way we think is possible, is always possible.

We must, if we care about our own lives, and if we care about the life of the planet, begin to remember how to think critically, how to think for ourselves. (p. 120)

I would like to mention a few of the things that I have been critically thinking about:

  1. Solar energy.  I am going off-the-grid next month.  Why hasn’t Obama put the solar panels back on the roof of the White House?
  2. Sustainability.  Why do we continue to wage wars funded by foreign debt for fossil fuels to drive our non-cyclical American lifestyle?
  3. Environmental Stewardship.  I recently walked the five miles to and from the nearest general store when my car was in the shop and collected three bags worth of cans.  I had to leave behind another six bags (at least) of other trash because I didn’t have enough bags to carry it all.  Imagine all of the trash we are throwing out on this planet.  Can we use less?
  4. Farming.  Do you grow your own food?  Is the food you eat genetically modified?  Do your elected representatives care about your welfare and your health and the health of those you love, or are they in bed with the lobbyists of Big Oil and Big Agriculture?
  5. Baking bread.  I am in the process of learning to make my own bread, so that I do not have to purchase bread from the store that comes in plastic bags.

Oh, there’s more, but I will leave it for another time.  I will leave you with a video — Chief Seattle’s Speech of 1854.  “All things are connected,” he says. And so we are.

Please remember:

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse.




  1. Thank you so much for the Shout Out, David!!!
    Keep writing…we are learning so much from you!

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