I confess! I’m guilty! I admit it! I do it every day. Pretty much every waking hour. I allow my children to do it. I watch my husband do it. I am worse than many (though, perhaps, better than some). I am so accustomed to doing it that I don’t even realize I’m doing it most of the time.
I’m a waster. A garbage-producer. A consumer of disposable stuff. A taker of more than I need.
I was clicking on random internet stuff while half watching the morning news and nursing my first cup of coffee when I came across the website www.50waystohelp.com. That sounded right up my alley. So I browsed through. Many of the 50 ways were pretty common. If you’ve been out of your cave in the past ten years you’ve heard that the “pigtail” lightbulbs save energy. If you haven’t been out of your cave in 10 years your carbon footprint is probably already pretty small so you don’t really need to worry about it!
But one idea really caught my eye. It said, “use one less paper napkin.”
Apparently, the average American uses 2,200 paper napkins per year, or about 6 per day. One less per person per day would mean approximately 313,000,000 napkins EACH DAY that don’t end up in the landfill. Just in the USA. Whoa. That’s a lot! And it’s not even taking into account the environmental impact of producing & marketing all those napkins. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone out for fast food with my kids, grabbed a handful of napkins, knowing that my little hippies would be head-to-toe in ketchup and pasteurized, processed cheese food. Turns out, they don’t spill a drop and I throw all those perfectly clean napkins in the trash. Just this morning there was a spill on the floor and I reached for a paper napkin to clean it up. As I type this my son’s nebulizer equipment is drying on a paper napkin on my kitchen counter.
Well! If I can help good ol’ mama Earth by using just ONE LESS napkin, what else could I use just ONE less of?
How about one less plastic water bottle each day. I know. Plastic water bottles are the devil’s work and all that. I get it. I do. But I’m a LAZY hippie. Remember? It’s so EASY to grab a bottle of water on my way out the door! It’s a bad habit that I will break someday. But not today. But maybe just ONE less? Sure. I can do that! JUST ONE is easy!
Anything else? Well…. I bet I could use one less gallon of gas each week. If I use one less gallon of gas do I get to spend my saved $3.89 on a fancy coffee? Mmmm. That’s good motivation right there!
Can I use one less piece of paper each day? Sure! I can’t imagine how often I’ve printed something I didn’t REALLY need, or used a fresh piece of paper to make a list or write a “note to self” instead of using a scrap.
I could probably eat one less pound of beef each month. It wouldn’t really be so hard to have a meatless meal once or twice a week.
I could use one less plastic baggie each day by putting my daughter’s snacks in re-usable containers.
Obviously, recycling helps with the issue of waste. But it doesn’t remove the core problem. We, so very often, take much more than we NEED. Then, when we can’t use it all we just toss it away. Conservation really starts with being conscious of what we are doing. Maybe, if we all stopped and asked ourselves, “Can I do with just ONE less of this or that?” the whole world would breathe a sigh of relief.
What can you live with just ONE less of this week?