Driving I-95 S. With Plastic or Planet.

It’s Friday morning, I’m in traffic heading south on I-95.  It’s Susan’s car, the change unsettling. Her car is new, power steering is sensitive, dials not where they should be. Both hands grip the steering wheel, fingers caress the soft cowhide leather – – Humpty Dumpty is not all back together again, still jumpy from trees falling out of the sky from the long day, longer.  A call earlier in the morning from Allstate offered a status update on my car: $9,600 for repair; no estimate as to completion.

I pass Exit 7 near Stamford.  A few feet in front is the driver of a late model Toyota Camry. She lowers her window and dumps her ashtray, the cigarette butts skip on the highway, gum wrappers follow. Wow.

Wednesday evening it was Planet or Plastic? An image so jarring, so scarring, and impossible to shake.

Tuesday, on Metro North, a Suit sipping his coffee, sets the cup on the floor between his feet while he surfs on his smartphone. He bumps his cup, the coffee leaks under the seat into the middle of the aisle.  He grabs his brief case, looks down at the cup, looks around to see if anyone is looking, and exits the train. The train empty, the cup and the spill left behind.

It’s Monday morning. I write down a few To Do’s, decide they weren’t in priority order, then toss the note in the trash can. I start my list again, forget two critical items, toss it away again. The lettering on the trash can: “Paper only. Save our Planet.” Trees falling all over.

It’s late last night. I’m drawn to NatGeo’s feature essay on Planet or Plastic.  The loggerhead turtle is caught in a discarded fishing net, it struggles desperately, gnawing at the industrial strength webbing trying to escape to the surface to breathe.

Boris Pasternak, in a letter to his cousin Olga Freidenberg in May 1929, said “The greatest things in the world clothe themselves in boundless tranquillity.”

Where’s the greatness DK? Where?

Photo: National Geographic, June, 2018. An old plastic fishing net snares a loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean off Spain. The turtle could stretch its neck above water to breathe but would have died had the photographer not freed it. “Ghost fishing” by derelict gear is a big threat to sea turtles. (Photo by Jordi Chias)



  1. No GPS can help, when we’ve chosen to lose our way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, the tragedy of it all – and the limitless lack of care of ever more people, for each other, for the property of others, for the nature, surrounding, the water and air…. I feel sick and ill all of a sudden. NOT a good post, but necessary, scary, true and IF ONLY it would be a wake-up call for all those ‘drivers, suits, others’. Sadly, they just ‘drive, throw, study their phones’ but don’t CARE.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wouldn’t you better ‘just’ buy another car? That seems an awful lot of money and yet it won’t make your poor car ‘better’ or will it?! Hope you’ve got an excellent insurance 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NatGeo on Instagram has posted a series of images relating to that, one photo of a kid sitting in a mountain of plastic was haunting. And, it’s not only not recycling. There are people who invest in selling our used plastic to other parts of the world. And, according to them, they don’t want us to stop using plastic, they want us to use more, but recycle. The goal is to reduce plastic usage.

    On a lighter note, I got a call from Allstate few days ago. Someone hit my side mirror while the car was parked at work.

    Allstate: Is your car a sedan?
    Me: No, it’s a Hyundai.
    Allstate: Sedan?
    Me: No! Hyundai Sonata
    Allstate: Mam, is it a sedan, SUV,….?”
    Me: it’s just a regular car.
    Allstate: it is a sedan.
    Me: I guess it is a sedan!

    They can only teach you so much English as a second language. Esam said please don’t tell anyone 😡

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m always appalled.when I see an ashtray dump – usually in a parking lot. Really? You couldn’t walk your butt to the garbage? I’m.sure they convince themselves that its ok. It’s biodegradable .. gross.

