Enemy #1 in my personal battle to be eco is my own forgetfulness. I leave the house without the reusable grocery bag. I get to my local fair trade coffee shop only to realize I left my reusable cup at home. It starts to rain, and without an umbrella, I'm tempted to buy one of the flimsy one-time use ones from a street vendor.
We Live in a Disposable Culture
Unfortunately, our society is set up to make forgetting a problem easily solved. We live in a disposable culture, one that is built on convenience. You don't have to bring your own bag, because the bag is there. You don't have to tote your own cup or umbrella, because they are easily within reach.
But it's these disposable items that are filling our landfills. According to the World Watch Institute, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags a year, and only .6 percent of plastic bags are recycled.
This Waste Has a Global Impact
Each one of these bags and each one of these plastic, Styrofoam, or paper coffee cups, requires natural resources such as crude oil and natural gas for production, has a hefty transport footprint, and can cause major damage to natural habitats (sea turtles and birds eating plastic bags for example). Europe's Royal Society of Chemistry says when six tonnes of paper cups biodegrade anaerobically they produce 2370 kg methane and 3260 kg carbon dioxide -- two major global warming culprits.
It's habit that is the real problem: I know what I need to do, but I forget! I've been trying out ways to fix this, and maybe the best solution is a "go-bag," something that I can prop by the door, and always grab as I head out. It holds a compact, lightweight disposable bag, my reusable cup, and my umbrella.
Do you have a solution for forgetfulness? Comment below!
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Photo: Junshi Nakamichi/Getty Images.