March 27, 2013

Me at Yoga Conference, offered a small cup of “Organic Coconut Water.” No, thanks.

Me at Yoga Conference, offered a small cup of “Organic Coconut Water.” No, thanks.

The lady paid to offer the organic coconut water? Why not?

I’m on a plastic diet, I smile, nicely, and go to move on.

Wha? She and another retail coconut guy say.

Realizing they haven’t thought much about it, so I’m not making any sense (ie they think I’m not eating plastic, now), I say “Oh—I’m trying to use as little plastic as possible.” I smile again, genuinely.

The woman looks offended. “You can recycle this!,” she insists.

“No…well…” realizing she has no idea what she’s talking about, and doesn’t care, and is mad, I apologize and move along, then chide them humorously for three days from the stage, like the Eco Boy that I am.

So: what’s the contradiction in offering coconut harvested halfway across the world, flown or shipped (it’s mostly water, so verrrry heavy) to us in plastic, then poured into a new plastic container? Well, it’s all ridiculous consumption, unnecessary, bad for our planet, all about making a buck for them and selfish wellness for us.

But the basic contradiction is this: plastic is forever. And when it’s used for one-time use, and we have a choice, it’s morally incumbent upon us to say “no, thanks,” nicely. We don’t have to be d**ks about it.

It’s all about fun education, not a moral failing in others. We don’t help by pre-judging others for not caring. It’s our job to make them care.

Finally, plastic isn’t really recyclable. Even if it is, which it’s not, really, it’s toxic from start to finish, including the recycling process. It’s carcinogenic, related to cancer and pollution, made out of petroleum that is won by turning the world from green to black and starting wars and creating all that pollution and disease. It never goes away: at best it breaks down and clogs our oceans and seashores and landfills and when animals or fish or birds eat it, and we eat them, we get it and all that comes with it.

Here’s some tips on going plastic-free, or at least plastic-lite, like me.


Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32.

Wikipedia says “Virgin plastic resin costs 40 percent less than recycled resin.”

Mixed plastic garbage is going to be almost impossible to process. PE, PVC, HDPE, etc all broken down in to tiny particles, and impossible to separate. Hell, I’d be surprised if burning the plastic would provide enough money to even pay the gasoline bill for these ships. It’s all going to be wet, too.

There’s a reason less than 1% of plastic is recycled.


So don’t use it in the first place. Say no to to-go cups. Say no to samples, unless they’re in waxed paper. Even compostable plastic isn’t so great.

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Mustapha Mar 22, 2016 10:08am

Thank you so much for writing this!

Robyn Dec 18, 2013 11:34am

How about the food miles? The lack of emissions controls in originating countries? The abuse of the social and Eco system in the origin country?
Say no to plastic bottles!
Say no to bottled water!
Say no to self-indulgent wellness fads!

Do some research. What makes ingredient A good for you? What is a local/closer option?

water features Aug 5, 2013 12:09am

If we are going to recycle the recyclable items like plastics then we can might minimize waste as well as come up to new product.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.