Environmental care has always been a major concern of mine.
It began when I was eight years old, and my Sunday school teacher signed myself and a few other church girls up to volunteer with a local link in a corporation to clean up or surrounding parks and rivers.
It seems like a small thing now, as almost every kid I know has done something of the sort. The thing that really made that switch click though, was a pair of mallard ducks swimming in the river. One was seemingly struggling more than her counterpart. The male was squawking and headed toward us.
As an ignorant kid, I was afraid. I thought he was mad at us for being in his space. So I backed up. I watched them swim toward the boardwalk, and I backed up enough that my naïve little brain felt I could be safe but still keep an eye on them.
When he approached the edge of the board walk, he stayed in the water squawking. It seems weird to say now, but as a kid I could feel his desperation as he yelled at me. I swore he looked me in the eyes. So, I stepped closer. He didn’t fly or panic, he just let me get close to them. And when I peered in the water, the lady duck had her wing and foot wrapped in one of those 6 pack beer and pop holders.
As a scared kid, I called for an adult, as I couldn’t reach her out of the water myself. I remember crying and telling the grownup who came to my aid what happened, and together we pulled the scared duck from the river and freed her from her plastic trap. She squirmed and panicked, but eventually she was able to swim in the water freely again.
I will never forget that. This was in the early 2000s so the war on plastics hadn’t really begun yet. Everyone thought recycling was the solution to our problems. Those were the days, if you cared about the environment you biked to work, and cut your plastic rings before recycling them (which I still do…) Where “don’t litter” was the biggest environmentalist thing you heard commonly.
Obviously today, were in much deeper than just that. And every day, I think of my environmental footprint. What my choices are doing to my earth and my body. And I acknowledge that I’ve not made enough of a change.
To this point, I’ve chalked up a lot to my living circumstances. I lived in a home where my family didn’t care about environmental issues. Convenience matters more.
In my present living arrangement, we have more resources readily available to us. But our habits are poor. Reusable cups, reusable straws, reusable grocery bags, are all things in our present arsenal, that never were before. Yet, we don’t immediately reach for them out of habit.
A poor excuse, truly but the human mind is strange. And these things take time. And my partner is not as concerned as I am with these matters (although, he’s very supportive) and was never raised to see the damage we do (nor was I, truthfully)
But, I’m taking steps for us both. I have done extensive reading on less waste and zero waste living. My end goal here is to produce as little early damage as I can, while living within our means and still enjoying the things we’d normally enjoy.
Less waste, is obviously my stepping stone. I’ve long converted us to bamboo toothbrushes, and our casual (and kid friendly!) Dinner plates are bamboo also. I try to buy natural materials and avoid plastics. We have a few vices (Starbucks, anyone?) And a few week points, but we’re trying.
I’d like to know if anyone reading this has done the less waste or zero waste transition? What are some key points, things I should avoid and things that will change my life?
I also am conflicted in one major manner.
As a person who loves our mother earth deeply and wholly, and a deep lover of all her creations, including animals, I’ve come upon a large pain point for myself.
I transitioned to vegetarianism four years ago. I went cruelty free a few years prior. The safety and well being of animals is equally important to me. The struggle I encounter is simple. Many animal passed products such as leather and fur, are biodegradable, and are safe for our planet to break down. Of course my hang up being the cruelty the animals face, and the farms that put them into these positions (like anything I do know you can find ethically sourced leather, hides often used from animals harvested for other purposes, and furs as well ) but the leather or fur alternative is ALWAYS plastic, or unattainable. I have two key defining principles who contradict each other in this instance.
Of course one option is to eliminate things that contain leather, fur or the false version of such. But so many vital items contain one or the other. Jackets, shoes, belts, etc. How do I chose between natural and cruelty free, especially when plant based is not an option.
This is a hard travelled road. But I’m grateful to see many humans making the change, and though I’m not much of a trend follower (nor, a trend setter) I’m happy to hop on the less waste bandwagon.
Today I have many steps ahead of me. A brimming recycling bin, that could be reduced by using less. Things plugged in that aren’t in use, a plastic bag holding things bought at a bulk food store. Changes I can make, and know how to. Of course I’m not going to walk through my home, and throw away all things not ethically sourced. That will defeat the purpose. But I’m making the decision to slowly transition for a better alternative as my previously purchased items no longer work for me. And change the things I can, now. Bar soap, and shampoo bar anyone ?
(Ps: anyone know of a decent curelty free/plastic free deodorant?? )
Please feel free to comment advice or thoughts. I am starting my journey, acknowledging the mistakes I’ve made so far and looking for ways to grow and change that.
Blessings and positivity.