December 10, 2020 – Trying to save the world (PART FOUR)

Welcome back! Good to see you again! Hey, there’s something I have to share real quick before I get today’s blog underway. This afternoon, when I was eating my lunch while seated at the kitchen table, I looked out the glass slider that leads to our backyard and guess what I saw clinging to the screen? Yep, a fly. I think it was on guard duty, waiting for an opportunity to fly in when I had the door ajar. But fortunately I noticed it before I tossed out a handful of seed to the birds, so I was able to subvert its evil plot. Not this time, Mr. Fly! I’m going to enjoy my movie tonight, thank you very much! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have to read part three, and then maybe it’ll make sense. Anyway, I think today I’m going to exclusively address one of the things that I do on a daily basis that I think all of us are capable of doing with very little effort, reduce/reuse/recycle. It’s a mouthful! As much as I want to talk about all of the other things that matter, I think if you had to choose one thing, this would probably be the one I’d suggest.

Two things that you can stop using or purchasing altogether that will make an enormous impact on our beautiful earth are plastic bags and single-use plastic bottles. Having said that, I realize right now with the Pandemic, there isn’t necessarily an option to use anything other than plastic bags (furnished by the grocer or store) when you go shopping. Currently, most stores won’t let you use your own bags because of concerns about the virus. However, once life returns to ‘normal’ and you can start using your own bags, if you don’t have some already, I’d highly recommend you purchase a few cloth ones for the future. And the other huge offender? Single-use plastic bottles. Ack!! Those blasted things are wreaking havoc with the planet. I know they’re convenient and sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where the drinking water is not drinkable, so you don’t necessarily have a choice. But if where you live has clean drinking water, if you take the time to purchase a reusable (BPA-free) bottle, you can just fill it with tap water or filtered water and use that in lieu of bottled water. The earth will thank you and I will, too.

Another thing I’m a big stickler about is recycling. If you could recycle something, why wouldn’t you? Anytime you can keep something out of the landfill, that’s a wonderful thing! You know all of that junk mail that seems to show up in your mailbox on a daily basis? Recycle it! Aside from junk mail, there are so many paper products that can be recycled rather than going in the landfill. There are newspapers, cereal boxes, magazines, cardboard boxes and phone books, to name a few. And after Christmas has long passed, most of those cards you received (if you can part with them) are recyclable, too. Do you buy canned items? I do. I buy everything from canned soup to canned fruit and vegetables to canned meat (tuna). Every bit of it can be recycled. You just have to make sure you rinse the cans out well before you place them in your recycle bin. There’s also glass. And surprisingly enough, quite a few grocery items are available in glass containers, spaghetti sauce, salsa, Greek olives, pickles, salad dressing, jam and even artichokes are a few examples. Don’t throw them in the garbage, please!

And what does that leave us with? The one thing that I am not a big fan of, p-l-a-s-t-i-c. What’s with all the $%#&)@!! plastic anyway? A few years back, most laundry detergent was available in reinforced (paper) boxes. Now, good luck finding any that’s not in a plastic jug! I am a dyed-in-the-wool user of Tide. And I refuse to buy it in liquid form in a jug. And do you know how hard it is to find Tide powder? It’s nearly extinct! I’ve been really tempted to write to Procter and Gamble and give them a piece of my mind. I know it’s all about the bottom line (profits), but can’t they just do something once because it’s the right thing to do? And if they stopped using 1,4-Dioxane, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings either. Look, I know plastic is here to stay, but there’s got to be a better way to go about it. Is it necessary to use 1/2 pound of plastic packaging for one ink toner cartridge? I don’t think so. And would it be that hard to make the ‘recycle’ symbol just a tad larger for us folks with not-so-great vision? I don’t imagine it would be.

The thing about plastic that is so infuriating is that once it’s made, we’re stuck with it. It can take up to 1,000 years (or longer) for plastic to biodegrade. And less than ten percent of it is actually recycled, the rest ends up getting tossed out and usually ends up in our oceans. In 2015, there was an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean. I don’t even want to think about how much there is in the ocean at present or how many marine animals die or suffer as a result because I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight if I do. Let’s just hope we can put our brains together and find a better way. There are a lot of smart people in this world. I have hope that someday, they’ll be able to figure out how to get plastic to biodegrade much quicker and not have such a crappy environmental impact. Either that, or find an even better alternative to plastic. Between now and then, I’m going to continue to separate it out from the trash and put it into the recycle bin. It’s still a better alternative than putting it directly into the landfill.

I don’t know about you, but that whole soapbox I was just on left a really bad taste in my mouth! Yuck! Sorry about that. You just got a little ‘sample’ of what my husband has to deal with, day in and day out. I think I’ve made you suffer long enough going on and on about plastic and recycling. How about we move this in a more positive direction? Sounds good to me! Where I’m headed now is sort-of related to the landfill, but has more to do with alternatives to throwing things away. We humans throw so much stuff in the garbage. And I’m not talking about dried out potato peels and wedges of parmesan cheese that were once beige in color, but are now green. I’m talking about clothing and furniture and phones and toys. When I walk my dog, it’s really hard sometimes to walk by and not pull stuff out of people’s garbage. No, I don’t personally want it, but a lot of organizations could really benefit from that stuff. There are thrift stores and shelters and multitudes of organizations that would love to get their hands on these items we call ‘trash’. Have a ratty old blanket? One of the rescue animals from the Humane Society would absolutely love it! How about an old dresser and a night stand? Take your pick, virtually any thrift store or women’s shelter. What about that medicine cabinet and overhead vanity light that you just pulled out of your bathroom? I bet Habitat for Humanity would love to take it off your hands!

There are so many things each of us can do to make a difference! Even if it’s just a matter of converting your old socks into dust rags (or even your old ‘shorts’ for that matter). Alright, now I have to tell a story. It’s a quick one, I promise! Several years ago, when motorcycles were all the rage, my husband would often have friends over and they would hang out in the garage and drink beer and ‘talk shop’ while he’d work on rebuilding an engine or a transmission or a leaky oil tank. One of his friends that had no shortage of testosterone was over one day and needed a rag to clean off his hands after he’d gotten some oil or grease on them. He asked my husband if he had any rags and my husband pointed over to a box. Mr. Testosterone reached into the box and grabbed one of the ‘rags’ and started to meticulously wipe off his hands. However, it wasn’t long before he noticed the elastic waistband and unique ‘shape’ of the rag and realized it was one of my husband’s old boxer shorts. “Are these your old ‘shorts’?!” he asked my husband in disgust as he angrily flung them back into the box. “Oops. Yep!” my husband replied with a sheepish grin.

I love that story! It never fails to make me laugh. I wish you could have seen the look on that guy’s face! You feel bad for him? Don’t! He was kind of a jerk. I know it’s not very nice to say that, but he was. If you ever met him, you’d probably agree. Anyway, I just looked at the time and it’s well after midnight and I’d still like to spend a little more time on this topic, so I’m afraid there’s at least going to be a part five and possibly a part six. A part seven? I guess you and I will both know in about 3 days. Alright, I’ll leave you with that thought and hopefully I didn’t scare you away and you’ll return again tomorrow. Much love and peace to you, my friend!

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