A few of my friends and co-workers have been having a bit of fun at my earnest attempts at saving the planet. I’ve stopped using straws, for instance, because I’ve discovered for some odd logistical reason that I can’t quite explain, straws are ending up in our oceans.
I’ve tried to convince my family (or anyone else close to me) to try to give them up too but because my explanation for doing so is a bit awkward and clumsy sounding, I haven’t had much success. Lately, I’ve had to adjusted my argument as well as my thought process. Now, I just mention that I’ve recently discovered a completely new phenomena: Drinks taste better without a straw.
The entire straw movement is, I’m most sure, a valid, helpful thing. And I’m an avid if not enthusiastic follower too. I’m afraid, however that I haven’t been the best spokesperson for it and to be frank: I may have even hindered the wise-use movement in general.
I’ve also adopted those reusable grocery bags. (I grew increasingly skeptical that single-use plastic bags are actually getting recycled.) It took me awhile though to develop a proper habit for this because I would invariably forget them. After so many discouraging times I finally created a rule: If I forgot, I would pay for another set of bags right then and there at the checkout.
So much to my delight, I’ve learned I’m quite trainable. Now, at all times of day or night, there’s at least a pair of reusable bags at the ready in any gas guzzling car (or truck) I drive. I’m a diehard bagman now and strangely I’ve also noticed I’m still very much in the minority. I’m secretly hopeful the trend will catch on.
I suppose in a way, if those millions and millions of plastic bags also make it inadvertently to the open ocean I can rest easy because they won’t be mine. A stray, plastic-coated two-handled fabric bag that says “Portland” maybe. But the other ones no…not mine.
I have, of course, undertaken other things to save the planet too. I’ve bought now, seven plastic reusable Starbucks cups. (Again, training.) When Starbucks introduced their marketing campaign of “One cup. Many sips.” they weren’t considering my learning curve. For now though the cups, both hot and cold options, sit at the ready in any car within sightline of the grocery bags.
I still hang our clothes outside to dry as well. (I’ve tried a few different techniques to alleviate the complaints I’ve received about our towels being too scratchy but no real success yet.) I’ll even stretch my drying season well into the winter. (Think not sun dried but wind dried.) Eventually however, I’ll have to resort to the temptations of the dryer from time to time.
Which brings me acutely to my dilemma: My attempts at saving the earth feel pretty lame and feeble… and even a bit discouraging. So I didn’t use a straw. (It’s just one in millions I’m sure.) Someone asked me about my plastic cup and the resources it took to make that versus the number of times the cup would last against the equivalent paper option. (It’s a lot of math.) I also drive gas guzzling, exhaust producing delivery trucks sometimes. I like to take long, hot showers after a day outside too. I also confess: I use a blower in our nursery.
Yet, I still believe. I know in the garden I don’t have to be perfect to be still considered a gardener. Perhaps, doing a little conservation is still better than doing nothing at all? (Besides, aren’t these individual efforts supposed to be multiplied over many believers?)
In my darkest, most discouraging moments I have to step back from the Earthfront and realize I’m just a beginner.
So climate change is coming. I want so much to pin my hopes on the efforts of smart laws and intelligent, rational thinking. But alas, like gardening, sometimes it takes a season or two with just the right conditions for seeds to germinate into a promising crop.
For now though I’ll continue to try to do my part. I’ve also added quite lately, an earnest attempt at gardening inside. Yes, it helps a bit to purify the inside air. Yes, studies show that having abundant houseplants increases concentration and productivity. Yes, it reduces stress and improves moods. And still yet in a small, tiny, almost inconsequential way it also helps mother earth.
Someway, somehow its bound to make a difference.
Bio: Jonn Karsseboom recycles, reuses and replants in Tualatin. You may email him garden questions to [email protected]