I’m a Positive Ripple Effect

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

As the person that does most of the grocery shopping and meal prep in our household, I am very aware of how much packaging we go through on a daily basis. And it’s not just  grocery items, but practically everything we buy is wrapped or packaged in plastic. Yes, we recycle, but it’s not uncommon to put out 2 recycling bins every garbage day just for the plastic! 

It can seem like an overwhelming task. After all, can the changes we make individually really make a difference globally? There is a beautiful quote by Mother Teresa; “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”  I can only control what I do. So if I want to see positive change in my community and the world, the change needs to start with me.

It really is about awareness. I lead monthly workshops from my home, and I’ve been offering individual plastic water bottles to help keep my participants hydrated. It seemed like an easy, sanitary choice. To be honest, I didn’t give alternatives any thought. Ironically, I always use a reusable water bottle that I refill often to hit my daily water quota. In thinking of ways I could change my consumption of plastics it dawned on me that last summer I had bought a large glass water jug for a barbecue we were hosting. So this morning I did a quick search of the basement, found it, cleaned it up, and it is ready to go for the next workshop! I’ll add some fresh lemon and lime slices, or maybe cucumber slices and mint and now everyone can stay hydrated with no plastic bottles to recycle. Such an easy change once I just put a little focus and awareness on it! 

My husband takes lunch to work every day so we made the change from plastic to glass containers, which we also use for reheating leftovers. I understand this may not be the best option for little ones. As we found out with our son as he was growing up, if it could be broken or lost, it usually was! As adults though, using glass containers is an easy shift that is also a healthier one.

When stores began charging for plastic grocery bags a few years back in an effort to help people make the change to fabric bags, we switched immediately. They were better than plastic, not just for the ecological value, but they were sturdier and held more than the plastic bags. Like most change, the intention can be good but the application is where the challenge is! Many times, I found myself at the store having forgotten to bring the bags with me, so then of course I had to buy a couple more. I’ve now worked out a habit that once I unpack our groceries, I put the empty bags by the front door and take them out to the car the next time I leave the house. The simple act of having the bags by the front door acts as a visual cue to remind me to bring the bags to the car so I have them handy when I shop. Again, a simple change once I gave it a little thought and put it into practice.

When we change, we stand as an inspiration or example for others to do the same. Maybe my workshop participants like the water jug idea and decide to use one at their home. Maybe our kids grow up having a greater awareness and education around the damage that plastics cause to our environment, and make better choices themselves. For me, moving forward, it comes down to awareness and a willingness to be open to change. 

Written by: Kirsten Frey

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