Accounting for my plastic campaign – Week 1

Week one is done! Starting strong is natural, finishing strong is certainly a challenge.

My self-imposed rules were set last week:

  1. Commit to change
  2. Do my best
  3. Go easy on yourself – I don’t have to be my own worst enemy
  4. Do not beat up others who are slow to join campaign
  5. Be accountable

I know it is the training phase and I need to establish my baseline. I figure it is the same as getting on the scale for the first time in 3 years, so expect a shock.  I also must follow rule 5, be accountable: be truthful and embarrass yourself.  Yet to do so puts me at odds with rule 3, which advises not to beat myself up. Full disclosure is a fallacy and leads to boredom for anyone reading the blog, and given the embarrassing result could imperil rule 1, committing to change. CHANGE IS HARD!

Mo’s Baseline Report

My journal was indeed placed on the counter above the garbage and I recorded the plastics that made their way into the garbage. Of course, this is the plastic our municipality does not accept as recyclable. It includes cellophane, plastic bags of all description, styrofoam trays, those sort of things.

Truth.  I only recorded one full day. It took me a while to relocate the journal.  I entertained my family on Day two and cleared the habitual junk off the counter before anyone arrived.  So the accountability exercise was then forgotten. I wish to invoke rule 3. I wish to be easy on myself. I may wish to redo this exercise commencing tomorrow for a period not to exceed Monday to Friday.  I think the data is incredibly important, but I acknowledge what I end up with will be incomplete, yet telling. (You know I will stuff the journal away again, don’t you.)

My list included the following for Day 1:

  • lid to cereal container recyclable and later removed
  • Plastic protector on new cereal box – garbage
  • Toothpaste tube – garbage, toothpaste cap – recyclable
  • 3 baggies used for left overs – garbage
  • Shake and Bake bag – garbage
  • Plastic ice cream wrapper – garbage
  • ripped doggie poop bag – unused – garbage
  • Enormous plastic lawn fertilizer bag – garbage
  • Enormous soil bag required for planting tulip bulbs – garbage
  • Plastic wrap from left overs (never even ate the left overs) – garbage
  • 2 outdated cranberry juice containers, cleaned but stained – recyclable and removed from garbage
  • Also, used the municipal garbage container, which now contains two used doggie poop bags, however I retrieved one unused poop bag from the bog in the park, so net harm is less than one bag. It is “less than” because otherwise the plastic bag in the water would have broken down into micro plastics and polluted the water habitat in short order. This has longterm impacts on birds, ducks and fish and possibly insects and I do not know what else.

In spite of all that horrible plastic, I was quite pleased with my performance. I told the truth for one day. I did not unfairly blame my beloved husband for picking the accountability week/ day to do his gardening, as that would be so unreasonable. I could heap praise falsely on the lack of regular plastic garbage, so as to hide the fact that I postponed cleaning the rest of refrigerator after the cranberry containers made the list. That would be so misleading, so I confess.

In truth, I felt severely guilty at my propensity to buy things in plastic containers.  A case in point was hand soap.  We have three bathrooms and of course the kitchen sink.  I could understand if I had four containers of hand soap and even four more in reserve for replacing them.  I had twelve plastic containers of hand soap and no inventory of replacements. I also had matching hand lotion, that is seldom used, to match the twelve hand soap dispensers, all with matching shapes and design and often with cute plastic trays for the hand soap and the hand lotion to sit in.

But there is always more behind the story

Have you ever counted the plastic containers in the expensive cabinetry we have placed in our bathrooms and kitchens?  These are the places that we have to lock when toddlers come to call. They are filled with cleaners to get rid of the scum that accumulates in the sink from the hand soap and hand lotion, etc.  Often toxic, they come in thick plastic containers.  So I counted all those. I have 40 plastic bottles in that category.  Most of these products are discontinued.  Many of the containers have less than an inch of product peeking through the bottom of the plastic cylinders. They are sitting there because of the time and water required to wash them out so that I can dispose of the containers.  I don’t want to use the products because they are old and I most likely have replaced them already with other bottles. Sigh!!!!!!!!

