I recently did an interview with a local radio station. I’d been invited on to talk about Earth Month and what we can do in our homes to reduce our carbon footprint.
I offered up my usual advice — neither new nor glamorous, but nonetheless worth repeating. We must, I said, remember that the three Rs start with “reduce.” We absolutely must reduce our consumption of fossil-fuel-burning energy. And then I outlined how incredibly simple — as well as economically sound — this is. If you’re doing it right, I said, living green should, overall, save you money.
The radio interviewer interrupted. “Hasn’t Earth Day lost its appeal?” he asked. “Didn’t it used to be trendy? Don’t you worry now that no one cares?”
Last week I walked out of the supermarket with four paper bags and no she-brings-her-own-bags discount on my receipt. I forgot my canvas shopping bags — again. I walked the three blocks home worrying that the thin little handles would break from the weight of the apples, milk and laundry detergent; and thinking of ways to make sure I didn’t commit the same environmental indiscretion next time.
I know it’s important to BYOB (bring your own bags): In the United States alone, 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go into making the plastic and paper bags we use every year. According to the non-profit group Natural Capitalism Solutions, five canvas shopping bags that are reused multiple times can replace up to 520 plastic bags in a year. So why did I find myself standing in the produce aisle thinking, “I forgot to bring bags again!” as I loaded carrots and peppers into my cart?
It’s time to come up with a better plan for remembering my reusable shopping bags the next time I go to the supermarket. Here are a few things I’m going to try:
It usually starts with one plastic water bottle or one beer can, casually tossed aside, just visible in the underbrush off the side of the trail where I’m walking. My thoughts are soon torn away from nature and “What a beautiful place this is,” to “What an eyesore; what the heck was that person thinking?” And then, all of a sudden, what just a moment ago looked to me like a pristine wilderness transforms into a one-item garbage dump. All I can focus on is that one rusty can or bent bottle.