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