This summer has been one of tremendous change for me personally. I have made a conscious effort to continue to reduce the amount of plastic I use as well as the amount of trash our household generates. It is very hard to do this as I am alone in this fight among my family to make the world a better place. Even though I have tried to make it as easy as possible to involve them in the recycling process in our home, I get little help. Often I am left digging through the trash and recycling bin to sort the stuff they heedlessly throw in. It is very discouraging, made even more so by the comments made like, “what you do doesn’t matter” or “your efforts are too insignificant to make a difference.”
There have been lots of tears and arguments, but I will not be dissuaded. What I do CAN make a difference. Every little effort helps. Would it be better if more people got on board? ABSOLUTELY! But just because it is a small movement does not mean that it is insignificant. I know my family is often embarrassed when I drag out my metal straw in restaurants or tell the people in the drive thru that I don’t need the offered straw, but if even one other person sees my action or asks about it, it gives me an opportunity to share with them how damaging plastics are to our environment and straws are just an easy way to start to make a difference.
I have also begun to reduce the amount of plastic I bring into the house through packaging. I am doing the no shampoo hair cleaning regiment and loving it! It was a little weird at first to not have all of the luxurious lather on my head, but I still came away with clean, fresh smelling hair, so no complaints here! I use recycled plastic water bottles to hold my cleaning and conditioning solutions, so I will no longer be bringing in shampoo in plastic bottles.
Another change I have made is not using the plastic bags in the produce isle to separate my fresh produce. I take my own bags now. That was a super easy decision and change. Even if I forget to take my bag, I don’t use the plastic bags, I just put my loose fruit and vegetables together for the short ride home. They seem to get along just fine as far as I can tell.
I also initiated a procedure at my job that helps the environment in a couple of ways. I work at a local library and the cards that we give to new patrons come in a sheet of 6 that the individual cards can then be punched out of. What is left is much like the plastic pieces that hold a six pack of soda together only more rigid. When I started, those plastic sheets were simply thrown in the trash. I volunteered to recycle them if everyone would put them in a box for me. Additionally I asked the other employees to cut all of the sheets in half so that there would be no chance of any wildlife becoming entangled in them. Everyone was very encouraging and accommodating of the new arrangement.
I know I can’t make a very significant difference on my own, but I cannot sit back and do nothing anymore now that I know what is happening to our planet. Am I completely plastic free? Not by a long shot, but I keep making changes to use less and that is a step in the right direction. I am reading books and articles about what others are doing to use less plastic and seeing what I can implement right away and what I can make as short and long range goals. The point is that I am trying. I’m not giving up. If you are in this fight and feel all alone sometimes, remember that there are many of us out there doing the very best we can as well. Keep fighting.