Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cascading changes: small ways to help the environment

In the past couple of days, I've been spending a lot more time enjoying the quiet and bring more love and peace into my life. In that time, I started to realize how important it was to me to help the environment.

I moved from a tiny state where recycling is required by law to a much bigger state where it is the exception rather than the rule. At first, I felt guilty about not recycling but still didn't do anything about it. Then, I just stopped thinking about it.

Until this week. I started thinking about it, and realized how much I have not been living according to my values and conscience, so I took my glass and plastic bottles and put then in a paper grocery bag, with the intention of bringing them to the recycling plant when it was full.

Well, last night I was thinking I needed a new reusable water bottle (since I broke my other one), but I didn't feel like driving to the store just to get one. If I had not been thinking about the environment, I would just have grabbed a disposable plastic bottle to bring to work and that would be the end of it. I'd feel guilty, but I'd do it anyway because I wanted water.

Except that last night, it was different. I glanced down into my recycling bag and saw a 20 ounce glass bottle from a juice beverage that my husband bought last weekend. Suddenly, the creative frugality that comes best in the quiet clicked in. I don't need to drive to the store and spend money, or drive to the recycling center in town, or feel guilty about my water consumption. I pulled the bottle out, washed it carefully with soap and water, filled it with water from my filter and put it in the fridge. Wow! So simple a solution. It saved me time, saved me money, and saved on waste.

Just as I was finishing, my husband said we were going to go to our favorite coffee shop to meet some friends, an event I very much enjoy. Because I'd been thinking about reusing and reducing waste, I was immediately concerned about the disposable cups. So, I went to the coffee shop and asked for a regular coffee in a ceramic mug. Sure enough, they were glad to do it, and they only charged me for a small coffee. This saved money over my usual medium, saved the cup from being thrown away, and brought me much more joy because - let's be honest. It's more pleasant to drink from a big ceramic cup.

It gets even better. My friend who we were meeting heard me order my coffee in ceramic, so he did the same. He may never have thought of it if I hadn't mentioned it, I may never have thought of it if I hadn't been on that track already. So I saved not one, but two paper cups from going into the garbage.

And all because I started a recycling bag. Once again, doing something instead of nothing has unbelievable and far ranging results.


Fabulously Broke in the City said...

This is why my pink Starbucks cup goes with me wherever I go.

I use it to drink cold water out of, hot drinks, tea, and it keeps it either very cold or very hot, which is exactly what I need. Just a bit of soap and water cleans it out, and it saves me on having to use a styrofoam cup. I wish more people did the same thing :(

Starbucks also gives you 10 cents off each drink if you bring in your own personal cup.

I also do the Tupperware thing with my Starfrit containers. Those things do NOT spill ANYTHING.. I'm so impressed.