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Cabbage Quest

By Liz Neroni, Naturalist

Plastic Wrapped Broccoli
Plastic Wrapped Broccoli

I have been trying hard to reduce the amount of plastic that enters my life. That’s probably a weird way to say it, however, plastic is all around us and it is toxic to people and the environment. It’s in our hygiene products, our storage containers, cleaning supplies, and worst of all­- it’s engulfing our food. Trying to avoid it seems almost impossible. It’s at work, school, and at home–literally everywhere you turn.

Why? In my opinion, it became a norm to enter a grocery store and buy the products provided without asking any questions. I never realized how much plastic was a part of my everyday life. I never realized the amount of trash I produced. I purchased items because they were cheap, or smelled good, or were convenient. However, I’m now trying to be more aware, which has been a challenge to say the least.

This new way of being less wasteful sent me on a quest – for broccoli (part of the cabbage family). Not just any broccoli, I needed to find this healthy vegetable not wrapped in plastic. Unbelievably, this was extremely hard.

I went to Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s, Meijer, Walmart, and Kroger with no luck. After going to all these stores, I felt deflated and quite frankly frustrated. I was telling my friend about it and she said that the Kroger Marketplace on Sawmill might have the broccoli I was looking for – and it did!

I put the broccoli I found in my personal reusable produce bags. There are a lot of reusable produce bag options for sale. Look for cotton, jute, or other natural materials when selecting your bags. If the strap breaks or you no longer want it, you can dispose of it without adding more waste into the environment. Plus, you can wash them with no chemicals or microplastics ending up in our water. Preservation Parks has awesome tote bags that fit these requirements available for you at Deer Haven Park. You can grab one during open hours, while supplies last. The only catch is not forgetting to take it with you to the store!

So, was it worth store hopping for broccoli not covered in plastic? 100% Yes. There is SO much plastic that is being used and nowhere for it to go. National Geographic stated that in a year, one person ingests thousands of plastic particles. It doesn’t disappear and now it’s invading our bodies. We must be aware of where our food comes from and how it’s packaged. We must do research and make conscious decisions EVERY TIME we make a purchase. That’s how things change. I finally found broccoli that I was able to enjoy for dinner without bringing plastic into my life, and you can too.

To learn more about other ways you can minimize plastics in your life and how plastic waste is affecting our waterways, visit the Shale Hollow Park World of Water Exhibit, open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. – 6  p.m., through September 2.

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