The worst and most egregious count must be disclosed. Bath soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, face cleaners and face creams in plastic containers only. We have 44  containers for two people. We also have to protect our skin from the sun! There are at least four such plastic containers and two more for insect repellant. I have two drawers dedicated to travel size jars and samples from the cosmetic aisles that I would rather just estimate as 100 plastic items.

Report Analysis

So as you can guess, I need this plastic purge in the biggest way.  I am not a hoarder qualified for the America Most Wanted shows, but I am unimpressed with my habits.

If I recycle all the excess, is that a net gain or net loss?  The plastic exists now, harm is done, so I am not adding to it if I give them to recycling.  But will I just go mad and replace it all again?  No, the point of this exercise is reduce plastic purchasing by buying what you truly need and if possible in packages that do not use plastic.

Help please!  What else does shampoo, conditioner and lotions come in? Research is required!!! Buying in bulk means thicker plastic containers. Does bulk buying help here?

Rule 3 Go Easy on yourself

So what is a girl to do after such a reckoning!  Seek out nature – walk the dog. Calm the mind. Ummmmmm ahhhhh.

Jersey and I left the house ready for a new purpose.  Breathing in the fresh air, we started walking up our town road, passing through one road in the subdivision to access the nature trail.  When what to my wondering my eyes should appear, but a super sized garbage bag, empty and near.  It was a sign!  A means to save my wicked soul! Penance! I jumped at the chance to clean the road side as we walked through the neighbourhood and the trail leading to our nature park.  This walk can be trying on my evangelical nature.  I silently growl and curse the littering public. I now know that I am every bit as bad as those littering, I just hide the stuff at home. So, why not give those littering a helpful hand, a good example, a clean environment!

Jersey enjoyed the activity tremendously.  She sniffed and pawed at the ditches and road sides as I proceeded to fill up the garbage bag.  She rolled in mud and who knows what.  While she was readying herself for a big bath later, I was similarly smearing dirt and mud from my head to my toes.  Of particular note were my favorite red leather gloves and the cuffs of my favorite down jacket! I donated the gloves to the bag at the end of litter drive and did the laundry including the coat.  It was a cold and overcast day, so we did not meet a soul, thankfully! Nor did I motivate others to the cause with my service to the community and the environment.

Actually, I was sad when I finished my task and tied up the bag.  There was so much left to do! I abandoned the bag next to the underpass. Do not despair.  After we had completed our walk, I drove back to the spot, retrieved the bag and brought it home.  It more than filled up the space in our garbage container. Zero harm! The garbage bag was thrown away unused anyway, it would have broken down after several years and turned to micro plastics in our water shed. At least it was used to clean up and not left for the ducks and geese to choke on.

One might think I did a miserable job with plastic and waste to look at our garbage bin this week, but I felt really good about it.  I gave back to the community by cleaning up.  I know what I threw out, which improves my mindfulness, and it has sparked my ambition to do less harm and even make my own compost.

The remainder of the week was focused on minimizing garbage until garbage collection day.  I composted!  I have my first bucket (small bucket albeit) of compost material. Jersey and I will do another few walks to finish the clean up before the snow flies. Once again, we will commit to plastic research and plastic reduction.

Did you know compost containers also come in plastic?  Oh…. my head hurts!

Week One concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanessa, I don’t want a map!

Vanessa and I are pretty close. We worked together, we go to book club together and we have several of the same friends. When we first met, I would visit her at her house in the next community. She shared her calamities with me and I commiserated in between giggles. Vanessa is a great cook and baker, but you don’t want to be with her when she boils Fussells thick cream. She boils the cream while it is still sealed in the can. Otherwise, Vanessa is a first pick for travel advice, to take on an adventure or to walk your Labrador with! But the biggest problem I have with Vanessa is that she moved to the other side of the City. We may not live in a Metropolis, but I need a map to get there.

I really dislike going to the east end of the City. It isn’t because it is unfriendly or dangerous, it is only because I don’t go there often and the labyrinth of streets and cul-de-sacs are difficult to navigate. Simply put, I have a habit of getting lost. I do not have my own internal compass. I routinely have been told by otherwise polite friends and colleagues, “No Mo, it’s your other left.” I am a hapless, map-less and dangerous traveller.

You would think that my objections to visiting people on the East Side would have all but stopped. My car is equipped with a GPS, my Samsung 4 has google maps and if all else fails I can make my way to our box store boulevard and ask for simple directions from there. With all the help available, I can still muck it up!

A year ago, my friend and fellow book club member, Vanessa, took her turn hosting our book club session. I never willingly miss book club, mainly because I enjoy reading, I like other people to figure out for me the best books to purchase, and the women in our club our unbelievably funny. As one of my friends would say, our book club nights are as good as a concert. My only regret is that Vanessa, the hostess with the flare to tantalize us with treats from her latest travel, lives on the East Side!

I am ashamed of my inability to drive to fixed destinations in a timely manner, so I was keeping it a secret. To complicate my life, I work late, so it impossible for me to car pool. This book club appointment required me to drive myself. I was confident that I could find the street buried somewhat inside of a new subdivision. I had my GPS. How hard could it be?

I knew the subdivision was four years old, because I remember buying our car about the same time as Vanessa and John built their house. The subdivision was just getting started then and even I could find it at that time. Since then, new streets and dead-end roads have been added. There are numerous ways to access the subdivision. They even have a Hotel there now. I can identify the hotel every time my husband drives us to Costco. It was a handy landmark for a trip to Vanessa’s.

I left work with about 30 minutes to spare. I programmed Vanessa’s address into my Toyota’s GPS. It occurred to me that a GPS must either come programmed with the maps in place at the time the car was manufactured or they regularly updated them from a satellite connection. The latter didn’t sound improbable but I wondered why I never noticed any messages on the console to that effect. I pulled out of the parking lot at the Southside of the city and headed North East.

This self-confessed travelling basket case did know enough to recognize that the GPS was guiding me past all the most likely turn offs. I trusted that soft spoken lady to know what she was doing. I began to notice I was driving at least ten minutes longer than I should have been and the console map did not have any sign of the expected right hand turn or any familiar destination. I presumed the GPS knew best. The subdivision was still growing and there was a big protest at City Council about vehicle congestion problems should Council approve a condo project there. Perhaps the residents built one of brick walls to contain their neighbour and make Council and developers go away? I had no idea where that subdivision had gone.

Sweat began to break out across my forehead as I followed the instruction to proceed down the highway along the City’s water supply. It was a very long road and for the life of me I couldn’t recall any right hand turns in that part of town. Eventually the street lights disappeared and I knew I was lost. Panic began to set in. My hands were clammy and my mind was slipping toward catastrophe. My temperature was rising and I was edgy. Suddenly I noticed a right hand turn.

I didn’t care if the right hand turn was correct or not, I had to take a turn that seemed to head south. The unfamiliar road began to look familiar, the way a trip to a new community in the country always looks a bit familiar. The darn road was twisting and I had no idea if I was headed South or North. I no longer felt embarrassed about being late, roughly 30 minutes at that point. I was just plain scared. The road finally intersected with a ramp that lead to a highway.

I was in the Twilight Zone. Where in the world did this highway come from? The encouraging part was that it was definitely pointing to the City. The road sign said as much. I drove for what seemed to be an eternity. I approached a new box store that I read about in the paper. I was near the box store boulevard. I wanted to pull off the road and do a happy dance, but I was too late and I was too nervous to do so. I soon made it to the intersection with Costco! I was back to concrete civilization.

I headed a little east and saw a second clue. The sign for the golf course was a sure giveaway. It was vital that I call for those directions, which even a child could follow. I stopped the car, retrieved my purse with my phone from the back seat. I called Vanessa.

Mo: “Vanessa, I’m lost.”

