“Do we have any cold water bottles?” – The sing song voice of my sister’s question hit me sideways, as the idea of single use plastics makes me cringe. Then I heard the answer, “No”. While I’d like to say that my heart was flipping cartwheels, I really was to busy trying to get everything ready to go to the pool to realize the enormity of the situation. I don’t remember who was speaking at this point, but I do remember the idea behind the words – all my preaching was working it’s way into the practices and habits of my family!
Yes, I’m one of those people who does more than recycle plastic, I refuse it every possible chance! What does that mean? It’s simple, I tell people, vendors and corporations that I don’t want their plastic. I do what it takes to avoid new single use plastic in my life, I recycle everything that should be recycled, regardless of what the recycling company requests I limit my items to (in order to assist with their profit model). I may be considered a radical by many, including my own family, but that’s just how I roll – revolutions don’t occur quietly and change doesn’t happen effectively without leaders giving the example.
By the way, this task isn’t for the meek in heart or spirit. I mean consider any given day in your world – unless you are out somewhere in the part of the world that resembles the planet pre 1850’s, you have used plastic that has been viewed as ‘Single Use Plastic’. This could have been in the form of a portable beverage container, drinking straw, a sandwich bag, a plastic grocery sack, and the packaging your food came in – it’s all considered single use plastic by the manufacturer.
Single use – it’s interesting to think about how many things in the world are intended to be single use. Besides toilet paper and tampons there aren’t many things that I can truly justify as single use, other than Gasoline and other burned fuel sources. I’m sure the reasons why items aren’t make for single use are obvious, but today I want to focus on just one of them.
We have a limited amount of natural resources. Yes I said limited. For every manufactured item, there were a series of process that had to be used to extract and refine the natural elements from our planet. For every step of that process cost time, energy and financial expense. This is true for both natural as well as man made products. A great example of the realities of limited and finite resources can be found in the work of John Muir and Stephen Mather who proved to America’s west that responsible use and conservation efforts are necessary to provide resources and stability for generations to live off the land and enjoy it’s beauty. These efforts from 100 years ago are what have allowed our great nation to preserve the natural beauty we have today, while having provisioned to provide income not only for past generations, but for those of the foreseeable future as well.
While these examples of conservation show that American’s have the potential to protect and preserve the resources we have, no effort has ever been successful without a battle of some sort. I have a feeling that these battles will wear many of you down. I know they do me. Which is why it’s important to stand back and appreciate every once in a while. It becomes apparent that while progress may be slow, it happens. This is the reason I have to step back for a moment and acknowledge this win publicly. So the next time your friends do something simple like rinsing out a plastic container and putting it the recycling bin, or requesting that no straws be brought to the dinner table when going out to eat, or when family members start bringing grocery bags and stop buying plastic water bottles – remember that these are huge wins in the fight against plastic.