This blog was started, and is intended to illustrate that environmentalism happens through small acts, is not difficult, and that it does not always have to be some big life changing event that forces you to live in the tree tops with no electricity. All that being said, one of my small acts was to start this blog to gain some friends to help me save the world.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Resistance: Proactive vs. Reactive

Resistance is a normal part of life, at least I would assume, since recently it has become a very familiar part of life for me.  And maybe it is my own fault, I tend to oversimplify ideas in my head, thinking that all the great and wonderful things I want to happen will just, well,  happen.  Instead reality slaps me across the face, and I find bureaucracy, resistance, and a lot of "no's"   But guess what people, things do not have to be so difficult, you can say yes sometimes.  And you know what, the more I here "no" the more determined I become to find a yes.  And when you do hear a yes, it is all the more sweet.  So what the frick am I talking about?  The plastic bag ban, this is what is bringing so much resistance into my life.  I have recently started an effort to get a plastic bag ban or fee ordinance implemented in my current city.  And so far it has been a very slow moving process.  And I honestly do not get it.  Unless you have some stock in making the plastic bags, I see no reason why you would put effort into a fight against it.  Taking your own bag is not that hard, I know because I do it.  And trust me when I say if I can do it ANYONE can do it.  I am a lazy lover of convenience, so it really cannot be that difficult.
The most shocking thing to me so far though in the process has been the resistance from people and groups that you would assume (and we all know what assuming does) would be obvious supporters.  I have been told over and over again that everyone hates plastic bags, but that the bags are not the problem.  Rather these resisters point the blame at the people who litter them as the problem; or that getting something like this accomplished is too difficult because it is more of a cultural shift rather than a change in ones shopping bags; or the best,  what will I pick my dog poop up with?  So lame.  Seriously?  
Here is the cultural shift I see, not going from plastic bags to reusable ones, but rather going from a reactive culture to a proactive culture.  We know there is a problem, and here is an easy solution, a source reduction.  Reactive activities are great, like organizing litter clean up days, I am in full support of that.  But if there was a way to cut down on litter and the amount of junk that one of those cleaners had to pick up wouldn't that be a good idea.  Now I get that being proactive would be huge cultural shift, one that I could not even imagine trying to undertake, because lets be honest it would take ages.  But taking your own shopping bag is easy, and should happen, in the grand scheme of things, relatively quickly.  I get that being proactive is difficult insomuch as you have to be fully aware of an imminent problem, which as mere mortals we are not always fully in the know.  But when we are, issues such as pollution we should do something about.  Isn't there more economic value in forward thinking rather than a quick, fast buck?
I just think that with all the resistance I have come against, it proves that taking your own shopping bags when you go out is not really the issue at all.  Rather it is a cultural shift changing from reactive to proactive thinking.   If we are always reacting when will we start moving forward.  So at this point I am not going to tackle an entire paradigm shift, but I can try to change part of it, with my handy dandy bag ban (or fee, which I have heard is more socially acceptable).  So come on lets try being proactive with a bag ban as a solution to reducing plastic pollution. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

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Bags, Bottles, and Boxes

I know it has been a while since I have written anything.  But I had started, or maybe a better word is desperately tried, to write a post the other day, and it was horrible.  Even for me it was horrible, and I know that I am no writer, so if I say that you know it is bad.  I had to give up on it, and so I decided to go back to some basics of this site, stop trying to be so philosophical (because that is not me).  The basics being ideas around bags, bottles, and boxes.
I sort of abandoned the other post and came to this one because I am currently working to make my current home city a plastic bag free town.  Not as easy as I had made it out to be in my head (so many voices), but I am not going to give up (that would be pretty lame to give up right after I just started, and even I am not that lame (I don't think)).  Now it was not just the plastic bags lead be me here (here being "back to basics").  I came to this post because I also heard a quote the other day that for me really sums up my whole attitude or ideas about waste.  All the quote said was when you throw something away, where is away?  There is no away (Thanks Bag It the movie).  So spot on.  There is no away, it always goes somewhere.  I have attempted a few times to say this, just not so eloquently, by butchering and  skewing the law in physics that states matter, is neither created nor destroyed, but it was the same point I was trying to drive home.  So enough already why I am writing, how about getting to the bags, bottles, and boxes.
Bags:  Use your own reusable grocery bag.   So easy.  Never take plastic and help save the world.  Not really a lot you can say about this idea.  And as I have mentioned many times before do not limit your use of reusable bags to grocery stores.  Reusable bags can be used anywhere.  So lets just be clear do not take plastic bags.  If you can think of other ways to limit your plastic in take, then do that too.  But a super easy starting point, is just saying no to the single use plastic bag.  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am now you can check that save the world to do item off your list.
Bottles:  Now I am sure that you think I may be talking about water bottles, and I am not  not talking about water bottles here, but the specific reference I was trying to make here was hotel shampoo bottles.  So lets take this one in steps.  Step one, never drink bottled water.  Again so easy, and so cheap.  Just get any sort of reusable bottle fill it with water and drink that.  Remember tap water in most places is regulated more than what is sold to you in water bottles.  Also if you think about the amount of energy it takes to make and transport disposable water bottles, I am certain you will probably find it easier to walk over to the tap.  OK so now that we got those bottles out of the way we can tackle step two of bottles.  Which is hotel shampoo bottles. Similar to Leftover Love and taking your own shopping bag, we need to get hotels to stop using disposable shampoo bottles.  I wrote about a hotel we stayed in last year that was just amazing.  They offered all the same amenities (and more) that people have come to expect, but what was different was that nothing was disposable.  Their shampoo was in super cute little clay bottles that they just refilled when empty.  So easy.  So simple.  Every hotel should be doing this.  Imagine the savings, not only to their bottom line, but to the stuff going to the landfill.  And lets be honest the shampoo that is generally provided is not the kind one would prefer to have any way, usually the chemical kind that is not good for you.  And I do not want any more little shampoo bottles coming home with me anyway, I want less stuff now thank you.  And this solves that issue, and some other bigger ones as well.  And since you cannot always take your own shampoo due to air safety regulations you are not forced to buy anything extra, but know that the waste you are creating by travel is being reduced by the super smart people in hotel industry.  (Disclaimer, travel is a guilty pleasure, that we work hoard and save up in order to be able to do it.  I know it is not always good for the planet, but travel and my bad habits are not what the post is about, will save that for next time).
Boxes:  And lastly we come to boxes, and all I have to say here is LEFTOVER LOVE.  Take your own container or box if you ever eat out, and that way you are never forced to the take the disposable option the restaurant may offer.  (Disclaimer, again ignoring that eating out is not environmentally friendly, but please note that saving leftovers is very eco friendly).  Every little bit counts, and the more an individual can keep out of the landfill the better off we all will be.  Side note I would like to mention that I was out for a small celebration the other night and offered to give a stranger my clean and unused reusable container so she did not have to take the polystyrene box they were offering her, and she turned me down.  But at least I tried, and hopefully next time she will have her own because I could see she liked the idea, just maybe not the crazy trying to give her a container.
So in closing (like how formal I have become) I would like to add that I know these are all small ways to help, but they will add up fast and make a huge difference if enough people start.  I would also like to add, as a reminder for myself and others, that there are so many people on this planet that survive on a whole lot less than I do, so doing small actions such as the ones mentioned above should be a no brainer.  It is the ones with the advantages, that have access and the means (because disposable ain't cheap) to afford a disposable lifestyles that need to start making some sacrifices (if you can call taking your own bag or container as a sacrifice).  I am going to end here because I can say no more.  Oh wait I lied, use less, reduce, reduce, reduce.