Posted by: David McKay | January 12, 2012

Plastic: A History (Part I)…

When I first decided to think about plastic, I really did not know what would come of it.  That’s the way things go, though, isn’t it?  You get an idea, and you do stuff related to that idea.  Right?

My New Year’s Resolution two years ago was to not use single-use plastic grocery bags.  Now look at me.  If you look one way, you might compare me to a religious nut (you know who you are); look another way and you might become defensively hostile (you know who you are, too); look yet another way and you might say, “Thanks for helping me to see things differently.”

I much prefer that last one, and you know who you are…

But I won’t begrudge the first two, especially since those people are both related to me.

I am not seeking applause or accolades or even more “thank yous” by writing these words.

I am merely writing words.

Two years ago there was this little thing called the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, or COP16, for short.  I had just discovered that twitter was a valuable tool for gathering information and used it to witness the Summit from my little apartment in Vermont.  I felt that I was a part of a global community for the first time in my life.

At the same time that I was discovering the global community, I was discovering the local community.  Having just recently moved across the continent, I was still getting acquainted — with the people, the landscape, the weather… my Self…

I was working as a saute cook in a high-end bistro in the capital of Vermont.  I was cooking with nearly 100% local food for the first time in the twenty-odd years I had been in the restaurant industry.  It was a wonderful discovery.  Do you know how to cook a parsnip?  Were you aware that the color of carrots is not just orange, but that there are hues of reds and purples?  How many different kinds of beets have you seen?  Don’t get me started on the organic vegetable farms I have worked on since…

I am nearly 43 years old.  I have been around a while.  Life has a way of tempering.  Tempering… it’s a good word to know.  What does it mean?  Look it up.

Finding a balance (did you look up the definition of tempering?) in life is no simple task.  I spent more than a year on the streets of San Francisco making a living as a bicycle messenger learning balance…

Losing your balance — well, that is a simple thing, easily accomplished.  One slip is all it takes…  I think you might all know that…

I would posit that our planet is unbalanced.

That sentence made me pause, to stare out the window for a moment, lost in thought.  What does that mean, to be unbalanced?

We start off living, us humans, dependent upon our parents to care for us, to feed and clothe and protect us.  Until we can learn how to do it by ourselves.  Why do we make such a big deal out of that first step?

That first step.  It is one of those moments when we discover within ourselves that we can balance…

That is one form of finding balance.

What about balance by losing crutches?  There is purity in that, as well.

That is what plastics are for me — a crutch.  I would like to rid what plastic is doing to this planet, what plastic is doing to unbalance our world.  We need to move beyond plastic.  Evolution is not designed for us to destroy ourselves with short-sighted greed.

Plastic = Oil.  Oil is being controlled by the few to control the many.  Oil is destroying our planet.  Look at what Chevron is arguing in court with the indigenous people of Ecuador.  Look at the travesty of the Deep Horizon/Gulf Oil Spill.  Look at the wars we wage to maintain access to a steady flow of the stuff.  Look at the senseless politics and what people will say just to make a few bucks (okay, a few million or billion).  Look at what is happening in Nigeria right now, today.

We cannot afford to slip at this point.  We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders; to fall now would cost us greatly…

Are you balanced?

Thanks for reading.

Responsibility in not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink.  Refuse.  Reduce.  Reuse.  Reimagine.




  1. Hi, David!

    I have truly grown to think of you as a brother, as so much of what you say resonates with something I have just recently been thinking about. It sometimes surprises me! I had a whole little story swirling in my head about balance…went on a different tangent in my latest post, but came here to read your post and smiled!

    I’m trying to get balanced!

    I’m on the beam!!

    Thanks for keeping us steady!

    🙂 Kate

    • Aw, shucks. Kate, I truly appreciate seeing your name come up when I get notified of a comment! Thanks!

      Maybe we should have a plastic-free conference sometime — get some of us bloggers together for a party!


  2. Love that idea!! Even if we could only pull it off virtually – using a free/trial video conference calling site? I’m also up for a road trip….but I know I don’t have the same schedule as many of our plastic-free friends! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: