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Francesca Anderson

Anthropologist/Actor/Model/Burgeoning Designer

28

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Plastic forks and the demise of humanity

I like convenience as much as the next person. And hell, I like to eat more than the next person. Looking at this plastic fork, I see why it exists: it’s disposable. It’s “easy”. We love it when things are disposable. I’m convinced people are more likely to buy something when it says “disposable” on the label - commitment is scary.

Four-pronged: a real “four-k”. White. A tiny C47 inscribed in the back, a plastic code. Portable. Losable. Throw-away-able. Forgettable. Amazing, that our culture values ease over long-term environmental viability. We are creatures of convenience, for better or for worse - but in the case of the plastic fork, definitely for worse. 

The real reason that I’m looking at this plastic fork, meditating on its ugliness is because: I ordered goddamn Chinese food. I didn’t even WANT this fork; I wanted chopsticks. That’s what’s really pissing me off about this one, silly little utensil. Thinking it redundant to ask for chopsticks at the take out place, I didn't even consider telling them to keep their grubby, disposable cutlery for the next person. But here I am, with my wonton soup and lo mein and fortune cookie, eating dinner with Satan’s Fork.

In my defense - I usually consider myself a pretty conscientious (or maybe just guilt-ridden) person when it comes to environmental awareness. I recycle carefully, green-bin when I’m in cities that have compost collection, employ a Nalgene water bottle over the Dasanis and Fijis and Smart Waters, turn off the lights and the water like Sesame Street told us to...all the "Captain Planet" things to do. My problem as I eat my lo mein tonight- and perhaps, our collective problem - is to blame the individual, and not see the the systematic issues at play that contribute to an unhealthy planet.

“Every vote matters”, in my book, is a valid sentiment. However, “every plastic fork that goes to landfill matters” is slightly (but only slightly!) less true. The idea that my one decision at dinner is going to affect the earth’s future is simply untrue. Plastic forks, bottles, plates, takeout boxes - they’re all getting produced at a rate that overpowers the individual. Unlike a vote, which is created solely from involvement, plastics and packaging are being born every minute, despite one's personal consumer behavior.

The blame for huge amounts of waste should not rest on the shoulders of the consumer. The finger should be pointed at the original mother-forker: commercial packaging companies, or rather, the lack of legislation on what kinds of industrial packaging materials should have been stopped in their tracks before they became normalized in North American consumer culture.

So, as far as I’m concerned, eat your dinner on or with whatever. Get coffee exclusively from places with styrofoam, if you want. Until the government or the U.N. or some new regulative body emerges to stop this horrible (definitely not cradle-to-cradle) cycle of waste-making, I’m going to be lazy and just say “fork” it.

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