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No claim to perfection

Welcome to my blog, ‘Verging on Vegan’.  Before I say anything else, I want to set people straight on the ‘verging’ part.  Veganism, for me, is like a distant horizon a person can approach, but never quite reach.  So, don’t expect me to arrive someday, unless our world goes crazy plant-based all of a sudden.

I know some people claim to be vegans.  In fact, I used to be one of those people.  I don’t label myself vegan anymore, mostly because I think it’s impossible to avoid all animal products one-hundred percent of the time.  Riding in a car, for instance, requires rubber tires treated with stearic acid–an animal product. I’m not giving up my ticket to ride, at least until the Fred Flintstone mobile is perfected.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to aim for perfection, but for me, it’s easier, and more accurate to say that I’m person who lives as close to a vegan lifestyle as possible and, thus, avoid labeling myself as vegan. It may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s very freeing to live a lifestyle, rather than defining myself as that lifestyle.

Plus, it gives me a little breathing room for when I give in to the occasional dairy/egg craving without running the gauntlet of the vegan police. Anyone can support veganism and the principles behind it this way, which makes plant-based consumerism attainable to all–a huge plus, in my opinion.

I’ve been living this way for almost forty years, and for most of that time, I coveted new vegan products in shiny new packages. I still get really excited when I see vegan innovations in the marketplace, but it’s complicated for me now.    I started to think about what happened to the shiny, often plastic, packaging which contained the things I’d buy. One day I was enjoying a stroll on the beach.  I came across a shore bird pecking at a ribbon attached to an old deflated mylar balloon.  I chased the bird away, picked up the trash for ‘safe’ disposal, but found the whole experience unsettling. I could throw the trash ‘away’, but where exactly was ‘away’?

I started to research the whole subject of plastic waste, and came across Beth Terry’s blog, MyPlasticFreeLife (formerly known as Fake Plastic Fish).  That was it for me.  From that point onward, I have tried to refuse buying new plastic whenever possible.  The challenge has been rewarding, and I hope to share my successes, as well as failures, as I make inroads to new territory which I hope is replete with tasty plants and less plastic.

My goal here is to try to encourage and support everyone to do what they can to make this world a better place for people and animals the world over, and the earth we call home. I’m close to vegan and plastic-free, but still a sinner (ask any bonafide ‘vegan’ and hardcore plastic-refuser). Join me here, if you can, in what I hope will be a friendly place where we can strive to reduce plastic and animal-product consumption and still be accepted even if life gets in the way.

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4 Comments

  1. hawright says:

    It’s difficult to imagine a world without plastic. But, the reality of living with it is slowly degrading our health and environment in both visible and unseen ways. I try to make the best choices possible, but even looking around my sparse environment, there are still plastic containers.

    You bring up a good question: “where is away?” in reality, the trash you throw away doesn’t go anywhere. It simply moves to another location out of sight. Just because it is out of sight, does not mean it is out of mind. I think about each thing I throw away. With the ability to recycle and compost, it should be possible to have a zero waste output with the exception of a few things.

    The only thing you can do is make the best choices possible to live a simple and earth friendly lifestyle that hopefully has a little less impact. Making choices about food, products you buy and use, where you live, etc. is all part of the picture. I applaud you for sticking by these changes you’ve implemented that are now part of your daily lifestyle.

    • You are so right about not being able to imagine a world without plastic. It’s so pervasive. I was watching a lecture online* a couple of days ago on this issue. The lecturer, Susan Freinkel, tried to live a day without touching plastic. It didn’t take long before she saw that was impossible, so she wrote down the plastic things she touched during the course of the day. It turned out to be a very long list, despite her efforts to avoid plastic.

      That question about ‘where is away?’ when thinking about waste disposal brings my thoughts to the oceans and capped landfills with pipes to off-gas the buried contents. I’d like to think our 20th/21st century legacy will be more than these mounds of plastic on or within our land and oceans, but it does make me wonder. Are these our versions of the pyramids?

      In many ways, HA, you have opened my family’s eyes to this problem. Once opened, it’s hard to look away even though it’s sometimes tempting to do so.

      *Of course, I can’t find the link to the lecture now that I’m looking for it after the fact.

  2. goron59 says:

    I’m a bit confused by plastics.

    It seems like such a generalisation to think they’re bad. Some plastics are heavily recycled and choosing paper or glass over plastic in these cases might cause more environmental damage (from the energy and chemicals used in cleaning, sterilising glass, recycling paper pulp, etc).

    I like the idea of directly recycling containers, e.g. I have a load of reusable bags (some plastic) that I take to the super market.

    I like the idea of cars (and other forms of transport) being made of plastics (eg CFRP) as they tend to be lighter and therefore require smaller engines and burn less fuel.

    I suppose the things I concern myself with mostly are inefficiency, unnecessary consumption and thoughtless disposal.

    • I’m more than a bit confused by plastics, but I think there’s some motivation by the manufacturers of plastic to maintain that confusion. Here in the U.S., the numbered recycling symbol is on almost every bit of single-use plastic you can imagine. I’ve come to find out that just because the symbol is there, and you place the item in the single-stream recycling system, it doesn’t mean the item gets recycled. In fact, that effort to include it in the stream might just jam up the works with the sorting equipment at the recycling plant. And recently, much to my horror, I discovered that new bioplastics made from corn, sugar, etc. can contaminate plastics made from fossil fuels. Recycling is a complicated mess here, and I often wonder if I’m making some employee at the recycling plant curse me under his breath because my intentions were good, but my actions were bad. I agree that single-use plastics, such as water bottles, cups, and the like, give me the most reason to worry. I am hopeful that larger chunks of plastic that go into making cars, appliances, electronics, etc. are recycled by people who know better what they are doing than I do. I agree that the whole plastics question requires knowledge of how the added weight of moving around heavier natural materials like glass, steel and paper impacts the overall expenditure of energy.

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