[4th of July fireworks over Lancaster]
Plastic-Free Life Redux: A Story of Independence
A couple months ago I sent a letter to the four biggest local grocery stores in my area, espousing the benefits of removing single-use plastic packaging from their myriad array of fresh vegetables. I wasn’t asking them to literally change their whole operating strategy, but to just quit wrapping things that don’t need it in plastic, and to provide reusable bags for the veggies we may want to buy loose, but not too loose; we don’t want them rolling around in our carts and we don’t want to have to put them in paper and contribute to further deforestation of the planet since decimating old growth forests may be even worse than disposing of single-use plastics.
Before I tell you what happened, let me just say that I read a completely unnerving statistic the other day, that is, only two out of ten people consider themselves environmentalists – a mere 20%. Now maybe it’s me, but we’re in the midst of a sixth global extinction where dozens of species die off daily — up to 1,000 times the background rate as a result of human activity — and yet, only 20% of the population is tuned into that. Por que? Por qua? Say what?! Exsqueeze me?
Does that mean we’re going to blow up in a final brilliant conflagration of CO2 and methane igniting from the spark of some poor bastards e-cig? And if we’re trying to change the world, is 20% even enough to change anyone’s mind?
Actually, it’s quite possibly as Greg Braden points out in his book, The Isaiah Effect. We only need 1% of a given population to work toward an imagined end in order to change the dynamics in any given area. But, and it’s a big but, we’re going to need to need more than one percent if we are to not just curtail, but reverse the growing crisis that is climate change.
Anyway, back to the grocery store. Weeks went by and since no responses were forthcoming, I figured it was time for another round of letter writing, and then — a Christmas miracle — I got an email from the assistant manager at Wegmans (located in seven states and growing!), a lovely woman who was happy to report on all that Wegmans was doing in service to the environment.
— they got rid of plastic straws and just have paper straws now;
— they’ve reduced the amount of seafood arriving in foam containers;
— their uniform shirts are made partially from recycled plastic;
— they are “passionate” about sustainability;
— they have replaced their single-use plastic in NYC (which banned it) with reusable packaging or paper bags;
— they sponsor an event on earth day where you could trade your old single-use plastic bags in for a reusable one; and
— at the front door of every store they have recycling bins for plastic bags, cellphones and batteries.
Pretty impressive, huh? There were other things Wegmans was doing, but I couldn’t write them all down fast enough so this is just a partial list. Anywho — it appears that Wegman’s is on it and getting better everyday so maybe this cultural reconstruction project will be an easier lift then I thought.
What can you do to be cool like Wegmans? We can all start with a look at our daily consumption of goods and services. By taking a waste-light approach to life we can have an impact on lessening our waste stream, and ultimately, the effects of climate change. Reducing at the source by looking at how we eat, what we shop for, and where we live, to name a few, will give us the freedom of sustainability, allowing us to be truly independent from the tyranny of a waste-filled life.
pam lazos 7.21.19