I’ve been active online and in my community recently, promoting Plastic Free July, a month without disposable plastics. What could possibly shake me from my path?
Well, I’m kind of embarrassed about this. Last week I went on holiday with my mum and my son, to a summer holiday destination in mid-winter. A bit of rain won’t stop us, right? It was sunny when we boarded the ferry.
Half an hour later, we arrived to pouring rain. Our socks were soon squelching. After covering every contingency for my child, I had forgotten to bring my own raincoat.
Luckily Mum had a spare umbrella I could use. Lots of holidaymakers had been caught out by the rain and were wearing those disposable clear plastic raincoats. I watched them, thinking about the volume of plastic for a product that didn’t even exist a few years ago.
We all hired bikes on the second day. (I only got a pic of me riding my son’s bike, sans umbrella. Should have left it at that.) Now, it’s fine walking around with an umbrella, but not so easy riding with one. Mum offered to lend me her raincoat, so she could buy a disposable raincoat and my conscience could remain intact. But I still felt responsible, so I insisted I was fine with the umbrella. I’d seen other people doing it.
We rode out of the settlement. It began to rain heavily, and I put the umbrella up. One hand to balance and steer the unfamiliar bike on unfamiliar roads, one hand to hold the umbrella and try to angle it to catch the most rain without catching the wind. A backpack pulling my weight back, gusts of wind pushing me sideways, trying to keep up with my son who was racing over the smooth hills. I could feel my brain struggling to co-ordinate so many things at once, but I kept going.
And that is how I ended up losing control down a hill and sailing right off the road, jettisoning the umbrella before I flew over the handlebars onto a slope of thick reeds. The bike landed a few more metres downhill. My mum heard me screaming, first with shock and then pain when I tried to move. She told me she turned around to see an empty road, the black umbrella lying alone.
I’ve idly wondered whether there would have been more plastic in the disposable raincoat than in the hospital bed and ambulance stretcher linings, the pain relief packets, the foam sling, and the convenience food I’ll probably buy because I can only use one arm for the next month. Everything in the nursing post was wrapped in plastic. EPIC FAIL!
The good news is I get to test out some herbal remedies on my broken collarbone (no plaster in the way), and I have a lot of community and family support to tide me over. Grateful for the public health system that’s there in an emergency; now I’ll turn to the stack of herbs and oils in my soap-making cupboard and garden.
And my son got a ride in both the ambulance to the ferry (which we almost missed), and the fire truck back to the nursing post. I don’t know why the fire truck arrives when you crash your bike. Maybe I looked hot.
So plastic free is rapidly sliding down the list of priorities. Enough challenges! I just want my skeleton to function smoothly again. Bone growth needs food high in good fats, protein and calcium. Sounds a lot like cheese to me. And I can’t drive (and 20 kms out of town), so am depending on friends and family to shop for me. I’m happy just to have food to eat. Plus, I can’t peel carrots or knead dough right now. From here on, my level of DIY has gone from ten fingers to five.
The day before I crashed, we did find sourdough bread sold in paper bags, which we spread with our own peanut butter, butter and cheese. Plastic, seed oil and sugar free on the go. We did manage it, mostly. And the ceramic coffee cups were well used. So we’re trying!
No more bicycle stunts for me. Bring on the comfrey please!