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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being Mindful and Less Plastic-Filled

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to give it a name having to do with mindfulness.  I had finally gotten to a point where I realized that so many things in life are better when we are mindful, when we take the time to be aware. 

From Merriam-Webster, here are some synonyms and antonyms for 'mindful':
 
It certainly seems better to be mindful than the opposite, right?
 
And while I realize that we all need to get to this place in our own space and time, it doesn't leave me any less impatient about wanting to get to a world that is more sustainable, peaceful, mindful....
 
Sometimes in my corner of the world, it seems like we need a whole lot more mindfulness.  School started last week and we've gotten the usual fundraising catalogs sent home.  And a new one...if we can give the magazine company 7 slips with names and addresses of friends and family, we'll be able to take home a penguin.  For 10 slips, we get a plastic bracelet that doubles as an eraser.  And then there's the reward brochure.  If we sell 2 magazines, we get a plastic bottle filled with invisible ink...???  Is this for real?!?  For 4 magazines, we get a flying plastic UFO with lights that will, no doubt, be broken within the first week of flying.  8 magazines earns you plastic light-up flashing shutter shades.  I'll spare you the rest....
 
 I can't tell you the flurry of activity over the penguins and bracelets.  Do we really believe that all this cheap plastic junk is going to make us happier in some way?  How can we still be so 'oblivious'?

Three years ago, I asked our principal if I could start a TerraCycle program at our school.  I could write volumes of blog entries on this one program alone (I'll try to get there)...it has had its share of ups and downs, but in the end, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  It has been so educational.  It is changing minds and changing lives, albeit more slowly than I'd like, but I still think it's a positive step...a starting point...something to make people think about what they are consuming and what they are throwing away.  I've had students ask me, when we were collecting cups for recycling at an event, why aren't we collecting the plasticware, too?  Good question, leading to an even better question...why don't we replace disposables with reusables?
 
There are lots of different opinions about TerraCycle, as there are about recycling, but one thing I have found is that it is a company full of very caring people, many of whom I've had the pleasure to meet or talk with, and they have a CEO, Tom Szaky, who is much more accessible than many CEOs....I have written to him on at least 3 occasions and gotten a personal, meaningful, timely response each time.  They know, as well as we do, that this isn't the ultimate, sustainable answer, but it is a step in the right direction until we get there.

Last year, we kept over 50,000 juice pouches out of the landfills along with tens of thousands of other plastic packaging that is not typically recycled.  Again, the dual-edged sword...am I happy that we saved the pouches from the landfill?  Yes!  Would I rather we not have juice pouches in the first place?  YES!!!  So even though I love our program, I hope we save less juice pouches this year and have more students using reusable bottles.

And I also hope we soon realize that plastic penguins and UFO's don't make our world a better place.

1 comment:

  1. Kate,
    With every blog you write, I become more aware....more mindful of our environment and think of more ways that I can live a sustainable life. Your words are very powerful and by doing what you are doing you are slowly teaching people and little by little your words will be imprinted in their minds until they too are living a sustainable life. You are "daring greatly" every day....never stop!

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