The weather has finally broken here in Tennessee. I'm sitting in my living room looking out the back door at a beautiful blue sky, a sight I feel like I haven't seen in months. Seemingly endless gray has stretched from horizon to horizon for weeks, and with it, we have had record rainfall and flooding. I have a morbid curiosity about flood waters. They fascinate me, so I've been paying close attention to the ditches and creeks, the roadside washes and the low-lying yards. And with that, I have found an unexpected heartache.
Trash--everywhere. Drink cups, plastic grocery bags, fast food containers, beer cans, random flotsam and jetsam of life, whole bags of garbage. The areas in front of homes seem to be mostly spared, but in the wooded and pasture areas, litter covers the sides of the road. You guys know how my mind loves to go on a tangent, so of course, I see that and I start thinking about the islands of trash in the ocean and the pictures of wildlife killed or otherwise permanently affected by something that provided a human with a few moments of convenience. I think about the beauty marred by thoughtlessness and what all of that means about humanity.
What it means about us is a whole blog post in and of itself, but that's a dark post and one I'd rather not do today when I am in a good mood and hopeful. Because I am a "fixer" at heart, I also think about why this is such a problem and, from that, what it would take to prevent more trash from ending up where it shouldn't be.
Historically, I think in grand gestures--huge sweeping movements to change the world. Unfortunately, that often makes me feel like everything is hopeless because, let's face it, huge change is hard and unlikely. As I have aged, however, I've found the value of small changes. They require little effort and often seem insignificant, but over time, they have an impact.
How many bottles, cans, and cups of beverage do you go through in a month's time? Seriously. Think about it? Let's just say that it's an average of one per day. I think for most people, it's likely more than that. What ONE CHANGE could you implement that would eliminate THIRTY plastic containers per month, all associated plastic (straws, lids, wrapping, connective rings), and all the fuel use associated with that?
You could carry a reusable cup.
That's it. Always have a cup with you and use it instead of the single use options. And immediately the world has less trash and less demand for it to be made.
Sure, that doesn't completely solve the problem, but maybe is sauves it a bit. Maybe it's a beginning. When others see you, maybe they'll be inspired to start that habit. And maybe this change in you will prompt more.
I'm glad I don't have children. I'm pretty sure I would be overwhelmed with guilt about the world they were being left with. As it is, I apologize to all the living things for what we are doing. I'm the crazy lady talking to the possums who are exploring the trash on the side of the road, warning them to be careful of getting stuck in a plastic bag.
So I carry my Yeti cup like a big metal woobie everywhere I go, and my snacks are often found in left over sour cream containers, because we have to start somewhere. I'd love to see pictures of changes you've made.
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Unless otherwise noted, all material--written, photographic, and artistic--is the original work of Estora Adams. All rights reserved.