As we celebrate the California Assembly passage of California’s State-Wide Plastic Bag Ban, I am thinking about he problem with the proliferation of plastic in our society.
Everywhere we look, there are disposable plastic products. Bags, forks, spoons, straws, wrappers, packets…Disposable ~ made to be used once, then thrown away.
The thing is, there is no “away” to throw things to. Our garbage is getting dumped into holes in the ground ~ sometimes shipped across the planet to other people’s land and dumped there.
Also, most plastic is made from petroleum. Oil. We use it to run our cars, create electricity, heat our homes and our stoves. Petroleum is a precious resource that we are running out of. We shouldn’t be tossing it after one use.
To make the problem of plastic disappear, it’s going to take all of us making wise choices to use less plastic. We say it in pretty much all of our EarthCapades performances. And we mean it! But how do we practice that in our day to day lives?
We try. We have to carry everything down 287 steps to get to our house at EarthCapades Home Base, so we are very conscious about what we buy. We bring our own bags to the store ~ We’ve done that longer than I can remember.
We carry our refillable water bottles with us, have our bamboo ToGo Ware in our backpacks for when we’re eating out. We carry our “Festi-kit” in our car ~ a canvas lunch bag filled with a bowl, spoon and fork for each of us for camping, music festivals, picnics and parties.
These things have become habits for us ~ just what we do. But of course we’re not perfect. No one is ~ we are all ~ each one of us ~ doing the best we can in this crazy world. My intention is not to inspire guilt in myself, my family, or anyone else. Sometimes we forget our wooden utensils, or the plastic comes on the plate because we didn’t know not to ask for it. We leave our grocery bags at home. We move on.
But here at EarthCapades Home Base, I think its time to step it up. As I tore open a package of organic quinoa from Trader Joe’s today, I realized that I’ve been becoming more reliant on packaged products lately. I can buy quinoa in bulk. I have 2 containers of sauerkraut and 2 cabbages waiting to be fermented ~ why keep buying the containers when the non-packaged version is so easy?
As we step into the Fall ~ the beginning of the school year, a growing moon here in the Northern Hemisphere, the start of the year in the Jewish calendar ~ I commit more deeply to walking our talk. To reducing the amount of packaged food we buy as a family. As a start, I will
- Make my own sauerkraut. It is so easy! Here is a link to our friend Sandor Katz’s recipe from Wild Fermentation.
- Buy grains and nuts in bulk. This will mean a monthly trip to Rainbow Grocery.
- Make my own almond milk. That’s what I kept the dang Vitamix for : ) That way, I know there are no additives, and I make sure the whole almond gets used. Here is a recipe that is pretty much what I do. I like to use my almond pulp for baking, and I also use it to make a ricotta cheese-like filling for my vegan lasagna.
In some environmental education circles, the narrative is to focus on what is easy. In our culture, recycling is the poster child for that. Most communities have some sort of recycling collection. Honestly, recycling is the least we should be doing as a society ~ Closing the Loop ~ making sure that what we’re using can be used again, not just sitting in a hole taking up space.
I think that the conversation needs to change. For those of us who are privileged enough to be making these choices, I think we can afford to sacrifice a bit of convenience.
Now I recognize that there are those who can’t make these choices, and a full spectrum of experiences around how challenging it is to meet basic needs. Our family has food on the table, a roof over our heads, an always changing view of the ocean out our windows, and many things to be grateful for.
I can take a little time to cut up my cabbage and throw it in a jar with some salt. I can remember to soak my almonds before I go to bed and throw them in the Vitamix the next day with some water and a little vanilla and let ‘em whirl. I can schedule a trip to Rainbow Grocery one morning a month after dropping Kai off at school.
For me this might mean waking up a little earlier, spending less time on Facebook, throwing the cabbages on the cutting board while I’m making dinner. Not so much, really.
What about you? Where do you practice conservation in your life? Is there a commitment you or your family would like to make to reducing your use of natural resources? Inspire us and let us know in the comments.