For the last part of my plastic audit, I decided to look at the plastic in my bedroom. Over the course of the last year, I’ve been steadily downsizing the stuff in my bedroom, but I knew there was still plenty of plastic in my room. Here’s an abridged list of what I found:
1: Record Player and Records
I only started my record collection a few years ago, but if there are any physical objects that I truly love, it’s records. My collection is a mixture of records my dad has given me that are his personal favorites, albums I grew up listening to on family vacations, and new releases from artists that I adore. I love visiting my local record shop and browsing for records; it’s some of the only impulse buying I do. Unfortunately, new records do come in shrink wrap, and used ones still come in sleeves, but I’m making an effort to only buy new records that I already know I love and will listen to a lot. Like my dad, I hope to pass down records from my collection to my kids, and if I take care of my records that is totally feasible. So while shopping for records isn’t exactly zero waste, I will continue to do it (and it’s better than buying CDs).
2: Vitamins, weights, yoga mat
Every now and then I’m overcome by the urge to become a “super healthy active person,” which goes against all my natural instincts to be lazy and do nothing. I do get some use out of the yoga mat, but I can’t remember the last time I lifted weights at home or took a multivitamin. This kind of aspirational shopping is a setback to zero waste living. If I actually took all these vitamins they might be worth the plastic instead, I’ve wasted money and plastic on supplements that will expire before I can use all of them. Note to self: stop buying vitamins.
3: Art bins
Right after graduating college, I made a scrapbook so I could have a physical collection of some of my favorite photos from college. I bought metallic washi tape, stickers, and all sorts of other knick-knacks to decorate the pages. I’m glad I have these pictures in a place where I can flip through them, rather than looking through Facebook, but as a result, I have been left with lots of leftovers. These, as well as colored pencils and corgi coloring books, have all ended up in plastic bins under my bed. I’ve gone through the supplies and given some away on my local Buy Nothing group, but I still have some supplies I don’t want to part with but also haven’t thought about in ages. In the future, I want to ask around Buy Nothing groups to ask people for their extra scrap booking supplies if I decide to make another.
Throughout college, I bought quite a few disposable cameras so I could have physical pictures with that vintage quality only cheap cameras have. I got an Instamax to take to a friend’s wedding and have been using it off and on for the past three years to capture memories of “special” events. I love having physical photos, since most live online these days, but the Instamax system uses quite a bit of plastic. I have one pack left of film, which I’ll save for something truly special, but for now, I’ll revert to capturing memories digitally.
One thing that reading Life Without Plastic has made me think about are the synthetic fibers in my clothing. My gym clothes are all made of a synthetic blend of fibers as are the clothes I bought for my recent camping trip. While these pieces are all durable and will last me a long time, little bits of microfibers go into the water supply every time you wash them (which is frequently since these are gym clothes we’re talking about). When I shop for day-to-day clothing, I now try to look for natural fibers like cotton, wool, or silk, but for the foreseeable future my wardrobe will contain few (if any) 100% natural fibers. There are some products on the market (like the Cora Ball or Guppyfriend) designed to capture microfibers (though I haven’t tried these yet). My emphasis right now is taking care of the clothes I own so that I can avoid buying new-to-me pieces as much as possible.
The plastic audit has helped me look for how much plastic plays a role in my life. While I’ve managed to reduce most of the single-use plastic in my life, I don’t see plastic-free homes being a reality until companies as a whole are more invested in environmentally conscious design. It’s good to think about the plastic into my home and consider if the stuff I want to buy is worth generating trash that will be around forever.