While catching up on my blogs, I read this post by Ellen Rennard, which brought to my attention the work of Chris Jordan. I know about great plastic garbage patch in the middle of our ocean, but seeing evidence like this breaks my heart.

images © chris jordan from his project, midway: message from the gyre.

Artist statement from Mr. Jordan: These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

I know I'm part of the problem. I opened my fridge recently to do a plastic inventory and see what I could eliminate. It seems that nearly EVERYTHING uses plastic in some way or another - yogurt, cheese, milk, lettuce, deli meat, chicken... SO MUCH of what I eat comes in contact with plastic some way or another. And that is just in the kitchen... what about the bath products, toilet paper, paper towels, laudry soap, everything in plastic. Ugh. But I don't know/can't afford to live any other way. Milk in glass bottles is more expensive, everything outside of plastic is more expensive and I am already pinching pennies to get all the groceries I need.

I use cloth bags, glass containers for food storage, reuse and recycle as much as I can but there must be a better way. I suppose I could have a fruit/veggies/canned-food only diet, but damn it I love to cook and eat everything. Does that make me selfish?

I'd love to hear your ideas about reducing plastic consumption, or what you're already doing to minimize it. Hopefully if we all do our part, however little it may be, it'll have some positive effects.


Geninne said…
Poor birdies, that is so sad :(
What we do is recycle almost 90% of our trash. We have 5 different trash cans, one exclusively for plastic, all of the food wrappers, bottles, etc... are washed, dried and thrown in there perfectly clean. The other four trash cans are for metal/glass, paper, organic material (just food scraps, "white only" used paper towels, egg cartons etc... that is turned into compost by our neighborhood HOA and used in all the public gradens around here) and we have a "general" trash can for everything that cannot be recycled, which is actually very little.
I don't think you are being selfish at all :) We eat everything too. I think the key is just recycling as much as you can and eat more natural foods instead of processed.
Big hug from sunny Mexico!
Dad said…
Be sure to use the cloth shopping bags now available at most grocery stores. They are inexpensive(about $1.00). Walmart sells theirs for 50 cents. Carry a half dozen in your car!

jet creations said…
Those photos are crazy Liz!! Wow, what an eye opener.

I will tell you something that my Grandparents do that will help you feel better about eating things that come in plastic containers...Re-use the plastic containers as tupperware. Instead of buying Glad or Reynolds tupperware for food reuse sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, salsa, etc... containers! Then you also save money by never having to buy tupperware for leftovers;)
pushingtide said…
Good for the artist to show the hideousness of all of us. Sad.
Ellen Rennard said…
The thing is, Liz, those pictures (which I do like) are supposed to twang your heartstrings. There are cute, fluffy, living albatross chicks near those dead birds, but we would react differently (less twanging) if we saw the whole picture. Worth keeping in mind. This is not to say we shouldn't reduce plastic consumption and live more simply, of course. But I get a little uncomfortable with photography that plays me like a violin, if you know what I mean.

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