Vanessa: “Where are you?”

Mo: “ Next to the turn off for the Golf Course!”

Vanessa: “Well you are here then.”

Mo: “No! I may as well be in Albuquerque. I need you to lead me to your house.”

Well, Vanessa had a lot of patience with me as I located the hotel and drove down two winding roads until I saw her driveway. A real person with a kind voice and a bright light above her door will beat a GPS or a map any day!

I doubt I could drive to Vanessa’s without getting lost today. I believe in mental blocks and disorientation. I also believe my husband should always be the driver. But, sometimes you just have to take the steering wheel by its proverbial horns and drive until you get there.

You know that waking up is hard to do!

This past week was so busy I can hardly believe the amount of work I was able to squeeze out in a day for the “blogging project.” The reality is, there is truly no more than twenty four hours in a day. Yet, I like to think, time is what you make it. When required, I can somehow double or triple my normal efficiency. That concept of time and effectiveness made me wonder…..

In reality, time passes and humans have learned to measure it.  The clock goes tick-tock, and scientist and the humanities analyze much of human behaviour with a reference to the passage of time. Yet, when measured against cognitive awareness, time can also disappear, evaporate before your eyes. Now Management Consultants have lucrative businesses built around time management. While the clock ticks, the tock doesn’t always register. All usage of time has not coincided with a productive result. When we waste time, there is little record left of precisely what we have accomplished. True, isn’t it!

Take waking up in the morning, for me it the epitome of time loss!

There are those wonderful humans who self describe themselves as the sort who hit the ground running the second they wake up. They are also the ones who go to bed, place their head on the pillow, and fall asleep.  These human beings are most likely blessed with well developed and superbly functioning glands nestled somewhere in the middle of the brain, specifically the hypothalamus and the pineal gland. As a result, they produce the perfect dose of melatonin, allowing them to react to the setting of the sun and the rising of the sun. So, all of you reading this blog in the middle of the night are likely not that element of human kind.

By the time I am aware it is dawn, I sigh, blink, and it is 20 minutes later. I don’t even recall willfully wasting time. I then lie in bed and tell myself, as much as I would like to stay beneath my comfortable duvet, I must get up. With my eyelids glued shut, I gingerly nudge my toes outside the protection of the bed clothes, then force out the rest of the foot. With all my will power, I allow my leg below the knee to extend over the edge of the mattress. The leg and foot, with no assistance from the eyes, tries to determine where the floor might be. SMACK! My once warm and comfy toes hit the cold hardwood, so shocked by the extreme change in environment, it yanks the rest of me behind it. Like a battery operated toy with its battery expiring, I move slowly forward.

Next thing I know, my reserve power storage is unleashed and I open one eye. Then begins the one eyed trip to the kitchen. Two eyes are not advisable when they are both on different networks. One is asleep, that would be the closed one. The other is blurry but operational. My opened eye happens to be my left one. I rely on that precious eye to navigate my way around the kitchen island to the sink. There I stare blankly at the sink for longer than a couple of moments, waiting for the confusion to pass.

Minutes drift by, like fog entering and exiting the mouth of the harbour. It dawns on me that it is now okay to open my right eye! My lowering level of melatonin atleast allows the two eyes to work in a coordinated fashion.

Bingo.

I am in front of the stained stainless steel sink for a reason. I want tea! Usually, the next thought is really a complex one, a lecture to the brain to release norepinephrine and orexin and to lower melatonin further. Okay I admit I am not doing the lecturing. It is involuntary.  There are 11 neurotransmitters and hormones that somehow get generated in the right sequence to allow me (and all of you) to experience wakefulness.

Once sufficiently awake, I begin to recognize my confused state is somewhat related to the kitchen renovation and the folly of the logic used to lay out the counter space and cupboard space. Ha. The only logic at 6:30 a.m. is 31 years of experience making my morning tea in the old illogically laid out kitchen! Is the kettle to the left or right? Mugs are where? Whose idea was this to place mugs at the opposite side of the sink away from the kettle! Sigh, a full 20 minutes have passed. All I have done is found my way to the kitchen and turned on the kettle.

