In which I fill my kitchen with bags of trash, and visit the dentist.

Some have asked what my Lenten Practices practice is in specific this year, and since I have small kids who learn with visuals, we opted that a main part of our practice would be to save and sort our plastics and glass. For the moment, that means I have three bags against the kitchen wall: one for the recyclable plastics #1 and #2 (even though in my community of Little Rock, Arkansas only #1&2 bottles are recyclable--we'll sort them out later when we have more), one for all the other literal plastic trash, and another for glass--because we're making an effort to switch as many groceries into glass as possible, I'd like to see that amount amassed. Also, switching to glass yogurts has exponentially increased our glass use, and there's only so many tiny juice glasses I can use from them.

The other practice I have is literally telling people, "No plastic please, I gave it up for Lent." It's hard to say sometimes, because there's the fear of sounding snooty, but I've found that folks (in the South at least) don't mind hearing the reason for your damned odd behavior, and might even have pity on you and be willing to help.

"Sorry, I gave up plastic for Lent" honestly has a lot of different responses, but the most positive one lately was my dental hygienist. I genuinely was worried I'd be lectured for not using a plastic brush when I switched to a bamboo handle, but she just sweetly asked, "are the bristles SOFT plastic?" "I guess they have to be plastic, I don't think there is an alternative yet," I admitted. It's not a perfect solution. "At least the handle means less plastic ends up in the ocean," she replied, before telling me that she was trying to use less plastic by using cloth bags and getting groceries in glass. She was honestly the first person I'd encountered in the world who was also trying to give up plastic. It was a weird moment of solidarity. I confessed (at last!) to switching to a tooth powder instead of a paste in a non-recyclable tube, and she peered into my mouth. "No, your teeth look good. The powder isn't hurting you, and might be helping your enamel. Good work." (YA'LL. THIS WAS LITERALLY THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER RECEIVED POSITIVE FEEDBACK ON MY TEETH AT A CHECKUP. I almost cried.) "And I can tell you floss. Keep that up. You could always switch to a water pick if you want to reduce more single use plastics."

Best. Dental Hygienist. Ever.

Turns out she's vegetarian too, and gasped, "Oh! But you wouldn't be able to use any of those meat substitutes that come in a plastic bag!" "Yes," I replied, "that's hard. We end up buying real meat from the counter at the grocery, but getting it wrapped in paper." We then swapped recipes for veggie chili and trying to get the consistency right, and agreed everyone just likes the seasonings anyway.

And it was all done during my cleaning, so much of my side of the conversation sounded to me like, "I ah iiing oo ot ooze asstic." She's good.

Then when it was time to go, she lifted up the plastic baggie with the plastic toothbrush and plastic toothpaste tube inside and said, "You don't want this do you? You're doing so well on your own." "No I don't," I replied, "But thank you for asking."

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