Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Gold Star for Reasonable Packaging - Mesa Verde

I collect souvenir patches from the national parks we explore.  I plaster my waistpack with them and, as such, take them along on the next adventure.  This practice, unexpectedly, gives me an opportunity to talk about packaging waste--and how we can do better.
It was simpler (and less disheartening) in many ways before I contemplated packaging waste--back when I selected a beer completely on taste and didn't consider if it came in a can (recyclable) or bottle (not).  Now I think about the garbage left behind with each of these purchases.  It is one of the reasons a household goal for this year is to make our own non-dairy milks.  Those aseptic cartons are one of our primary sources of non-recyclable, non-reusable rubbish.

This awareness is a blessing though, even if I do say it was simpler back then.  Ignorance is not bliss, not really anyway.  It is just a classic example of the not-in-my-back-yard approach to living.  The garbage still exists and must be dealt with regardless of whether consumers are aware of this fact or not.  There is a nauseating amount of plastic floating around in the ocean, strangling sea turtles and choking albatrosses.  Convenience seems to be valued above all else.  This bums me out, but I wouldn't go back to my ignorance.

I, for one, want to be conscious about how my choices impact natural resource use.   Earth Overshoot Day last year was on August 2, 2017.  That means we borrowed from future generations for an entire third of the year.  I am not okay with that.  We can do better.  We need to do better.  It is clear to me that our cultural values and priorities require some reflection.

Resource management is tricky, I realize.  There are a lot of factors at play.  But there is certainly some low hanging fruit, if you ask me, especially for my fellow first-worlders.  This includes boycotting plastic drinking straws and throwaway plates/cutlery, for example, and demanding (through both our spending habits and our voices) a move away from the excessive packaging of most consumer goods.  It can be done if we decide it is important enough.

Example:  The Mesa Verde souvenir patch was adhered to a plain, unbleached square of paperboard with two small staples.  Meanwhile, the Great Sand Dunes patch was adhered to a glossy paperboard square with three globs of sticky elastic goo and then the whole unit was further secured inside a plastic wrapper.
A Gold Star for Mesa Verde's minimalist packaging.
I'd rather save the plastic in that bag for something where plastic is much more critical, say, in the healthcare industry for keeping unsanitary dust and dirty fingers away from a lifesaving syringe, a premie baby, or something.    Or even to protect and safe guard highly perishable food en route to our tables (though food packaging is something I have concerns about, too). 

It strikes me as total overkill for a souvenir patch in a teeny-tiny visitor's center though.
These things are little, but the little things add up.  Recycling is good.  Reducing is even better.


  1. I too am concerned with the amount of plastic, and I stress about how much of it I throw away. As a vegan I eat a lot of produce, through the summer I can grow a lot of what I eat, through the winter I have to purchase veggies. Mushrooms, I eat three large packages a week and I feel so guilty about the packaging. Carrots are always sold in plastic bags, frozen veggies and blueberries are sold in plastic bags. Most of my other veggies I can buy without packaging, but the check out staff always seem aggravated when I haven't placed the items into the store provided produce plastic bags.
    We recycle everything we can, but still we produce a lot of waste and I find it very disturbing.


    1. When our town had its small co-op and Matt worked there it was amazing how little trash we could produce with soap and rice and all being in bulk. But, there is more of it in the recycling these days at my house and it does bum me out. I can't wait for spring when we can start eating our homegrown again and I can not think about it! ;)


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