Lamenting Airplane Plastics

By Liesl Clark

We were being encroached upon by hundreds of clear plastic bags. They were on our laps, around our sleepy heads, stuffed under our feet, indeed engulfing our food and toiletries. Somehow, we had become unsuspecting plassengers on an 11-hour plastic-sealed adventure across the Pacific.

Greeted by Plastic on Korean Airlines

Greeted by Plastic on Korean Airlines

How had we fallen head-first into this sea of plastic soup aboard our Korean Air 777 with 196 other plassengers bound-together by the fantastical clean and clear plastic around us? As we flew over the Pacific Gyre, that mini-continent of mixed plastic floating bogs aggregated by ocean currents, we found it ironic that we were hurling through the air, some 32,000 feet above the gyre, choking in our own cocktail of plastic-this and plastic-that.

Death by Airplane Plastic2

We had managed to get to the airport, eat lunch in the airport’s atrium and board the plane without generating a single bit of waste. Thanks to Seattle’s  SEA-TAC airport zero waste initiatives, the pizza box we got with our lunch will be composted and travelers can now fill their own water bottles at the airport water bottle filling station. From home to airport, we had mastered the plastic-free puzzle and were feeling proud, floating in calm seas, fully in control of our plastic destiny.


Floating in calm plastic-free seas when you’re travelling can be empowering. But when you get on an airplane, things change. Blanket, plastic cap, and plastic bags courtesy of Korean Air.

But as soon as we boarded the plane, our plastic-free fantasy came to an abrupt halt. No longer were we in control.


Rough seas when you board a plane and have to take on all the single-use plastics they fling at you. Blanket, plastic cap, and plastic bags, courtesy of Korean Air.

Blankets, headphones, and little personal dop kits were on every seat, engulfed in clear plastic bags and PVC packaging. Dinner arrived and we knew our microwaved bi-bim-bap in Styrofoam and PET plastic bowls were going to be the greatest infusion of BPA we had endured since the last time we took a flight on Korean, exactly one year ago.

Bi Bim Bap a la plastique.

Bi Bim Bap a la plastique.

This is the most direct route from Seattle to Kathmandu, and when you’re burning this kind of carbon to get where you need to go, why not throw in the greatest amount of plastic you could possibly imagine? Bring it on!!


Tumbling head-first into our sea of plastic. Blanket, plastic cap, and plastic bags, courtesy of Korean Air.

Moral of the story? Take those plastics and shoot your own still-life adventure with the plastics about you to keep the kids entertained. Talk with your children about the plastic coating on everything and discuss whether you think it’s necessary. Are the plastic-wrapped blankets cleaner because of the plastic?

Death by Airplane Plastics

What plassenger stories of life and travels do you have to share? Sometimes if you can’t beat ’em you have to join ’em. If you find yourself inundated with plastic bags and in a place where they can’t be recycled, try repurposing them into something fun or useful.

Click Through for Ideas for Repurposing Plastic Bags at Trash Backwards.

Click Through for Ideas for Repurposing Plastic Bags at Trash Backwards.

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Repurpose and Reuse, Think About It, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

One Comment on “Lamenting Airplane Plastics”

  1. November 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    I recently went to one café & donut chain place here in Finland, only to find out that they do not own ANY normal cup for anything – even if you’re about to sit down with your tea and donut/bagel, your tea/coffee will come in a (non-recyclable!!) disposable cup. I am planning to write to them about this, it’s horrendous…can’t imagine the number of disposable cups they throw into general bin every day! >_<

What can you add? Please share your ideas.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: