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March 2018 Year to Zero Household Participant, Kay Keeler

I turned 82 on April 3 and have lately been reflecting on how America met the resource challenges of WWII.  I was in kindergarten when the war started and just finished 4th grade when it was over.  During those years everyone was involved, my Dad went into the Navy, we had ration stamps we had to use to buy certain things, gasoline was rationed and I remember standing in a long line to get 1 piece of bubble gum!

Every week day, we brought a different needed thing to school: Mondaywas newspapers; Tuesday was saved bacon fat in a tin can: Wednesday was metal (mostly flattened tin cans, but any metal you came across that wasn’t needed); Thursday was balls of tinfoil that came on cigarette and other packages .=In the Fall we brought large pods off Milk Weed bushes which they used to fill life preservers for ships. 

OnFriday, I brought in a dime or quarter (whatever my family could afford) for a stamp to glue into my War Savings Bond Booklet and when I had $18.75, I turned it in and a US Savings Bond was mailed to my house!  We also had a family Victory Garden to help out with food, as the USA was not only feed our troops and sailors, but civilians in war torn countries.

It seems to me America is facing another huge challenge now. As a country, we have become addicted to using plastics, which are not biodegradable, and now that China is not buying most of our plastics anymore, the problem for solid waste management has become almost unconfrontable.  

I’m sure that you’ve heard that there is a huge island of plastic laden trash in the Pacific Ocean threatening that ocean. The question is for each of us, what can we do individually to stop using plastics!   One idea I had is to leave all the plastic packaging at the market where we buy it, so that maybe they would push for a different kind of packaging.  Another problem is that storing and cooking in many plastics is not healthy with harmful chemicals leaching into the food.

The Lopez Island Solid Waste District had a meeting last month to see what we could do, and my husband and I said we would work on it in March and here’s what we did:

  1. bought stainless steel drink containers and stopped getting coffee with the plastic lids

  2. bought a set of glass storage containers and started using plastic containers for storage other than food.

  3. buy milk in glass bottles (When I was a kid, milk was delivered by a horse-drawn wagon and on very cold days the cream would freeze and raised the cap a couple of inches, which I would sometimes help myself to free ice cream from neighbors’ bottles)

  4. besides carrying our own bags to the market, we now have small cloth bags in which we can put produced which stays fresher in our refrigerator

 5. using flat sponge cloths instead of using paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins-sold in plastic packaging

We here on Lopez Island are so lucky that we have great healthy food harvested on this island or from our sea, plus a store that brings in what not available from the closest farms.  It’s sometimes inconvenient or more expensive, but eating real, nourishing and healthy food with the people you love, is what life is all about.  You probably have noticed how fast your containers for the dump are filling up now and I hope you will take on a few changes in your life to meet this challenge.

Kay Keeler

Lopez Island


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