As some of you may know, I wrote this about Greta Thunberg. Since then, she has traveled to the United States on a wind-powered boat and inspired climate strikes globally.
Every Friday, billions of people world-wide marched to protest rapid climate change and spread awareness. Several months ago, in the heat of the spread of protest, the strike reached even my little town in Virginia.
It may be old news now but the experience is still as refreshing as ever. Throughout the day, school children had traversed the streets, sharing peace dolls and signs they had crafted. I remember walking in the warm afternoon sunlight to join the climate rally at one of my local parks.
I believe more people could have attended the rally. But, like every plastic bag, every person counts.
A cluster of people were gathered crafting signs as pictured below, and a table was set up for people to come and write the little dedications they would make to reduce waste in their own ways. One slip of paper went into a community jar to be preserved so that our progress may be looked back upon next year while the dedication was repeated on a little round of natural wood salvaged from the landfill. The round was turned into a magnet to be kept as a daily reminder to work at our dedication.
Several people stood up to speak at open mic, including a student from one of our town’s colleges, and a woman urging people to call our Mayor to stop the burning of wood at our landfill.
I wanted to stand up and speak. Working in the restaurant industry, it pains me to know how many vinyl gloves are thrown away daily. They cannot be recycled.
The server at Subway? She changes gloves frequently, whipping on a new pair to avoid contaminating foodstuffs. State law does not require gloves to be worn, but does require that ready-to-eat food be prepared and served without bare hand contact. Wearing gloves is the unspoken solution.
Imagine a 100 pairs of gloves being thrown away daily. Now multiply that across thousands of Subways. Then multiply it by every restaurant in business. The number sends one back reeling.
I love cooking good food for people. But the truth is, wearing gloves in the kitchen can actually spread more contamination then bare hands, as gloves carry soil from one area to the next, and discourage washing of the hands. Employees are known to use the bathroom with gloves on . . . and fix your sandwich with the same pair. At least with bare hands, one can feel them get dirty.
People were sharing problems and solutions at the mic, and I did not have a solution for my issue. Not wanting to turn the rally into grounds for mere complaint, I instead kept The Trouble With Vinyl Gloves to share with you.
The rally finished with a heartfelt chant of “no more coal, no more oil, leave your carbon in the soil“.
I compost and carpool, and we combine shopping trips with work as to avoid unnecessary carbon emission. We use Eco-friendly laundry detergent and dish soap, shampoo and conditioner. We are not vegans but we eat organic to support the reduction of pesticides and chemicals. Our milk comes in glass bottles.
Because I live forty minutes from the nearest town, recycling is naturally harder for us. Upon leaving the rally, our dedication was to use reusable shopping bags. So far, we have done well.
My only thought is with so many signs being painted, while some may be reused or recycled, surely thousands of cardboard signs and banners laced with paint are finding their way into landfills. One might think you are being more supportive of the planet by not holding a sign at a rally.
Some simple ways to help reduce waste, from simple to complex, are to
- Use reusable grocery bags.
- Carpool for work, playdates, shopping, etc.
- Stop buying excessive and easily broken plastic toys
- Buy gently used clothing online or through thrift and retail shops, such as Goodwill.
- Buy and use a metal straw instead of generating waste with countless plastic ones.
- Use Eco-friendly products.
- Go paperless for bank statements and bills.
- Do shopping for the week in one trip to reduce fuel wasted driving back and forth.
- Go solar.
- Use an electric car.
- Take-out from restaurants less; it is better to eat in on plates then carry out with Styrofoam or cardboard.
What else can we do to help the planet? Is the planet Mother Earth to you? Do you make conscious decisions to give her a helping hand?
Do share your reasons and decisions! Every little thing, like every voice and word, counts.
Photo by Pop And Zebra on Unsplash