Growing

Kicking the Plastic Habit

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The more time we spend cooking, cleaning, and gardening, the more we’re realizing that plastic is just not for us. Now, on a teacher’s salary, we can’t afford much, so the easy and inexpensive choice has been the plastic hose connector, plastic water bottle, plastic and metal bird feeder, non-stick pan with plastic handles, you name it. We can more easily afford the plastic plates over the ceramic and the plasticware and freezer baggies to store soups and chopped vegetables in the freezer.

This was all fine and dandy for about a year, and then everything started breaking. And when it rains, it pours.

Within a month, the $20 hose sprayer split and leaked, the hose connector outside cracked and sprayed water everywhere, and the squirrels knocked down my bird feeder one too many times and it finally splintered to pieces. Then next month, the non-stick pan coating started scratching off and I dropped my plastic water bottle in the parking lot and scuffed it badly. Then the tupperware (non-freezer safe, so this is my fault) that we keep garlic & butter ice cubes in had its corner busted off.

So is it really worth it to buy the cheap stuff?

Obviously, the answer is ‘no.’ The difficult part is making the choice to change how you view your spending. We teachers don’t often have extra money just lying around to invest in the expensive, celebrity-labeled cookware. What changed for us was realizing that while it was cheaper today to buy a $5 item instead of a $10 item, we were replacing the cheap item several times over in the time it would take for the item of quality to finally give in. This Christmas, we asked for more cast iron pans to get rid of the scratching nonstick, we invested in a new brass hose nozzle from the hardware store for the garden, and my new favorite bird feeder is glass with metal edges.

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$25 bird feeder from Ace Hardware, much like the one we have hanging outside our window now

We’re slowly shifting our house supplies from plastics to glassware and donating the old stuff to Goodwill as much as we can – and it sure feels wonderful to be rid of the petroleum products and know that we’re investing in higher quality products as we go, even if it does mean a few more dollars up front.

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