Today I am writing from Portugal, my first day of the 9 days I will be here with a group of women from the UK who are all part of the Fiena Members Club. I recently was asked by Jae Ruax, founder of The Fiena Group, to be one of the founding members of the New York Chapter. Jae created the private members club for contemporary female pioneers to inspire Magic, Adventure and Soul globally. How could I resist being a part of this opportunity? And this trip I’m on? I wasn’t even invited. Jae mentioned it to me and immediately I said, “I’m coming!”
I arrived the day before the retreat began so I needed to find one night’s accommodation near the airport on Faro Island. As I do with many of my trips, I chose an Airbnb near the beach. The first thing I noticed was how clean this beach is. There were plenty of recycling and trash receptacles. I saw women who work at a local restaurant sweeping the sand off of the boardwalk that the wind had blown there. It was with pride that they were doing this work, not the drudergy of having to do a job.
The hardest part about writing the Consciously Creating Clear Space book is that I haven’t figured out all of the solutions for us to live in a world without plastic. I understand it’s not my job to solve the plastic problem, but my mind naturally wants an answer. I have become completely overwhelmed by the idea of all of the plastic out there. It feels insurmountable.
Like when I am on the plane and I notice all of the headphones they are handing out in little plastic bags. Sure, they seem to collect them again, but when I start calculating all of the people on the flight and then start thinking about how many flights there are every day or every year, it’s a huge amount of waste. Of course there are are all of the plastic cups for drinking and the plastic wrapped snacks.
What I’ve realized is that even though I can’t stop using all plastic, I’ve create an awareness around it so when someone hands me a shopping bag, I can politely say no thank you. I was in Target the day I was leaving to get a few last minute items for my trip and I opted to scan my items myself instead of waiting for a cashier. As we all can be at times, I was on autopilot as I was doing the self checkout. I’m so grateful that the register display asked me how many bags I brought. I had already started to fill a plastic bag and then removed them and put my items straight in my backpack. The convenience of the bags being right in front of me had me operating without thinking. I’ve already quit my drinking straw habit and now I’m focused on a replacement for my guilty pleasure, those handy ziplock bags.
Once we have awareness around the problem, we can start noticing our unhealthy habits and create new ones. This doesn’t mean that you beat yourself up for using a plastic bag, but don’t be so quick to throw them out. Definitely give it a second use and if your supermarket takes bags for recycling, make a new habit of bringing your collection of bags back to the store once a month.
There is a lot of great news out there where single use plastic items are being banned in other countries, which gives me hope that the US will follow suit sooner rather than later. I feel that ultimately this will become a problem of the past, but in the meantime, you don’t have to wait for laws to be changed. By simply paying attention to the present moment and seeing your options: to decline plasticware with your take out food, bringing bags when you shop, or like me, just living without needing a straw everyday.
Please tell me, what is one category of plastic you can give up to help the environment?