Believe it or not, there was once a time when I actually thought that I was going to run out of plastic. The County that I live in had enacted a plastic bag ban and my products had just started gaining in popularity. “Oh, well,” I thought, since running out of plastics is actually the goal. It wouldn’t be too long, however, until I realized how small I was thinking. A fender-bender in a parking lot would totally change my perspective.
One day, my Prius was hit at work and sustained some pretty decent damage. (Yes, I drive a Prius – go figure.) This accident brought me to an auto body shop which happened to be owned and operated by a family friend. Upon entering the shop, I was instantly distracted by all of the plastic that I was seeing. Every auto part in there was wrapped in plastics and protected by bubble wrap. I forgot all about my damaged vehicle and wanted to know how to get my hands on these materials!
This was the moment which opened my eyes to what I now call “behind-the-scenes” waste. In just a few minutes I went from worrying that I would run out of “upcycling” supplies to worrying about the amount of plastics being thrown away by the businesses in my community. I was also embarrassed by ever thinking that just plastic shopping bags were “the problem.” Everything comes to Hawai‘i shipped and wrapped in plastics. In fact, it became very apparent that shopping bags were just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall volume of sheet plastics ending up in our landfills.
The question was no longer if I would run out of supplies – I was now wondering how on earth I could ever process that amount of material. I could see no real shortage of post-consumer plastics in my foreseeable future. This insight in turn resulted in my becoming much more aware of the actual environmental cost of our global shipping economy.
There has been a lot of talk lately about banning single use plastics such as straws, utensils and bags – all FANTASTIC ideas –however, we also need to re-evaluate our packaging protocols and give priority attention to that “behind-the-scenes” waste that piles up without a second (and in most cases, a first) thought. As we trade on a global scale, we need to plan accordingly for how to handle the by-products from all of our packaging and shipping; more importantly, redesign how we package our goods.
For me, this realization has also re-iterated the importance of shopping local. Not only are you supporting your community’s economy, you are also minimizing the carbon footprint of your consumption. When we buy our goods more directly we, in turn, create less waste and better profit margins. Have you ever thought about the amount of packaging involved in the transportation of the items you buy? These days, I think about that all the time which reminds me that I have LOTS of plastic waiting for a new life via upcycling so I’d better put down my pencil and get back to work!
Mahalo for reading and being a part of #teamtrashionista! See you next post, Mattie Mae Larson 👋🏽
Not only did we realize there was more plastic out there than we thought, there was soo much clear plastics from shipping that it inspired a whole new product: Our Painted Plastic Pouches!
Painted Fused Plastic Zipper Pouch, Medium
These zipper pouches are handmade using reclaimed sheet plastics collected from local businesses. Heat and pressure are applied to melt multiple layers of plastics together in a hand-fusing process creating a thick and resilient base material suitable for long-term reuse.… Read More