I went shopping the other day & forgot my shopping bags and I almost did it. I almost asked for plastic. Not sure what was going on, but for a few moments I just felt…defeated. Or deflated. Or frustrated. Maybe all of these things, but whatever it was I felt like it didn’t matter anymore. The choice I usually made to bring my own shopping bags and to not use plastic seemed so irrelevant at that moment. Rather like, “who cares?” “no one notices anyway.”
What difference does my little choice make? I mean, if all the people who have gone through that same line that day used plastic and all the people behind me used plastic, then really? What difference was my 4-5 plastic bags going to make? I’ve been using my own bags since 2009 and almost everyone I know grabs plastic when they go to the store. So what kind of impact have I truly made?
As I stood there contemplating “paper or plastic”, I stopped and thought, “I’m not going to change whatever little bitty impact I’m making just because others don’t pay attention to the impact they are making”. I needed that. I needed to stop, reevaluate my motives and stand firm in my convictions, however small they may be. I also realized that I can’t judge someone’s choices if they are not educated about the impact their choices make.
So, in order to make a difference I’ll have to step out of my comfort zone. You see, it’s easy to tell my family not to use plastic. It’s easy to recycle at my home or office and maybe occasionally speak with a friend or neighbor about it. But, if I truly want to make a difference, I need to speak up, share what I learn about sustainability and walk the walk. I need to get off my soapbox (the biodegradable one, of course) and start telling the story about where those plastic bags end up, where they go when they leave our house/car/office.
We all know that habits can be changed. When we recognize what we are doing, we can make changes. There are times, such as just last week, that I forget to take bags or leave some in my car and there I am, running into the store for just one or two items (or 8-10!) without my bag! It’s at the point that I have a choice – Do I go without? Do I ask for paper (not much better but at least it’s biodegradable)? Do I just carry things in my arms? (yes, people that CAN be done!) I have to remind myself that I DO have choices and that my choice matters.
Employees checking you out are in such the habit of just slipping every single little item into a plastic bag that sometimes they even do it when my reusable bag is sitting right there in front of them…yeeesh! I’ve embarrassed my kids plenty of times asking a checker to take those items out of the plastic bag!
I’d love to hear your feedback as to what you choose to do when you go to the store. Do you keep reusable bags at home or in your car? What happens when you forget them? In what other areas are you environmentally conscious? Share your input & feedback in the comments below.
Any step we can take to be friendly to our One Planet is a step in the right direction.