Like many of you, I took a summer vacation. Always fun to be off the farm, out in the world, but hard for me to live as environmentally-friendly on the road, or in the air, as I do at home. And that’s sort of hard for me emotionally – because I really do try to walk my green talk whenever, wherever, possible. But traveling can make that hard. And sometimes it doesn’t even seem possible.
Traveling, we’re out of our element and out of our routines, so it’s a challenge to stay totally true to the cause. I mean, where are the recycling bins? How many containers and package wrappers does each fast food lunch need? I actually started to keep a list of the unnecessary plastic products I was handed on my first flight. By my second flight, I’d given up (the list – not the cause). Too depressing. Each passenger was given a plastic cup for water before take off. And then, who knows how many more throughout the flight. I kept wondering how easy it would be for the flight attendant to simply ask if we would mind keeping that one cup for the whole flight, instead of using three to four per person.
Would people? Would you think that was tacky? I’d think it was totally cool. But my flight attendant seemed nonplussed and sort of hassled when I said I didn’t need the stir stick and a second plastic cup for my tea bag. Pretty sure he thought I was wacky, just like, I’m afraid, my husband does. Pretty sure my kids do.
But I tell you, the more I learn about plastic, the more committed I am, the more comfortable I am, to stand out – if I have to – in order to say “no.”
Like at work, when we order boxed meals for lunchtime meetings. They come with bottled water. Nowadays, I’ve taken to ordering mine “Hold the water.” I know it irks some folks that I do it…but come on! It’s not like we are going on safari here (although lord knows corporate life has its wild side). We’re not even going on a picnic. We’re eating in a conference room with a lunchroom and water fountain down the hall, 20-feet away.
So wacky as it may seem – I’m going for it. I’m going for holding on to one cup throughout the flight, getting my water from the water fountain, and telling the lunch counter person just
wrapping the sandwich in paper alone is fine. (If I’m just about to eat it, I don’t need my paper-wrapped sandwich put in Styrofoam box and then a bag).
Do I think my actions will make a difference on their own? No. I doubt they will. But…If all, or even a bunch of us, got comfortable using less, and speaking out about it – then yes, it could make a tremendous difference. Maybe even all the difference we need. And maybe the boxed lunch folks might throw in an extra cookie – with all they’d save by not including water!