Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breaking Bad Habits

Rise Above Plastics. A simple concept, right? All one has to do is stop using single use plastic bottles and start using reusable shopping bags at grocery and retail stores. Well at least that's the start. Wow, now that is a perfect example of easier said than done!

To be perfectly honest, I think breaking my smoking habit was a hell of a lot easier than weening myself off of single use plastic containers. Quitting smoking was easy. I started to take Zyban, picked a quit date and changed nothing. I kept smoking as I normally did and on the day that I decided to quit, I just stopped buying and smoking cigarettes. Done.

Yet for the past year or so I have really been trying to cut myself off of these stupid shopping bags and plastic bottles. I have a huge selection of reusable shopping bags in my front hallway in my house and a few in my truck yet still I forget them 60% of the time at those locations. The result, My grocery bill grows by a few dollars every time and I gain one more green bag to be left behind the next time I leave the house.

On the plastic bottle front I am a little more successful and that may be because that there is a water mill a 1/2 block from where I work and it takes no time to go down there and refill my jug every day. Of course it also gives me an excuse to take a long break from what I am doing. At home, we use a Brita filtration system and it is really no longer an issue especially since we rarely drink soft drinks anymore.

But those damned bags!! They are everywhere! It's not enough to remember to bring them with me to the grocery store or a retail store, that is only a fraction of the places that use them. I walk into the hardware store, there they are. I walk into the industrial marine supply company, here you go. I walk into a restaurant to pick up carry out, you guessed it, there they are again. I am not surprised at all that 14,000,000,000 bags are used in the US alone each year. They are constantly being offered to you and are utterly inescapable.

So what is the solution? For me personally, I have started to leave my bags in a bucket on the passenger side floorboard of my truck so I see them every time I climb in or get out and it seems to have helped out. I think I forget them only 20% of the time now.

What about everyone else and you? I don't know if this is even a problem for those who read this blog. I am assuming that many who come here have made a conscious decision to stop using the single use bags and are looking for more stats and numbers to be able to educate others with. That is why I initially started to subscribe to it. And that is where I think lies the key; not to force it upon others but to subtly educate one or two people at a time and let them make the decision on their own.

Forcing others to conform by implementing penalties or bans, in my opinion, is counterproductive. The hair on the back of my neck stands straight up and my face turns red when someone tries to force me to do something I don't understand, or want to do in the first place, and I know that I am not alone. I did not quit smoking because someone made me do it although many have tried. I did it because I saw my Father die of Lung Cancer. BIG WAKE UP CALL!! The man that raised me, was the big bad FBI agent, was in perfect health and my excuse to not face the dangers of smoking died in a matter of months right in front of me. At that moment I was very educated and very motivated.

We need to take all the videos, pictures and statistics that we see and ingest and keep them in the back of our head and when temptation strikes us or when an opportunity to politely influence another arises, we are armed with the right tools to help them and ourselves break our plastics habit.

In order to rise above plastics, we need to help everyone rise above ignorance as well!