Let’s Indulge in Some Green Shaming, Shall We?

Photo by CGIOS

No, this is not a post about leprechauns. Instead, I’m going to call myself (and you) out on a few things while also sounding like a tree-hugging hippie. Here I go.

It’s spring. What a great time to go a little greener. Come on, all of the plants are doing it. We all know we pollute. Whether you want to delve into the science of global warming or not, whether you need stats or not, if you think about your everyday actions, there is no doubt about it: you pollute our beautiful planet. This gigantic, scary, marvelous gift to us.

Every winter, Joe and I take a trip somewhere warm and Spanish-speaking. This trip serves several purposes: practicing Spanish, making new friends, seeing new places, reflecting on what is and isn’t working for us in our normal day-to-day, and remembering to appreciate our time and what we do have.

One of those things is our planet.

On our last two trips to beautiful places, the lack of infrastructure raised the visibility of our waste, our collective human waste. It occurred to me that in the U.S. we are better able to hide our trash, but that doesn’t mean that trash just disappears. With the veil of infrastructure, it is easy to ignore the small things we could be doing to lessen the impact of our waste. But now that the waste is piling up and melding with our environment, it will be harder to ignore. Did you hear the latest about the plastiglomerates in Hawaii?

Here are some tasks I invite you to consider, oh, after I get done with green-shaming myself.

It’s a mighty green shame that I often take home food from dinners and lunches wrapped in plastic containers and bags and often accompanied by plastic-wrapped plastic utensils. I’ve also used body and face wash with microbeads. I’m terrible with the coffee cups, buy coffee twice a day in disposable cups. At work, I opt for plastic utensils for my in-house lunch meals and paper cups for water. I shave with disposable razors. Since I eat mostly whole foods (a step in the right direction), I often have lots of food scrap wastes that I throw directly in the trashcan (oh but four steps back). Sometimes I use more paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins than I actually need, and I leave the water running when I brush my teeth. I’m not perfect, but I have already started to do better.

Here are some things you and I can do and consider:

1. Choose bathing products that do not contain microbeads. If you aren’t sure which microbeads are safe for the environment, opt to use a washcloth for exfoliation instead.

2. Say no to that extra bag when you take food out. Even better? Bring your own take-out container. You might get a strange look, but no one will say no to you using it.

3. Keep a set of non disposable dishware and utensils and cups at work, so you don’t result to plastic.

4. Consider using cloth napkins and cloth towels, instead of paper. It isn’t too hard to add these to your laundry.

5. Carry bags in the trunk of your car for groceries and keep a foldable bag with you in your purse for impulsive or last-minute shopping.

6. DON’T FLUSH YOUR WET WIPES OF ANY TYPE DOWN THE TOILET!

7. Consider cooking whole foods to lessen the packaging you are picking up at the grocery store (and because it’s healthier).

8. Carry a water bottle and a coffee mug with you if you drink water and coffee often.

9. Be conscientious when using paper products and running water. Ask, “Do I need all this?” If not, then don’t use it.

10. Washington, DC has lots of compost options that aren’t too expensive. If you don’t have a yard to do personal composting in, consider a composting company. Ex: Compost Cab and Fat Worm Compost

Please feel free to add to the list below the post!

If you wanna go green crazy, I also recommend reading Living Green by Greg Horn. I know we all have reasons (family, too busy with work, not convenient, etc) for not taking extra steps, but the truth is these aren’t extra steps, just different steps. And with practice, they become habit.