Of Foraging, Micro-Plastics, Finances and Health

Of Foraging, Micro-Plastics, Finances and Health

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foraging rack then and nowSo our foraging rack is undergoing a minor upgrade. With recent studies coming out talking about the now-nearly pervasive discovery of micro-plastics inside the human body, It is only reasonable to figure out other forms of food storage. Our foraging rack had primarily been populated using cleaned containers from honey, yogurt and sour cream over the years, all of which have been and still are, sold in plastic containers. The wheels of retail manufacturing, whether it’s for food, clothing, housewares, etc, can move very slowly where money is involved, if they move at all.

Take aluminum for example. It’s been known for decades now, that this metal in high concentrations, causes various forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most well-known. BUT. . . you still find aluminum in deodorant, many brands of baking powder, the cans that canned food comes in these days, the metal disposable containers used by restaurants to bag your take-home food, etc. The “floppy” roaster as I refer to it, is also aluminum. These days that pan only gets used for some of my larger forage-crushing where I have stemmed greens too big for my stainless steel large bowl. Thankfully, it doesn’t get used often. I make sure that the brands of baking powder we buy don’t contain aluminum (alum), and a few years ago we switched to home made deodorants.

The plastic question is just as, if not more pervasive than aluminum in modern culture. Pens, plastic drinkware, dinnerware, plastic parts for the laptop/tablet/computer/phone, plastic clothing (polyester/rayon/nylon), many car and appliance parts are now plastic. The cups for my blender are plastic.

With plastic such an incredibly large part of our modern-day lives, does it make sense to reduce it? Just as with every penny saved being a penny earned, every piece of plastic you are able to swap out with a wood, glass, metal, cotton, flax (linen), or wool alternative is just that one tiny step closer to taking back any health impacts that plastic has made on or in your body. I don’t think it’s feasible to go completely free of plastic, and many who seem dead set against crude oil seem to have overlooked this current reality. I’m actually curious why so many who fight against Big Oil, continue to use so much plastic in their everyday lives. If Big Oil was such a threat to the environment, why aren’t these people leading by example and ONLY wearing natural fibers, ONLY using dishware made of stoneware, glass, wood or metal, ONLY using pens made without plastic (that includes the ink cartridge!!!), make a bigger push and a bigger splash for any tech companies building hardware without any plastics of any kind, etc.

BabyI’m not an earth worshipper. I am not an environmentalist. I scoff at the so-called discoveries of plant-base “plastics” where every single description of the process involves the creation of fresh crude as opposed to the aged crude that Big Oil pulls out of the ground. Crude is crude, and regardless of fresh or aged, still only breaks down into tiny micro-particles they are finding in placentas, mother’s milk, and the feces of marine wildlife.

Vegan leather is nothing more than renamed vinyl! Vinyl is a plastic! The scent of fresh vinyl whether we’re talking clothing, black-out curtains, or flooring tiles, all smells the same, because it IS the same!

I remember when cellophane was considered a food wrap, and was just as thin or maybe somewhat thicker than the plastic wrap sold today. I went looking for this stuff, but can now only find the very thick product that doesn’t stick together and that often no longer claims to be wood cellulose, also made of plastic!

The amount of virtue signalling going on by so many voices out there, without an equal amount of change going on in manufacturing and retail, is head-shaking! Small companies figuring out how to make bamboo disposable cutlery, metal straws, and cardboard pen sheaths, is just a drop in the bucket of what would need to be replaced if the virtue signalling actually did shut down Big Oil!

But when God told is in Genesis to subdue the earth and conquer it, and later reminded us to steward it, that wasn’t a directive at big companies, that was to mankind, each person alive has choices to make and act on. God gave knowledge of textiles, metal-working, and agriculture, so He expects us to use the resources He’s given us wisely, and that includes crude oil and plastic.

So the question becomes, where is it the most dangerous to human health to continue using plastic? Where is it safer and less dangerous to use plastic?

For me, food storage seems to be the first and most mundanely pervasive place that plastics enter the human body. So much of our food comes delivered to us in plastic. From the sausages I bought this morning, to the honey buckets I have on my foraging shelf, and almost the entire dairy cabinet in the store, plastic is how we have been delivering food and preventing spoilage for over 50 years now.

Some companies are going back to glass, but most are still using plastic.

