My grandmother Myma’s last instruction as I was leaving for Roy Stephenson’s tenth birthday party was “Don’t look in the Stephenson’s medicine chest if you have to use the bathroom.”
“Okay Grandma, I won’t.”
But I did. Lots of rubber stuff I didn’t recognize plus the usual for headache and gas and bad breath in a variety of glass jars or tins.
I never forgot Grandma’s advice nor lost my interest in medicine chests, mine or anyone else’s. So, when I decided shortly before the Covid epidemic changed all of our lives that I needed to end my addiction to plastic, surveying my own medicine cabinet seemed the best place to start.
No rubber, almost no glass, the 1950’s were long gone. But Lord! the plastic! Thirty-seven items, 30 of them made from or stored in plastic.
Plastic razor with four blades, shaving cream, toothpaste, two small shampoos labeled with the name of the hotel where they had been mindlessly tossed in the dop kit before checking out, skin care products (from my metrosexual period), deodorant, sunscreen, lip balm; dental floss, stuff for headache, gas, and bad breath.
All that plastic made me feel criminal, guilty of assault on my children, children’s children and all the other living things struggling for life on a deteriorating planet. I hated the feeling, so I changed what was in the cabinet.
Metal safety razor with one blade, shaving soap wrapped in recyclable paper, toothpaste bites in a reusable jar, paper wrapped shampoo bar, finish the tubes of moisturizer and rely thereafter on soap and water, deodorant bar also wrapped in paper, sunscreen and lip balm in paper tubes with no chemicals, bamboo floss in a reusable glass container, natural, boxed products for pain, reflux and breath.
What happened to all that plastic? Washed and rinsed what I could and took to the recycling center. The rest? In the land fill, but never again.
I do not buy bathroom cabinet supplies in plastic anymore and have told my dentist, “No more free stuff.” Recycling is fine; refusing is better.
“Grandma, can you hear me? I never snooped in your medicine chest but I know you did in mine. Back then, before plastic choked the world, I know you found neither plastic nor any evidence I was other than a good Methodist boy.”
“And if you snooped my medicine chest today you would still find no evidence of plastic nor other sinful choices.“
Old Roy’s response, because we grew up and old in the age of plastic, would be very different. “My God, are you using an old safety razor?”
“Yep. Ain’t it great? And how about this bamboo dental floss!”
Submitted by John Rosenbek