There is something that has been on my mind lately, and I just cannot seem to shake it. It is the carefree attitude that I feel surrounding me regarding disposable products and their use over more durable reusable products. Just a few examples come to mind.
Every single time I go to a store, whether it is a supermarket, pharmacy, or otherwise — I have to tell the salesperson that I do not need a bag, or a cheap plastic one will be forced on me. I almost always have a reusable bag with me — and before you try to tell me about how many times one needs to reuse a reusable bag in order to make it worth having, the bag I carry with me daily has now been reused approximately 1,500 times. I often will place the bag well within visible range of the person checking me out and yet they will be the ones who appear to be exasperated by my request.
When I see that there are some places that are moving to ban plastic bags entirely, I rejoice… until I read some of the comments that people leave on articles regarding such bans. You would think these people think that they have a constitutional right to be able to get an infinite number of plastic bags at no cost to them based on the vitriol they spew.
On a regular basis I get a drink for my wife at Starbucks — and I nearly always bring a reusable tumbler. It is excellent because not only does it save a disposable cup from being used, but when I get a hot drink it actually keeps the drink hot for a few hours, regardless of how cold it is outside. (Whenever you’re ready to come, Spring, I will be more than happy to greet you!) Despite this and the fact that I clearly have the environment in mind when ordering the drink, there are some baristas who will take a whole cup, write my drink order on it, and then couple it with my reusable tumbler — because how else are they supposed to communicate my drink order to the person making the drink? I have asked, “What was the purpose of my bringing a reusable tumbler if you were just going to waste a paper cup anyhow?” and have been met with baffled stares and half-hearted apologies.
Plastic utensils — I have seen a hilarious photo of a plastic spoon captioned with the following : “It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you’re done with it.” The same tragically goes for the most heinous of disposables — Styrofoam cups. Some days I feel as though I am choking in a sea of them. I see them every morning at the synagogue where I pray and even though one helpful gentleman brought in some lovely earthenware, people walk right past the mugs and take the disposable cups instead. Every single person I have asked on the subject has told me that they don’t want to take the time to wash the mugs. I have informed them that it takes no more than twenty seconds to wash the mugs. No matter. It is twenty seconds too long. Better to chug and chuck instead — and hello, hundreds of years in a landfill!
The day that I really quit disposables (to the best of my ability) was the day that I started thinking about disposables multiplying. One disposable cup and spoon is not a lot. One of each a day makes three hundred and sixty five of each per year, give or take. A decade of that and the number of people that do this daily — and you have a disastrous heap of trash that is not going anywhere anytime soon. Do your part — use and reuse and reuse and reuse…