Earth Day Lesson: Reduce and Refuse

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Overall, the #1 lesson we can learn on Earth Day or any other day is to Reduce. My personal goal is to continually look for ways I can reduce my overall consumption of things. Along with reduce, goes Refuse. Refuse to acquire the things that I don’t need. This practice requires both creativity and inner contentment. Contentment is essential because it is the opposite of the marketing messages we are receiving all day long. It is, in essence, to trust that what I have been given is sufficient. To not continually crave more. To not find my satisfaction in things.

A very deep way of saying “bring your own bags to the store”. Because you don’t need 10 more plastic bags. You can refuse those bags. It will reduce the likelihood that the bags will end up blowing down the street somewhere, getting washed down a storm drain, and strangling some unsuspecting woodland animal. Or, at the very least, going to a landfill and never, ever biodegrading.

But let me be honest for a minute and make a confession. I am not good at refusing those little tiny produce bags in the produce section. You know the ones?

two pears, one in a plastic bag
photo by It’sGreg

It’s not that I want those bags. I hate them! But when I made my own produce bag out of an old t-shirt and tried to bring it to the store with me, the cashiers freaked out. FREAKED OUT. It was just like when I first started bringing my own reusable grocery bags, back before it was “cool”. The cashiers and baggers would freak out, stutter, get all clumsy, and hold up the whole line because they could not figure out what to do with the bags. Which is also why I still automatically start to bag my own groceries sometimes — I forget that after all those years of having to fill my own reusable grocery bags, cashiers and baggers are starting to realize how to do it themselves. Unfortunately, it’s back to square one with those produce bags.

Recently, I’ve come up with a temporary solution that works to reduce my usage of the bags when I can’t refuse them.

Ready? Here it is: I get the sturdiest produce bags that I can, locally at Natural Grocer, and I reuse them. Yep, reduce the usage of new bags by reusing old bags, over and over. I win at the checkout because they are still the plastic produce bags that the cashier and bagger are expecting, but I didn’t take any new produce bags from the store. Hooray!

There you have it, my Earth Day Tip for 2013. Have a great day!

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