In the beginning….. January 1, 2010

Welcome to:  THE LAST STRAW: A reluctant year without disposable plastic.  My name is Bryant.  I am an environmental artist.  This is a big experiment–one day at a time I am going to try and use as little plastic as possible.

I do not expect the impossible of myself–but I am curious as to what I can do–

–a bit of an introduction is  below:

If you are a poet,

you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.

Without a cloud, there will be no rain;

without rain, the trees cannot grow;

and without trees, we cannot make paper.

The cloud is essential for the paper to exist.

If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.

From: The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra– Thich Nhat Hanh

One Sunday afternoon in November, all errands run, books read, I was taking a walk along one of my favorite trails along the Eno River

The leaves were mostly down, so I was able to see the slope of the land, the curve of a very large rise to the left of the river as I followed a certain bend in the much traveled path.  This is the path where I find lady slipper orchids blooming each spring.  Where and when  to look is passed by word of mouth.  You have to know where and when to look.  The first time I ever saw them with my friend Fran, I remember thinking that from a distance their golden brown color looked a bit like sun bouncing off a shinny leaf, a patch of sunlight along the forest floor.  Sometimes, on this path closer to dusk deer run deeper into the woods, white tails up.  This path is clean, along a river that is mostly clean as well.  In the summer, I find plastic bottles and cigarette butts down by the swimming hole,  and that’s about it.  These woods bring solace and joy to my life and are an antidote to much of the sorting and collecting of detritus which is a large part of my working life.

As I crested the last hill on my way back to my truck the thought came whole into my head–this new year–2010–will be a year without disposable plastic in my life.  Do I have the patience for this?  What will I learn?  Will I become a pedantic lecturer on the subject?  How will my habits change?

December 28th, 2009, Blue heron Motel, Nags Head, NC

Only a few more days until the beginning of the new year. My friend John easily helped me name my blog a week or so before Christmas while we were having lunch at Rue Cler in Durham–I was drinking out of a glass with no plastic straw.  I asked the waiter why (as is usually the case in most resturants) I was not offered one, or really, just given one.  “Well, I never assume anything” he offered…..My friend laughed and said  my blog for the year should be called  THE LAST STRAW….

So there you have it.  Since that time, I have been noticing everyday items which will give me pause–The plastic wrapped around cheese and the tops and straws on the lid of my cup from Wendy’s as we hurried to the beach…….

This blog does not have a form yet.  My hope will be that it will become an inquiry for me….Hopefully, I will find ways to do without disposable plastics.  The two bags crammed full of bits and pieces of plastic washed ashore here at Nags Head that I have just collected are food for my mill.  There is lots of plastic everywhere to be ignored.  Does what I pick up matter?  Am I picking up the last straws?  It is easy to walk along and not notice….but for me–this year–my job is to notice–so here I go, on my last beach walk of this vacation with a bag and a camera–

Happy New Year everyone.

Amy Kellum January 1st, 2010

Good, Bryant! You will have many fellow travelers. For most of us, it may be simply noticing the plastic we use and not partaking of it – when it’s easy not to. Thank you for taking us with you on your journey!

Cousin Margaret January 16th, 2010

1. Chocolate chips–bulk–We live near the Pennsylvania Amish community–the general stores carry bulk chocolate chips–but if you can’t find such a place locally, guess you’ll just have to visit us 🙂 Next time you are in the area, we can take you to one of the stores.

Or next time we are in that area–maybe we can remember to buy you some, but it would involve mailing them to you which would involve mailing, involving major expenditure of gas!

2. Toothpaste–just heard on NPR of a musician who brushes her teeth with Jack Daniels! She notes that the alcohol is an antibiotic. Jack comes in a glass bottle.
Doesn’t address plaque, etc., but..
hmm…we do have that stray bottle or two of such stuff in a cabinet that we don’t drink but for some reason we have acquired…

Small amounts shouldn’t be too bad–but one should probably just use it in the evening before going to bed–or at least not before going out to work, etc.–so you don’t have Jack D on your breath!

Bryant January 18th, 2010

margaret–Thanks for the Jack Daniels suggestion–I am speechless here, but who knows–maybe the alcohol content is very good for gum disease. We cannot take anything for granted.
Also, Good about the chocolate chips in bulk up your way, maybe it calls for a journey north sometime to visit you and Hans!

Cousin Margaret February 9th, 2010

I’ve always seen cornstarch in paperbag or cardboard boxes–so you should be safe there.
Interesting, though about powdered sugar being done this way–I didn’t realize…

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