Finding a Purpose in Plastic

A Reminder & Solutions.

Dear Readers,

I think I can safely say that this last week is the first since the conference that I have felt as elated, accomplished and generally PSYCHED to talk trash. I am inspired. I had a moment today when I realized that what I’m doing now is exactly what I want to be doing and it was such a great feeling! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

During my time at Seventh Generation, I expanded beyond Quality Assurance, explored other departments and came out of this 9-month internship with much more than I ever expected. As a result, I was able to return to 60 Lake Street on December 5th to present my plastics story to the Seventh Gen employees and their Board of Directors as part of a larger presentation on plastic pollution. It was awesome, and here’s why:

I can talk trash for days…plastic trash, that is. However, I always forget how nervous I tend to be before a presentation, even if I know exactly what I want to say. Well, it turns out that after working at a company whose employees number less than 120, you get to know everyone on some level. I consider myself so lucky for having that opportunity. So when it came time for me to share my stories, I just looked around at all the familiar faces and went for it.

I talked about my experience sailing through the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, how that tied into my senior capstone work and then finally, how my capstone led me to 5IMDC. My bit ended with observations and reflections I’ve made about the plastic pollution problem. And of course, I brought accessories! I wanted people to hear what I had to say but also to see and feel what I use to reduce my consumption. Shining stars included: straws from Glass Dharma, bamboo utensils from To-Go Ware, my ChicoBag and Organic Essence lip balm and shea butter. All plastic-free!

5IMDC Poster On Display!

The awesomeness doesn’t end here! What really blew me away was all of the positive feedback I got while we were packing up. The entire board of directors came up and personally thanked me for giving such a great talk. One of them told me I was brave for having sailed across the Pacific at my age. One of my former coworkers pulled me aside afterwards to tell me how the whole presentation made her realize how many plastic straws her daughter was using and how she hadn’t ever thought about it until then. So I grabbed a Glass Dharma straw and told her to give it to her daughter to try out. When I returned home that afternoon, I had an email from another coworker who had been at the presentations and was reminded of finding beach treasure (read: plastic trash) on an island off the coast of Germany as a child – “Probably enough to outfit a household!” she said. I was elated! It was happening, people were thinking about the issue in a new light. The fact that I and the rest of my fellow presenters were able to make a group of already very environmentally aware people think about their plastic consumption was, in my eyes, a huge success.

When people email me about their stories of waste, or when my friends on Facebook, family and coworkers tell me about a start-up company doing something to reduce their plastic footprint or an article they found concerning plastic pollution, it literally makes my day. Because that’s all I want. I don’t want to force people to see this issue and be saddened by it. I want people to be curious and excited and want to learn more. That’s the goal and last week, I achieved it in a big way.

(Oh, and as if the afternoon of plastics presentations wasn’t enough, I was also fortunate enough to display the “Leech” plastic bag kite constructed by Craig Winslow for an art installation in downtown Burlington this past summer: 70 unique plastic shopping bags comprise the exterior while over 1,000 bags are stuffed to give the appearance of a bloated monstrosity. Eye-catching, huh?)


2 thoughts on “Finding a Purpose in Plastic

  1. The steps each of us are taking to reduce plastic matter… then the acceleration occurs through the teaching, sharing and learning…

    Maybe it’s not too late after all. Maybe as we all work together we are finally (collectively) “getting it”. Thank you! You have found your true purpose!


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