A friend recently reported to me that she was taken to task by a green-leaning colleague for selecting a juice box to drink at a networking function. Juice boxes, the eco-narc proclaimed, were NOT recyclable in their municipality. My friend sheepishly sucked on her tiny plastic straw, convinced that all her attempts to live green — riding her bicycle to work, growing her own organic produce — were wiped out by this one transgression.
I know how my friend feels. Thanks to Al Gore and a few others bringing news of the planet’s peril to the masses, the noise around eco-living has become a cacophony.
I well recall the day I was lambasting my three children — aged 3, 5 and 8 at the time — because I had found a #2 plastic bottle (high-density polyethylene, an easily recycled plastic in our area) in the garbage bin.
“This!” I held up the offending item to my wide-eyed children, “Is! Recyclable! It! Does! Not! Belong! In! The! Garbage!” My eldest eyed the door, no doubt calculating her chances of escape. My husband walked into this bizarre scene and, after ushering my children out and assuring them that he would talk Mommy in off the ledge, sat me down and suggested that not only had I lost my perspective — I was in danger of losing my mind.
He was absolutely right. For someone like me who is forever banging the drum of personal responsibility and individual power, that’s tough to acknowledge. It’s so easy to become daunted by the task before us. So easy to think that a juice box makes the difference between whether or not our planet regains its equilibrium. But my friend’s story put it in perspective. Truth is, though she may not want to make disposable juice boxes a personal lifestyle choice, she can sip with occasional abandon.
Each day, every day, we’re faced with choices — large and small — that impact our communities and the larger world. Do your best to make the right choices. But remember: While anything disposable is rarely the best green choice, that juice box is not the straw that’s going to break the camel’s back.
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