The honey we buy comes to us in plastic, and even local small-time bee keepers sell their honey in plastic containers. On the one hand, it has made sense from a reduce/reuse perspective, to put those same containers to use holding our foraging storage, but now that I know about the issue of micro-plastics affecting one’s health, I have decided for our home at least, to slowly begin the switch over to cookie tins.

stack of plastic containersWe stopped by a couple thrift stores on our way home and picked up 6 cookie tins total, and were able to condense 9 plastic containers into those 6, plus simply putting one container’s contents into a smaller plastic container to save space on the shelf. If you look closely at the righthand side of the image I shared at the start of this article, you might be able to count all six containers. Because we are not buying food in these tins, the replacement will only be possible as funds permit.

Is there another use for these plastic containers that don’t involve food or ingestion? Yes there is. Plastic containers can hold non-food stuff.

What about our clothing?! Well, on the one hand, we don’t ingest our clothing. The big concern there as researchers have discovered, is the agitation and spin cycle that is loosening up polyester fibers and sending them on into the sewers and out to the ocean. Researchers have discovered a bacteria that breaks down polycarbons, and that some of those bacteria are building colonies around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The concern raised around how we do our laundry, is that micro-plastics are showing up in fish and of course, humans eat fish.

clothing rackThe trick to dealing with your clothing is to reduce how often you are washing it, and with what cycles on your machine, and with what abrasives to get the dirt out. In my budgeting course, I talk about only changing your clothing between showers, only showering every other day max, and less often to twice a week if your health allows for it. I teach this in budgeting, because the retail world built an industry around drying out your skin and stripping your hair of it’s oils, selling you products to put those oils back into your skin and hair, and many of those are not only sold in plastic, but are made from petroleum products themselves. When you shower less often, your skin doesn’t dry out as quickly, and your hair doesn’t turn to straw as readily, allowing you to save money on those products at the store, and allowing your clothes to last longer because you are only changing them when they are actually soiled, or between showers, not every single day. The less often clothing is washed, the longer it lasts and part of that is due to the agitation and spin cycle of the washing machine beating up the clothing and prematurely aging it. If you ever pull a towel out of the dryer and wonder why you can see through it, that’s why.

There’s more going on with fast fashion that makes it one of the world’s worst polluters, that you don’t need to take part in.

First, in keeping with the above laundry care advice, don’t change your outfit every single day. Wear it three or four days in a row or until soiled, whichever comes first.

Second, only do laundry once a week. For my household, that’s 3 to 4 loads every weekend.

Third, wear what you like till it wears out before you go out and replace it. Give up on “fast fashion” and tell any fashion police to take a hike! Only replace clothing as it wears out, not before. Don’t buy clothing just because it’s on sale or just because the fashion changed. Those reasons are enemies of your pocketbook AND the landfill!

my first four balls of t-shirt yarnIn my home, we live by these points. Our household contribution to the landfill due to our clothing is not very frequent, and now that I know my handsewing skills can be used to make useful items around the house, the clothing that wears out past the point of modesty, now gets turned into other things such as t-shirt yarn, hanging organizers, an insulated water bottle sleeve, etc.

The more you reuse something, the more you repurpose something, the slower your contribution to the landfill will be as well. There are many, many ideas out there to reuse and repurpose things! Some call it “trash to treasure”, others call it improvisation, others call it DIY hacks. Regardless of the title, many people actually have many ways to reuse things, and we’d all be wise to be doing the same.

Due to the fact that 100% cotton, linen, or wool fabric items are nowhere near as prevalent as polyester fabrics, the best you can do on the clothing and household linens equation, is to replace worn out items with natural fibers whenever possible, but not to beat yourself over the head whenever you can’t. If you like to knit, crochet, weave, etc, do your best to purchase natural fiber yarns for your projects.

Lastly, and I only say this half in jest, because if I’m honest with myself, I actually DO mean it! *Yells at the top of her lungs*

Save the Ocean! Buy Real Leather!!!

Our ancestors knew how to tan the hides of the animals they killed for food. They turned bone into needles, combs, knives, and other implements. They knew how to separate sinew and use it as thread to hold leather garments together. Today, we know, at least commercially anymore, how to tan leather and spin wool into thread and yarn, but if you try to buy sinew, it’s plastic, and we don’t use bone in combs or other implements anymore. We still however, use intestine to wrap sausages. So we clearly have some skills to regain that we’ve lost thanks to both industrialization and commercialization. Our ancestors would be shocked at the knowledge we’ve lost during our so-called “information age”!

So my household foraging rack is one step closer to less plastic in our diet. We can’t do everything, but God expects us to do what we can with what we have, both to use the resources He’s given us, and to use them wisely. As a result, I am not against the oil industry. I am against materialism, “fast fashion”, and unnecessary amounts of packaging to sell something. Every single resource God gave us, can be used wisely, and if we don’t know how to do that, it behooves us to find out.

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