When I was kid, just about every adult in my life told me that actions have consequences. Sometimes these consequences are good, and sometimes they are bad. For example, if I practiced hard for my swim meet, I usually improved my times. If I didn’t go to practice, and didn’t put in the work, I usually embarrassed myself. Sometimes, my actions and their consequences affected more than just me. For example: The teacher puts us into groups and assigns a paper. If I fail to do my part, not only do MY grades suffer, but so do the grades of all of the other members of my group.
How does this apply to recycling and living sustainably? Let’s say that I choose to throw my trash into my recycling bin. I know it doesn’t go in there, but it’s really not hurting anyone, so……… Except, it is. My trash then contaminates the entire load. So now the whole load goes to the landfill. I not only failed to recycle my items, but I also prevented someone else from doing so, and the landfill got that much fuller.
Our Actions Have Consequences!
Now, just like negative actions can have negative consequences, positive ones can have good ones! So let’s say that we are at the grocery store, and we need to purchase toilet paper. We stroll down the aisle and see a pack of our favorite brand, but instead of being packaged in plastic film as normal, it is packaged in paper wrappings. Knowing that plastic film is very hard to recycle, and paper is readily recyclable or compostable, we get excited. Then we notice that the wrapper says it is also made from recycled materials. That’s a win/win! We buy the package wrapped in paper instead of plastic. And now there is less need for plastic film and less to dispose of!
But with all the toilet paper purchased in the U.S., did it really make a difference? Yes, it does! Each time someone makes the choice to buy the paper wrapped one versus the plastic one, it sends a message to the manufacture that we will spend our money on packaging that is sustainable. Each time we refuse to buy single use plastics, we prevent it from entering the waste stream.
So Yes, Our Choices Matter!
Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a good choice. A lot of the things we buy are packaged in single use plastic. But if you have a choice between a plastic bag and a reusable plastic container, chose the reusable container. If you have a choice between containers made from new materials, or ones made from recycled materials, chose the one made from recycled materials. Change sometimes happens slowly, but if we make one good choice at a time, together, we can make a difference!