Letters to the editor of the Boston Globe Magazine
Readers write in about the prevalence of plastic, the top places to live, and more.
Overdosing on Plastic
Janelle Nanos’s article (“My Plastic Breakup,” April 14) on her personal zero-waste journey was thorough and interesting. There are two factors, however, that Nanos misses. First is the power of reducing waste as a way of fighting environmental racism. Smelly, loud, offensive landfills are generally situated in neighborhoods with less money and less power to fight them. The second is the militant ban on single-use products, with no reflection on who may be negatively affected. Take plastic straws : a blanket ban does not consider the needs of some disabled people. While the zero-waste movement is an important conservation tool, it typically also presents a privileged, able-bodied, upper class, white lifestyle.
I really appreciate the piece about trying to cut down on plastics. As I neared the end of it, I thought about the vessel in which it arrived. I hope the Globe is considering eliminating the bag, or at least substituting a compostable version.
Switching away from plastics to more readily recyclable materials can come at great cost. The Sierra Club’s Clint Richmond is quoted as saying “It’s great to buy your pickles or ketchup in a glass jar.” A 16 ounce glass pickle jar itself can weigh about 8 ounces, without a lid. A similar size plastic jar can weigh less than an ounce, saving on the product delivery cost for fuel and vehicle capacity. If we can mandate vehicle fuel efficiency targets (and we should continue to do so), we can (and should) mandate that plastics manufacturers improve their ability to integrate recycled materials into their supply chains. And yes, we should demand that vendors who use plastics for packaging not waste container capacity by selling diluted products.
Cutting back your waste pretty dramatically requires minimal effort, just a change in habits. Start by using reusable produce bags and avoiding single-serving packaged foods. It doesn’t take much effort to rip open a family sized bag of pretzels and put a handful into a reusable pouch for a kid’s lunch. You may even get a discount if you bring your own iced coffee cup to Dunkin’.
You cannot walk out of a store to purchase essential items without needless amounts of plastics encasing, wrapping, and cushioning them. I appreciate large manufacturers and businesses giving this issue serious attention, but are we really focused at the point of greatest effect? Standing at the store looking at a sad bunch of semi-wilted spinach in a rubber band, next to the gorgeous, already cleaned leaves encased in a plastic clam, and noting that they cost the same, I allowed price point and convenience to rule my choice. Why don’t we start by legislating single-use plastics out of existence? Dealing with these issues as ones of personal choice instead of collective well-being is insane.
Top Spots to Live
I grew up in Chelsea and my wife grew up in Revere (“Sticking Close to Home,” April 21). We settled on the South Shore, eventually living in Scituate. We were the only ones in both families to cross over the bridge. That was 50 years ago. Today, the only other relative to leave the North Shore is a nephew who retired to Cape Cod. It’s a cultural thing in Greater Boston, but it seems to work. Our families eventually got over our desertion, but gave up on us when we retired to Arizona. It’s almost a state law in Massachusetts that you must retire to Florida. After 16 years out here, we are no longer considered fugitives.
I married a woman in 1988 and moved from Medford to Quincy. The problem I have after all this time is my best buddies have yet to travel to my side of town, as they call it. They just say, “Bill, we do not travel to the Cape!”
William M. Crowley
A Father’s Fight
Just read the essay by Adam Philip Stern (Connections, April 21) and am sorry to hear that he is suffering with the uncertainties of life because of his cancer. As the mother of six and nana of 12, I learned that one can give children options that don’t require a “yes” or “no,” i.e., “Which of your hands do you want me to hold?” or “Would you like me to change your diaper now or after you finish your juice?” Takes a little forethought, but worth the effort!
Hampton, New Hampshire
My strongest get well wishes to Stern. His article was heartrending and made me so sad. I had cancer when my youngest was 2 and then again when she was 4. I am here to write about it. I will say a mi sheberach for him when I go to synagogue. This is a prayer for healing.