Many of us have grown up with the environmental mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” being drilled into our heads. It has always surprised me, however, all the focus of the media is on the last item to be mentioned. We all strive to recycle more, we gain feelings of vague moral superiority when we buy products with “made from recycled material” emblazoned on the side… often smothering the childish glee/revulsion when our brain begins to question what exactly is recycled in our toilet paper. How much, how often, and how loudly can we shout we’re doing our part…. Cause WE recycle! But while it is important to take the last step, it IS the last option given. Perhaps we should take a look at using the first and second step as well.
Recycling is great, but it does take energy, effort, and time. Add in the fact that no matter what, some of the item being recycled gets wasted – we haven’t perfected the process yet – and I think the most logical step…. Great. I’m channeling Mr. Spock. Fascinating. Anyway, the first big step would be to reduce our use of the materials that will need the recycling in the first place, right? So one way to keep myself from another embarrassing moment of being buried in a cascade of plastic bags would be to not bring the dratted things home in the first place!
Reducing our use of plastic bags takes a few moments of thought at the beginning of the day, but other than that it can become second nature. There are thousands of options out there, from the oh so trendy (and more than a little absurd) “I’m not a plastic bag” totes http://coquette.blogs.com/coquette/2007/04/im_not_a_plasti_1.html that are popping up in the big cities everywhere – for anywhere from $15 to $110, to a simple handmade jobbie that takes only a half hour or to make it yourself. http://www.make-it-easy.com/opentot2.html Don’t feel like spending the green or making like Martha Stewart? Just take the time to check what you already have. Old beach totes, coolers, even a cast off school backpack can be pressed into service. Several discount grocery stores already have a policy of allowing people to either purchase the store’s brown paper bags, bring their own, or use the boxes found in the stores.
Once you have found your new carryon, either keep them in a box by the door – ready to grab on the morning sprint out the door – or do what I plan on doing, keep them in the car ready to roll with you. Of course, if you’re memory challenged as I am – I blame the years of bleach when I was dying my hair purple, either that or all the time I spent at Ren Faires working in a corset that constricted critical blood flow to the brain….- having them in the car isn’t always enough. They might be in the backseat, but if I forget they are back there, all I’m achieving is giving them a ride. I hanging from my mirror a small sign, just large enough to catch my attention when I exit the car which reads “save a plastic tree, grab a bag”.
May the Tribble hunt continue!