As Earth Day approached this April (and as I tried to sort through all of the various promos and messaging), I began to reflect about environmental activism – on scales both large and small.
As someone who considers herself concerned with the environment generally, I continually strive to contribute to the betterment of our Earth – whether reducing waste, preserving resources, or involvement on more of a policy level. Also, as a nutritionist involved in food system work in different ways throughout my career and in school, I receive tons of emails and and literature about environmental issues and taking action in various ways.
Over time, it seems as though I’ve gone through phases with what I pursue and make an enduring habit. For example, while in school, I barely purchased bottled water. I refilled my large water bottle religiously, toting it with me wherever I went. As I now travel by plane more frequently (another environmental issue!?!), a large water bottle presents challenges as far as adding bulk to baggage in a weird shape, finding a water source for refill (dirty bathrooms don’t cut it) is difficult to clean on the road, and for a klutz like me, securing the cap tightly enough to ensure it doesn’t spill in my bag! So I confess, I purchase more plastic water bottles at this current point in my life.
As I wallowed in my guilt over this, I comforted myself with the knowledge that I now recycle all of my batteries. It is important to keep batteries out of landfills to prevent leakage of heavy metals and thus soil and water pollution. Also, if batteries are incinerated with household waste, the heavy metals in them may cause air pollution.
And then I thought: Why/How do I recycle all of my batteries now?
Answer: Because my apartment building partnered with a battery recycling organization and there is a battery receptacle in my basement laundry room!
Interpretation: I am aware that this recycling opportunity exists and it is VERY easy to do.
Moment of clarity – ease is key. While efforts must certainly still be made despite levels of ease, we must do more as a society to integrate systems so that actions to preserve our Earth and protect our resources are a part of the norm or at the very least, a simple and easy choice.
Many organizations today operate on that very principle and are changing practices to create new operational standards. (FISD environmental plug – check out the article from last semester that was featured in Food Management!)
Call to action for Earth Day: Pick one small/easy thing to do and make it a part of your life – whether taking shorter showers, turning off your computer when not in use, shopping once per week during peak season at a nearby farmer’s market, or recycling your old cell phones the next time you visit the store.
A little extra thinking or planning goes a long way. I know I’ll be incorporating more of these practices into my own life…with my main priority being to return to my old non-plastic water bottle ways.