This morning I’m excited to take the latest crop of compost out and spread it on my planting beds. I lift the bin off its platform and shovel the compost onto a tarp which I’ll drag around for dispersal.
Admiring the pile heaped on the tarp I notice flashes of light, glittering bits like tinsel in the compost. It’s those glassine windows from the envelopes shredded into multitudes. As everything else broke down over the past eight weeks, the plastic stayed intact. Who wants to spread plastic in their garden? I decide to pull the pieces out. Well! I pick through the heap for nearly an hour, piling plastic strips in a handy pot saucer. The pot saucer pile gets larger as the compost heap shrinks.
I see a similar situation over at the school playfield where I walk the dog. Plastic water bottles are dropped on the ground and never retrieved. On Mondays when the mowers come they drive over the bottles, shredding the plastic into small bits that are then strewn across the grassy fields. Instead of a few bottles, there are now dozens and dozens of bits of apparently indestructible plastic to pick up.
I read recently that Patagonia is making outerwear vests from recycled plastic bottles, and proud wearers can feel they are using their purchasing power to help the planet. But when washed, the vests have been discovered to shed particles of plastic fibers that continue on their everlasting way in the world. Can you imagine your life without plastic?