There’s a saying about New Zealand, where I will be travelling for one more week. It goes: “when God was inventing green, he practiced on New Zealand.” That saying is true in more ways than one. True, the landscape seems at times to reveal more shades of green than the eye can take in. But also, New Zealand produces all of its own energy, much from wind and solar power. More on that in another post, because I have only paid for ten more minutes of internet time.)
You’d think that in a country this green, people would be more conscious of the natural resources they waste and discard. But in one respect, New Zealand towns have been like most US cities. People carry plastic bags containing plastic containers. Checkout clerks at grocery stores offering double bagging. A few small towns are bag-free, but even here, there’s quite a distance to cover.
Even at the ashram I attended for a month, where all our vegetarian composting scraps fed the worms and chickens and pigs, and where all the bathroom and kitchen surfaces were cleaned with nothing but vinegar and baking soda, plastic bags prevailed. We changed them out in the rubbish bins daily.
This was even located on a beach, where, despite its remote location, plastic bottle tops and packaging washed up along with shells and dead puffer fish. It seems that even when confronted with the evidence of a plastic-polluted lifestyle, it is hard to change our habits.
The convenience of plastic is hard to argue. Plastic keeps bins more sanitary and holds wet clothes and shoes in your pack after you’ve been caught in a rainstorm. But it’s clear that we still have our work cut out for us – providing enough evidence that the “convenience” of plastic is more illusion than truth. That washing out our bins and letting our wet clothes mess up the contents of our packs – these small inconveniences are worth the life of our oceans and our planet.