October 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized
A few weeks ago at Tesco (our grocery store), I was waiting in the self-checkout line after training. I recognized American accents, and then watched as a couple my age scanned the store for bags and loudly ask where they were. Where plastic bags normally are in the US, in Ireland there is an empty stand designed to hold the bags YOU BRING with you. I started laughing and offered the friendly advice that in Ireland, you have to bring your own. The memory of Shelby and I in the same situation a few weeks earlier was all too familiar.
Over an amazing summer in 2011, I was an intern for Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. During my work there, my outlook on the environment changed. Hundreds of cigarette butts, balloons, milk cartons, etc. appear all over beaches and for miles off the coast. Seeing the effects of littering on the environment I worked in every day helped me appreciate just how significant a role that I, and my fellow human beings (yes, you), play in changing the impact we have on the environment. I am still guilty, however, of choosing convenience over sustainable practices. Then I moved to Ireland.
I understand that in the US we are obsessed with maintaining the freedom to make our own decisions, but when we continually make decisions that are bad not only for ourselves but for everyone else, should this change?
The first time Shelby and I went grocery shopping, we bought two, reusable plastic bags for about .45 cents each. The next time we went to the shop, we again had to buy our own bags. Mental note: seriously, start bringing your own bags. Now we carry bags with us everywhere without thinking about it. I challenge you to do the same. Even now when I am given a choice, I say no to bags. And although we resisted at first, being forced to change to sustainable practices has opened our eyes that this sustainable way of living is convenient, too. You can be sure that when we get back to the US, we will bring our own bags when we go grocery shopping (most stores already subsidize you at home anyways!).
Moral of the story: Some times we think we are right to do something when we don’t realise the effect it has on others and a small change if everyone does it can make a big difference. So just bring your own bags to the store, and don’t release balloons—although meaningful, they don’t make it to Ballonia, they end up killing animals.
Oh and watch this video, Plastic State of Mind, it is