Why You Should NOT Do a Plastic Purge
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Why You Should NOT Do a Plastic Purge

May 03, 2019

Do you need to do a plastic purge? Some practice advice.Plastic (rightly) gets a lot of hate mail. Once created, we’re stuck with it for a REALLY long time. If we create a disposable product out of plastic, we’re getting a short-term use for hundreds (or thousands) of years of trash. Such a bad idea.

As awareness and concern increase, plastic purges are all the rage. In these purges, people eliminate household and personal items made of plastic or synthetics and replace them with materials like glass, bamboo, wood, etc. This is great, with one big caveat--if you're purging things that you'll need to replace, you're creating more pollution than you're saving.

 "if you're purging things that you'll need to replaceyou're creating more pollution than you're saving."

Manufacturing creates pollution. And transportation of goods causes pollution. And disposing of waste causes pollution. So don’t go and get rid of things you could have used for years. The new things have to be manufactured and transported (pollution) and your old plastic has to be disposed of (more pollution).

It's best to use everything you own for as long as you can. The three “R’s” of conscious consumption are not all created equal—“reducing” is good, “recycling” is problematic (but hopefully it will get better, so please continue!), and “reusing” is golden. If you reuse something, you (indirectly) prevent a new one from being needed and manufactured. Less trash, less pollution from manufacturing, less pollution from transportation. 

"A plastic item that lasts for years is greener than a hemp item that lasts for a month."

In general, the products that are “greenest” are the ones that last the longest. A plastic item that lasts for years is greener than a hemp item that lasts for a month (sounds crazy, but there's a lot of science backing this up). Don’t get us wrong—we’re not cheerleading for plastic. But the supply chain is hard on the planet, so let's slow down the rate at which we buy and replace stuff. The bad guys here are single-use items. The baddest of the bad guys are plastic single-use items.

The safest bet for people who care about the environment is choosing items that last a long time. Plastic purges should be reframed as disposable item purges. If you have to choose between a plastic fork and a bamboo fork, choose the bamboo. But it would be even better to bring your own fork and skip the disposable altogether.

Read about our grudge against skincare disposables