    We’ve made a mess of our planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This photo and all it portends leaves me speechless.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. the dumping of the ashtray and leaving behind of the cup are both very telling, as to the character of the people who made those conscious choices. they are more important than others in this world and if they don’t have to see how they impact the rest of the world, all the better. very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m came across this article on greatness just after I read your post: http://thewandererpress.com/catholic/news/featured-today/what-greatness-requires/
    It was too much of a coincidence to overlook. I hope you have the time to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for sharing Sarah. These excerpts particularly moved me:

      In a world such as ours, where mediocrity and confusion reign, where leaders mislead us and governments deceive us, the need for greatness is particularly critical. What is greatness, we may well ask? If we are not clear about the nature of this esteemed quality, how easy it is to settle for any number of its counterfeit forms.
      Count Henri Claude de Rouvroy de Saint-Simon, an eighteenth-century philosopher, provides us with an amusing, though unhappy example, of this type of mistake. As his rolling name suggests, he was an aristocrat. Each morning, as a youth, a valet wakened him to the words: “Arise, Monsieur le Comte, you have great things to do today.” . . . . . They seem to have embraced all the qualities of greatness. But we return to the question, “What is greatness?”
      ….. “Nothing great is accomplished in the world save through a heroic fidelity to some truth which a man who says ‘I’ sees, and to which he, himself, a human person, must fulfill; of which, perhaps, he alone is aware and for which he lays down his life.” This sentence includes four factors that greatness requires: truth, fidelity, person, and self-sacrifice, all of which are disputed in the modern world.
      Many dismiss truth as a presumption, fidelity as a form of stubbornness, person as a mere individual, and self-sacrifice as both foolish and imprudent. Here we find reasons that explain the scarcity of greatness. What does the person of greatness “see,” as Maritain indicates, in the truth of things? In the moral sphere, he “sees” the sanctity of life, the dignity of the person, that the end does not justify the means, the imperative nature of the Golden Rule, and the fundamental importance of love.



  9. This is just heartbreaking! My only hopeful thought was that the photographer would have a knife with him to cut the turtle free. But there is so much of this tragedy going on – it’s overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We all have a part to play fixing this ugly mess. One day at a time. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. my sons are get angry with waiters who bring straws to our table, ever since a visit to the turtle hospital in the FL Keys. I’m horrified by what the film Smog of the Sea (with a great Jack Johnson soundtrack) reveals about ocean plastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Humans have no natural predators (except themselves). This seems to be the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The bear, which could reach either of them in two easy scooches, loses interest. It stands on the lakeshore, wondering if today might be a good day for a swim. It regards the chest-deep woman in the water holding her tiny daughter on high like she’s about to baptize the girl. It waits to see what the always insane species will do next. It wanders over to Winston, who has been sitting stock-still at the camping table, taking pictures…goes click, snick, whir. Winston rises to his feet as the animal approaches. Then he starts to chatter to the bear. In Chinese…This baffles the bear, who reconsiders his whole approach to the situation. Sadness percolates up in him. He sits and claws at the air. Winston keeps talking. It astounds Mimi, this alien language coming from her father’s mouth. Winston draws a handful of pistachios from his pocket and tosses them into the latrine. The bear ambles after them, grateful for the diversion. “Get in car,” Winston shout-whispers. “Fast!” They do, and the bear doesn’t even lift its head…That night, at the campsite near Norris, Mimi asks him, awed. Her father has changed before her eyes. “Weren’t you afraid?” He laughs, embarrassed. “Not my time yet. Not my story.” The words chill her. How can he know his story, ahead of time? But she doesn’t ask him that. Instead, she says, “What did you say to it?” His brow crumples. He shrugs. What else is there to say, to a bear? “Apologize! I tell him, people very stupid. They forget everything—where they come from, where they go. I say: Don’t worry. Human being leaving this world, very soon. Then the bear get top bunk to himself again.” …

      Their father talking to the animal in Chinese—two creatures, not quite of the same order, sharing the same woods.

      ~ Richard Powers, The Overstory: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company, April 3, 2018)


  13. Plastics, polythene bags all are consuming our rivers, lakes, ponds. Tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: