No, the title of this post has nothing to do with me as a person. HA. It does, however, have everything to do with plastic. Duh. 😉
Here’s the situation: today, I decided to go for a run, along a new route with a halfway stopping point at a nearby public beach. Context: I live along a large lake in BC so when I say “beach” I’m talking about a freshwater shoreline…the nearest ocean is about a 4-hour car ride from here. That is an important piece of info. Don’t forget it.
When I arrived at the beach, the wind was picking up, creating waves on the surface of the lake and a pretty epic-looking sky. It was one of those stormy winter days where things look and feel chaotic and there’s a buzzy energy in the air. Anybody else get this feeling or is it just me being in a post-run daze?? Well, anyway. The first thing I noticed as I stepped onto the sand and looked down was the color blue. Hm…immediate first thought: “Yay. A bottle cap. My favorite…nahhhhttt!” Turns out, I was wrong, but still sort of right – it was plastic.
However, that seemed to be it! Hooray! A freshwater beach with no litter?! It’s a miracle. I continued my walk (my justification was that I needed a rest break from all that running I was doing) and saw no more obvious plastic. Then, as I was about to leave, a blob of something bobbing along the shoreline caught my eye. At first glance, it might have been a piece of wood by the way it was shaped and its color (yellow) but upon closer inspection…yep, you guessed it! Plastic. This time, in the form of an old bottle, but with the bottom cut off.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well a) I’m running around a freaking landlocked city on a giant lake and finding plastic. This is where it all starts, people! Haven’t we been over this?? Also b) Both of these items made me stop and think: how did they get here? And why? The shovel seemed obvious: a forgotten toy, left behind on a summer day and buried in the sand over time. Still, someone had to bring it to the beach, use it, then forget about it and not come back for it. Justification (perhaps): “Oh well, it was 50 cents at the dollar store…guess we’ll buy Junior another one.” The bottle? Who knows. Perhaps it was a scoop? Or a mooring? It doesn’t really matter because the point is that this bottle clearly was not supposed to be washing up on the shore of this beach, meaning it too was forgotten.
And this is the issue with plastic, right? Because it’s cheap, because there will always be another one of its kind (bottles, shovels, etc…), we have no reason to hold onto it. We forget about our plastic items because they are not unique, and they have no real value. To use plastic is a mindless act. To me, this is so sad, especially in a time when so much of our days are often mindless: we mindlessly consume our food, our social media, our politics, and on and on it goes.
I will always argue that going on a plastic-free diet immediately puts you into a state of full awareness and is an inherently mindful act. By consciously choosing to remove ourselves from the stream of waste, we can actually begin to see plastic for what it is: waste!! In doing so, we also become more deliberate and thoughtful in our subsequent actions: choosing alternative packaging materials; pondering why on earth we got so carried away with plastic toys for kids; using less.
The moral of the story: pick up plastic when you see it, but don’t just chuck it in the recycling bin. Let its story, whatever it is that you make up about it, move you to action, whatever that is (as in: “I found a plastic bottle on the beach and that’s it! We’re done with plastic bottles dammit!!”).
Allow the plastic to make you a more mindful consumer…or at the very least, allow it to fill your brain with all sorts of questions as you huff and puff the few miles back from your wintery, beach-day run. 🙂