Another ten minutes are used to mix my cereal with fresh berries and Greek Yogurt. Damn! The tea is over steeped and tepid. My brain is speeding up though. It is now merging Frere Jacques (my childhood favorite song) and my desire for a clear brain. I start humming to myself….,

Serotonin, Serotonin,

Where are you? Where are you?

I’ve got to get a move on, I’ve got to get a move on,

Ding, Dang, Dong! Ding Dang Dong

Miracle of Miracles! I am awake! It is 7:30. I have exactly 30 minutes to wash, style my hair, apply makeup, dress suitably for whatever is on my blackberry agenda and start the commute to work! Time suddenly seems to slowdown enough for me to catch up. I accomplish everything in 30 minutes, plus plan out the day, tidy as I go, smile politely at Hubby as he takes the left overs for lunch, while I remove lunch money from his wallet.

My professional conclusion is that I don’t believe in the consistency of time. It is merely a state of mind. I believe someday, a brilliant scientist will discover true time measurement and reset it to the rhythm of the mind.

Daily Prompt: Spending my day with Bridget Jones

I admit it, I love to read for entertainment. It doesn’t bother me one iota to read a light hearted, satirical piece of fiction.  One of my favorite character’s has to be Bridget Jones. She won my heart with the first novel. I even read the sequel and watched both movies based on Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. The material just resonates with my cohort, it is truly funny.

By now Bridget is firmly in her new relationship and I believe she could use a friend from Canada.  Living on the East Coast, I could take a quick trip to Gatwick and motor to her flat outside London. Our flights always arrive before 7:00 a.m. in Gatwick.  I might then try to pick up something suitable for breakfast for Bridget and her children. They would have just enough time to gulp down the donuts before driving the children (late) to school.  Seeing we know the teacher, I doubt that will be a big problem for us or the children. Alternatively, Bridget’s other BFF across the street can take the children to school again!

No matter what Bridget is up to in her current life, I have the uncanny feeling I will be able to relate. I am thinking we will spend time trying out younger looks with trips to the hairdresser for a new cut, colour and hair extensions. We will need collagen treatments and new super elasticized under garments to bring us closer in appearance to her latest nemesis!  All good strategy to restart our new careers. We can always spy on the She-Devil Nemesis to discover how to better compete.  Who knows what trouble we can get into.  A trip downtown with a Bobby wouldn’t be all that bad!

I may be just what Bridget needs.  I am fairly calm and down to earth.  I have scads of parenting experience, with a specialty on sons though.  I did not have a daughter but contrast is always good. I am a mediocre literary talent, which would place Bridget well above me.  Once again, Bridget would be charmed. Best of all, I can finally find someone who will understand my fascination with writing down everything I wore for four months. She will also understand my struggle with diets, losing weight and staying on course with exercise. We could decide which of my outfits must go, which to keep and I would no longer have to struggle with outfits on the watch list!

Wait a minute! We would not send my clothes to goodwill, we would plant them in the She-Devil Nemesis’ closet and take all her clothes to goodwill. We may want to fight over the She Devil’s shoes.

What I want to know from Bridget is how to break into the movie business.  With Bridget’s television and movie production career, I would concentrate on following in her footsteps. Every step of the day we would tweet messages, monitoring if we picked up any new followers. Every misstep would be rewarded with high carb treats, wine and trip to the scale to determine how much weight we lost. For penance, we will go to the gym and watch, “The Devil Wears Prada” while we tough it out on the elliptical machines.

Luncheons and after work receptions would connect us to Bridget’s crazy, supportive friends. I could listen to their advice and if they didn’t have any, I could listen to the tales they tell.

After supper at home at Bridget’s I would charm Bridget’s second husband to take Bridget out for the night. I would ask if they could call Hugh Grant to come over to help me babysit!

All in all, Bridget would be pleased. She has become so successful, she is mentoring me!

And that’s a wrap.