Monday, September 21, 2009

Disposables: Pyrex

Garage saling this summer led Jules and I to quite the irresistible box of Pyrex dishes. They were avocado green and white to match the refrigerator in the kitchen beautifully. There were nice little flowers printed on them and a very vintage feel. The absolute greatest part is that there were only two pieces missing from having 3 complete sets of dishware (with lids!) and the entire price was a whopping 10 dollars. Now, at the time, both Jules and I realized this was something to purchase. What we didn't realize was how extreme the complete amazement of what we had stumbled upon. After much internet research, it is now apparent that the dishes are the Spring Blossom Green (Crazy Daisy) vintage Pyrex. They are the original 1972 printings, not the later reruns, and their condition is amazing! Said bowls now sport themselves proudly in the open air cabinets of our kitchen and have become normal dinner attire for the table.

The greatness of Pyrex was slightly known to me before these bowls but has now become incredibly clear. After almost 40 years of use, these bowls still look fabulous. Their durability is second to none. They can live well in the refrigerator or the oven, and have marvelous clean up quality. By this I mean that they can go from creating lasagna on the counter to in the refrigerator for later cooking, into the oven to bake, onto the table to eat, and then back into the refrigerator as leftovers and the only dishes that have been dirtied are two! This eliminates the need for refrigerator Tupperware as we now just store the items in the original baking dishes, and the lids remove the need for Saran wrap or aluminum foil.

The removal of a couple more items from our monthly grocery list is nicely helpful for our budget, but it also got me interested in a the life of many of these plastic wonders that once were lived without. Sixty years ago glass refrigerator dishes, or multi-use dishware were a normal phenomenon not stirring up any wonder. There was no Saran Wrap until the 1950's.

Even more, where does it all go when we are done with it? Being a single use disposable product, a small ball of Saran Wrap or aluminum foil doesn't look like much, but everyone uses it so regularly there must be quite a bit wandering around landfills. This now ubiquitous product is renowned for its ability to be impervious to both air and water, so how could it break down?

Such pondering questions drove me further into the Internet only to discover that the final resting place of much of the world's plastic is closer than I realized. Below is a picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

This jar contains ocean water floating in a soup of plastic bits and non-biodegradable debris. In the jar the plastics can settle to the bottom, however, in the oceans the turbidity is too high. The plastic particulates float about causing a consistency of soupy Alfredo sauce. The Pacific Ocean has become one of the largest garbage heaps in the world due to the way ocean currents flow and the amount of plastic usage now prevalent in the world. This mixture of the world's plastics, which have been degraded into soupy consistency, is at its smallest twice the size of Texas and at its largest twice the size of the continental U.S., and resides between California, Hawaii and Japan. It may not look like as much as it sounds, but unfortunately, the trash is no longer a floating eyesore of plastic bottles, bags, and miscellaneous large debris. The plastics have been broken into small enough bits to create particulate matter in the waters which look like food for animals and fish, culminating in a consistency which is much more dangerous. Marine trash (90 percent of it plastic) is killing a million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals and sea turtles ever year. Dutch scientists have found on average 30 pieces of plastic in the stomach of seagulls. This is problematic as plastic is a magnet for PCB's and DDT in the oceans and is working its way up the food chain.

Plastic has taken on a new persona in our house. It may be cheap, but the cost has many externalities which are unforeseen. Jules still uses plastic GladWare to take lunches to and from work, because we cannot seem to find anything else which transports as well. He does however have an entire file cabinet filled with glass jars of soup, fruit, and other lunchtime favorites as a back-up if leftovers are forgotten.

What has begun with some garage sale (and now a bit of eBay) Pyrex, has moved into quite another realm in our house. Slowly but surely, I hope to become as disposable (and plastic) free as possible.

2 thoughts:

Mr. H. said...

I read about the Pacific garbage patch a couple years ago and was stunned. The more you look into these type of happenings the more shocking what we have done to our oceans becomes.

Good job on the Pyrex, aren't garage sales great, you can find all sorts of useful items. We find the best books and garden supplies.

I love that you have done all those hikes, how neat is that. We have been working our way through "100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest" by Rich Landers over the years. We would farther along in our goal of completing all of them except there are three or four that we like so much we keep going back to those same areas. That is quite an impressive life list you have.

Granola Girl said...

Well, wherever the hiking might fall short your garden definitely makes up for! The harvests and knowledge you blog about are incredible. We can only hope to one day yield as much as you are able to.

My Life List has helped me do a lot. Somehow the act of just writing it down makes me accomplish quite a bit more. We are now focusing on getting The Barracuda out into the woods and though it has its own rewards, we haven't gone too many new places. :)

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