An Uphill Battle

A lot has happened since my last post.

First I went to Florida for the first time and I was fortunate to visit both sides of the peninsula. I went to Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side and Clearwater Beach on the Gulf side. The power and beauty of the ocean were mesmerizing. I saw all manners of creatures from dozens of different kind of birds to a manta ray to alligators to dolphins. Some animals were protected by the people who owned the land they called home. Some creatures were at the mercy of what may be in the wide open ocean. But all were beautiful in their own right.

I am proud to say I stayed straw free and only purchased three bottles of water on the entire trip. It should have been two but I forgot my cup (with my stainless steel straw) at the hotel one day.  I made a conscious effort to really look around me and see what was happening at the beaches. My son and I even picked up trash before it could be swept away by the tide. The throngs of people at the beaches with all of their plastic baggies that the wind so easily snatched away, made me re-evaluate my own use and disposal of baggies. I thought about how I could use reusable containers instead with only a little more effort on my part. Sure it takes a little longer to pack things in containers with lids, then haul those containers around after they are empty, and then my least favorite part, washing the darn things, but if that extra effort helps to reduce the amount of plastic introduced into our planet’s eco system, then I’m willing to do it.

Does that mean I went home and immediately threw away all of my baggies. No. But what I am doing is committing to not purchasing any more and using the ones I have very sparingly so that they will last a long time in my drawers only coming out when needed in a pinch. When I can, I am also washing and reusing them within reason. I have flown twice already this year and I am still on the same little baggie for the airport.  I am keeping it in my luggage and plan on reusing it until it rips rather than running to the baggie drawer for a new one every time I pack.

Did hauling around my own cup cause me any hardship on vacation? Nope. In fact often when I went into a dine and dash restaurant and told them I would get a drink but that I had my own cup, they would not even charge me for the drink!

As soon as we got home, we celebrated a high school graduation. You are probably already asking how on earth can this be related to reduce, reuse, recycle? This is my first attempt at actively reusing something – gift cards. I have been very guilty of using up a gift card and then simply throwing it in the trash or leaving it on the table or letting the cashier dispose of it. But guess what? They are ALL RELOADABLE! So as my grad and hopefully his friends use up their cards, I am collecting them to reuse for other occasions throughout the year, especially Christmas time. Not only will this keep those plastic cards from entering the eco system for at least one more round, it will keep me from running to the store to pick up a gift card every time I want to give a gift. I can just go to my stash, call the number on the back or go to the website, and reload it.

Three days after graduation, the unthinkable happened. My new grad was in a serious car accident. He is lucky to be alive, but had a broken back that needed surgery. I’ve spent the past week camped out at the hospital with him. He is going to be ok, but there is a long road of recovery and rehabilitation therapy ahead. The good news is that he can walk and will be able to live a full life still. So what does this have to do with plastic or the environment? Not a darn thing. In fact, I’ve used straws this week. Well I’ve utilized straws to help my son be able to drink since he can’t sit up all the way. Do I feel bad about it? Not enough to stop using them for him. Even though my stainless steel straw has a natural bend to it for convenience, it does not have nearly enough flexibility to make it useful for patients like my boy. I have continued to take my own cup with my own straw everyday because I can. I am more than happy to use a plastic straw for those who can’t. I will continue to try to convince people I come in contact with to forgo using a straw or bring their own with them. I will continue to do so myself. I will not be so dogmatic and uncaring as to not admit that there is a time and place where modern conveniences like plastic straws are not only acceptable but preferred. Does this make me a hypocrite. Maybe. I’d like to think it makes me a compassionate human being who just wants to make a suffering human being a little more comfortable.

 

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