A tiny Ecological Act – Plastic in Re-use

19.2.2019 8:00

Have you come up with an idea how to make something worthless to count, and simultaneously make your ecological footprint lighter and just maybe your wallet slightly heavier? Read about one tiny attempt to do so, for a better tomorrow, in the era of plastics.

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One more coffee table conversation brought out a nostalgic image of parents or grandparent who used to hoard materials that would currently go to waste. One of these was plastic, a rare and revolutionary material a few decades ago. In Finland, somewhere between glass bottles and cardboard packages, milk was sold in plastic bags. More than one family had therefore a carpet in their house or summer cottage made out of these bags. Currently shopping bags and handicraft decoration are made of empty coffee packages due to the durability of the material that is designed to keep the air out and coffee fresh. In a time when plastic dreams have turned into plastic nightmares, and designers horizons of opportunities have turned into suffocating substance in oceans and inside our bodies, recycling has become a necessity for more sustainable futures. In the case of the (grand)parents, there was a different motivation and practical wisdom behind the hoarding instead of wasting. That was, nothing useful should not go to waste, since the generation had experienced a lack of everything, strongly influenced by the memory of wartime. This practice was not about ecological sustainability, but about the economic sustainability of one’s own household.

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For several years, I have bought my coffee packed into metal can with a red plastic cover on the top. From the empty package, the can goes to metal and the cover to plastic collection container. Then it occurred to me that the plastic cover had a close fit to the cups and mugs that I was using, and that I could use them as a coaster or a cover. As a coaster, they are light, durable, non-slippery and colourful, and there are zero extra costs. My collection grows with one in a little more than a week, more than there is a need to. This might not make much of a difference, but as a philosophy of life practiced daily, it might ease the weight from the planet’s shoulders. Even if it is no more than the weight of a one plastic cover, it is one plastic cover less, and one coaster less to be produced.

Enjoy your coffee, and the people around it!

Text & pictures: Joonas Vola