Friday 4 July 2014

On plastic-free July

kaberettPosted by kaberett

Plastic-free July: this is a thing that's happening in Witney, close to the birthplace of Lashings.

It's a nice - even laudable - idea in principle, and I'd love to know if you're engaging (and how you're getting on with it) - but unfortunately as an idea it is also fundamentally inaccessible.

I take 14 pills every day as maintenance. That number goes up on bad days (whether I'm adding in extra paracetamol or codeine or diazepam makes relatively little difference). I haven't even been able to get vegetarian antibiotics: think, for a moment, about how every single one of those tablets comes in plastic bottles or plastic blister packs, and how if I stop taking them I become non-functional within hours.

Then there's the fact that I'm currently without DLA. I shop at the co-op and my local corner shops as much as possible, but making food accessible - making sure I eat - is impossible without plastic. This is, of course, absolutely not true for everyone: but it's simply not something I can find the energy for without serious impact on my ability to do my daily healthwork, the bare minimum of self-care, and the day job that lets me buy food at all.

I'm vegetarian. I use public transport. And I use a power-assisted wheelchair and I work in clean labs that consume vast amounts of energy and produce significant quantities of plastic waste - I cannot do my job without personal protective equipment that always consists of one pair of nitrile gloves and often involves double-gloving, with vinyls over my nitriles. And sure, there is absolutely no sense in which my job is either necessary or useful - except that it seems to be what it takes to enable me to keep doing activism.

I don't know how to balance these trade-offs, and every single time something like this comes up as a campaign I just... I really just want to vanish. I am so, so glad that it is something some people are able and willing to do. I just wish I didn't feel so damn guilty that I can't. By all means, give up your luxuries for ethical reasons: that can be an awesome thing to do -- but be aware that for other people, they may not be luxuries, and that you don't get to make that call for anybody else.

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