I get many questions about whether I think what I do is enough to make a difference in the world. My clear answer to that is NO. Obviously, just my reusable bags, mugs, cups, utensils and everything else is not going to change the world. And I genuinely believe it is the right direction. The more people live this way, the more it will make a difference and cause the change we and our planet needs. It will not happen overnight, though it will happen.
Recycling isn’t the answer. That might sound interesting coming from me, who’s trying to get everybody to recycle anything and everything that touches their hands, especially if it has plastics in it.
There are plenty of articles out there, and experienced conservationists worried about people “feeling good about themselves” because they recycle and choose to buy from more eco-conscious companies. Sometimes awareness of recycling causes people to justify higher consumption. (I recycle anyway). Still, recycling isn’t the best solution.
This does NOT mean do NOT recycle. Recycling is necessary. It is not the answer.
It also does NOT mean go on and buy Coca-Cola, DuPont, 3M, Nestle, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc. products.
And most importantly, it also does NOT mean go ahead and use everything freely and abundantly since you’re able to recycle and buy from eco-conscious companies. Buying a plastic item that is made of recycled ocean plastics is still buying a plastic item. The key question to ask is what do you do with it after it’s been used?
Breakaway from Consumerism
The point is we are a consumerist society. The actual problem is not going to be resolved until people stop with the idea that every single person in their household “needs” a certain gadget – instead of first looking at ways to share (i.e TVs for instance). It’s not going to change as long as people think that it is their “right” to get bottled water from the corner store, since they are thirsty and didn’t bring a reusable bottle. Or that they can request a plastic fork and spoon to use for less than 10mins. It doesn’t mean that businesses can get away with “we have to be profitable to stay in business” without thinking about what the true cost of that profit really is.
We all need to act intelligently. Truly, intelligent. Humanely intelligent.
Fast fashion? It’s the most harmful and expensive thing that has probably hit humanity since single use items like straws, lids, cups etc. And also, perhaps especially, coffee pods.
We’ve seen how harmful single use straws, bottles and cups are why do we keep using the single use coffee pods?
The power of change and the magnitude comes when we are relentless, when we actually “make” the change visible. When we actually decline a ’way of living” from it’s roots.
What can you do?
Keep doing what you’re doing with recycling and avoiding single use plastics. It really DOES make a difference. It’s not as big a difference as we need at the moment, but it is a difference.
Meanwhile, keep writing to your governors and senators, keep bringing this up to your shop owners. Strive to grow your action and pledge not to get comfortable with “just” what you have accomplished so far. We need to strive for more in this one, the one where less is more. Our call is for persistence, relentless persistence in this road less traveled.
It is a big undertaking, it’s the type of change that truly needs to start from the people. Us awaiting that the businesses, corporations and governments are finally going to do the right thing is not happening. It hasn’t happened. It will NOT happen. The industry feeds and incentivizes them too seriously for them to turn around and say it makes ‘business sense’. It’s a concept I believe has brought a lot of good things to our Earth, enabled much for our kind and at the same time harmed each of us and our planet to the core. The fastest way for this type of change will make true business sense is if it’s driven by the consumers. You stop buying what you’re buying TODAY and see how quickly they get removed from the shelves and replaced with what YOU do buy. Things that are readily and easily recyclable, things that you truly need not impulse buys and things that are made sustainably.