Plastic is a Contact Sport

Today, I compiled an inventory of all the plastic items I came into contact with – a plastic journal if you will.  I was inspired to conduct this inventory by an art exhibit I attended last month titled “Fast Forward: Dystopia“.  Since then I have become increasingly aware of the ubiquity of plastic in my life, and indeed in the air and water. Scientists are only now beginning to understand how micro-plastics are affecting our oceans and terrestrial ecosystems.

6:30 – 8:00 – 11 items


Today I’m monitoring how much plastic is a part of my life. I’ll have a full blog post this evening.

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My morning routine includes several encounters with plastic:

  • toothbrush & razor
  • shampoo / body wash / aftershave / deodorant – practically every package in my bathroom is made from plastic
  • watch – the band and watch face are plastic.
  • pants & polo shirt – both contain a small portion of elastic
  • milk jug & cereal box liner.

It seems like changes in packaging could substantially reduce the amount of plastic used for various fluids like shampoo and aftershave. What if we could purchase personal hygiene products like bulk foods? Instead of buying a disposable container with every purchase, you would bring your own re-usable container to refill.

8:00 – 12:00 – 7 items

These plastic items are a bit more durable, but also more complex to recycle.

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  • messenger bag, umbrella
  • binder, pens,  keyboard, mouse, laptop

The items I interact with mid-morning are reusable, but probably difficult to recycle. This is my second Timbuk2 messenger bag; I returned the old one to the factory to be re-manufactured. I don’t know what happens to the plastic in an umbrella, computer or a car at the end of the product life. I suppose some if could be recycled, but It would be a tedious and time consuming job.

12:00 – 17:00 – 12 items

Chapter 3 in the plastic diary: a conference call, reusable dishes & a disposable cup.

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  • reusable lunch container glass bottom, plastic/rubberized lid
  • reusable mugs (2) and cups (4)
  • disposable plastic lid
  • telephone, pen, dry-erase marker, whiteboard

My afternoon included leftover lasagna (yum!), a medium Coffee from Coffee Fox, a whiteboard diagram, and a conference call. All the lunch containers are reusable, but who knows how long they’ll last or what sorts of microplastics might come off them.

17:00 – 22:00 – 8 items

  • straw
  • mechanical pencil, remote control, laptop
  • cat food bag, spoon
  • toothbrush, reusable cup

I was surprised by the lack of plastic in my evening. I got a plastic straw without asking for it at a restaurant. (If every visitor to Savannah gets at least one plastic straw, that’s over 13 million straws going into either a landfill or the Ocean.)


Growing up in the US, it seems nearly impossible to imagine a life without plastic. The material touches our lives in countless ways – many which have never been fully examined.