I can’t imagine that anyone would seriously say this. It sounds damn ridiculous. However. Everywhere that I look in books and media, I am seeing the devastating effects of plastics on our environment. It’s pretty damn hard to ignore. At least that’s what I thought.
You see, I’ve been noticing more and more that all around me the plastic problem doesn’t seem to exist at all. No one seems aware or seems to care, at least in my part of this country. How could one care when they offer to put a pack of gum into a plastic bag? I mean, what the fuck.
My daughter and I went into the drug store last night– Walgreens, I’m talking to you– and we bought a few things for a party I was having. We carried everything up to the register in our arms. The items weren’t heavy, so we were more than capable. While I’m putting my membership number into the system, my cashier starts bagging everything. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I say. “We don’t need bags.”
Her reply: “I already put them in. Oh yeah, I forgot that you’re one of those people.”
Now, to be clear, she didn’t say that in a disrespectful way, and I’m not trying to disrespect her here. I’m just using that comment to illustrate a point and a larger problem. She sees me as a type of person. The type of person that cares about the environment. This is a great compliment, and a label that I’m proud to carry. But why the hell does she see me as different from her or any other customer? Why the hell isn’t she the same type? Or the guy behind me, why isn’t he that type? Why do I stand out for not wanting plastic bags for items that we easily carried in our arms to the register?
I’m freaking upset people. When I told her that some states charge for the use of plastic bags and some are riding themselves of plastic bags altogether, she was genuinely surprised. Can it be that she is genuinely ignorant? Yes.
See, what I have to remember is that my reality isn’t going to mirror everyone’s reality. The articles and books that I’ve been reading, documentaries that I’ve been watching are not going to be on everyone’s feed or bookshelf.
A prime example of not knowing what you don’t know: About a week ago, one of my blogger friends Cheila over at Pink for Days mentioned in a post that the tiny little plastic beads in most body exfoliators is one of the biggest threats to clean water. These beads are extremely difficult to clean up. It’s not a plastic bottle that you see floating in the water and can easily lift out. I was shocked. I had never thought of that. Congress has actually passed a Microbead-Free Waters Act, signed by Obama, which is to ultimately phase out the use of them in face/body washes, and toothpastes, etc. Manufacturing is to end by July of this month and the selling of such products by July of next year.
I am a lover of exfoliators. As a matter of fact, about a month ago, I thought I had discovered the very best one on the market. It leaves my skin otherworldly, alien-technology smooth. I want to tell everyone the name of it, but that would be wrong, I think. My point is, I had no idea. My point is also that I’m super bummed about having to give up my body buffer (as the glossy mags like to call it). Well, they are probably busy working on a new formula. I will go back to using good old olive oil and brown sugar for my scrubs.
Now I don’t intend to sit on a high horse here and look down on everyone who uses plastic. I’m also an earth-abusing scumbag. The 3 bags of potato chips that I bought were made of plastic, and so was the bottle of juice. I could’ve made juice at home and fed my guests homemade hummus and carrots, but I didn’t. I did the easy thing. I’m a scoundrel. We all are, just some more than others.
I just want to do my part to spread the message that in our daily lives, we can do a lot to alter the life course of our planet. Imagine if someone walked into our homes and dumped trash on the floor. Imagine if the put their dirty boot on our sofa. Imagine if they went to shower and it lasted for 2 hours. You would be livid. I would be livid. We’d do something. We’d make them clean it up, probably with force if it came to that. We’d never let them shower at our house again. Probably wouldn’t let them into our house again.
You know what I’m getting at, Dear Reader. The earth is our home. I sigh as I’m saying this because I’m angry, but I’m also sad. I’m sad that we haven’t done better.
But I want to leave you with a bit of good news. Before I hit publish on this post, I decided to step away from it and run to that same store for a loaf of bread. The same cashier as last night was there. When I got to the register with my one loaf of bread, she said to me, “I know you don’t want a bag right? I remember your face. No bags for you.”
A sigh of relief. Maybe she won’t stop using plastic as much, but somewhere in her mind is the issue. I am somewhere in her brain speaking to her, and maybe with time that little whisper will get louder.
Could we all just raise our voices a little bit? Can we make some changes and tell people the reasons for those changes as we make them. Advertise it. Advocate for it. Encourage it. Our planet, our home, needs our voices to speak.
Here’s to our beautiful Mother Nature.