Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Discipline over convenience

I don't need plastic grocery bags from the store. I remember reusable bags or I carry stuff out by hand. 

I don't need to take the straw that is given to me, I say thanks no straw and go without or use my own stainless steel straw.

I don’t need a single use coffee cup with a logo on it, I bring my own clean refillable cup and hand it to them when I order. I’ve never had anyone refuse to fill it and if I did I’d be finding a new coffee shop to patronize.

I don't need individual plastic water bottles. I bring a reusable one everywhere. 

I don't need to eat off of paper plates at home. I wash dishes. 

I don't need to take single use plastic utensils, I say thanks, no utensils because I carry a little reusable pack in my bag. 

There is privilege wrapped up in each of these, but most people reading here can afford the reusable bottle, bag, straw, and utensils and most of us have access to clean tap or filtered water. Not using any of the above mentioned single use items is not a sacrifice and it’s not difficult. It's being mindful of creating less trash.

Our desire to never be inconvenienced or have to think ahead is contributing to the pollution of the planet. If you use a set of throw away silverware every day and everyone else does too, where do you think the fork + knife wrapped in plastic x 365 days goes? It doesn't break down. And that’s just your trash from one encounter of single use plastic, no one else’s. 

For most of us, there is absolutely zero reason for the use of single use anything. Single use items place our individual desire for convenience over the collective need for a livable planet. When we lack discipline about what we eat or drink or how little we exercise or almost anything else, that impacts us and very few other people. When we assert our right to make as much trash as we want to, we impact the world at large. 

Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re doing when we push back against more sustainable living or forget or make excuses about why we need the throw away item  - we are asserting our right to use something once and throw it away. We are essentially demanding to be able to make more trash. Do we realize how ridiculous that is? Most of us hate trash: it smells, litter is terrible, we don’t want to take it out...yet we excuse ourselves into being able to create as much of it as we want because it’s more convenient to use something and throw it away. That’s wild.

I'm not perfect in regards to sustainability. I never have been and I never will be. I used to excuse myself, which allowed me to act like I felt so bad while still allowing myself to be comfortable and avoid inconvenience. Oh, I forgot my bag! I hate to do it, but I'll just take the bag one time. Nope. Now if I forget the bag, I carry it out by hand or I don't go to the store. If I forget the reusable coffee cup, I don’t buy coffee out. There are consequences to actions, and we shouldn’t be letting ourselves off the hook at the expense of the planet. I got sick of my own shit so I stopped making excuses for myself. I wasn’t doing my best and it was time to stop telling myself I was. Seeing all the plastic trash washing in from the ocean every weekend for more than eight months out of the year has sent me to a more militant place on single use plastics. 

Is this coming off as preachy? I used to try to avoid doing that when discussing living more sustainably, but at this point I seriously don't give a fuck. We all know how much plastic waste is being generated. Have we not seen photos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Are we ignoring that fish are swallowing microplastics so they're now in our food chain? At what point will we stop excusing ourselves from our part in consumption and actually stop consuming so mindlessly? And yes, I know corporations should clean their shit up before people, but we have to do something, and we should be pushing corporations to be better ecological citizens as well. If we stop taking the bags and the straws and the utensils, they’ll eventually stop making them. 

Before everything was takeaway food, people did eat and survive without all the packaging that makes our to go world run today. There are ways around mindlessly taking what we’re given. Living a life less throw away requires mindfulness and discipline. 

Is it convenient? Not always. But it’s worth it. 

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