I promise I won’t ask you to be vegetarian!!
To be honest, I can’t look you straight in the eye and claim that I care about the environment.
Let me explain.
I don’t know how high the sea levels are rising or how much depletion of the ozone layer is occurring neither do I know about the sea animals that are going extinct. It’s hard to care about things you don’t know about.
I can however, look you straight in the eye and say that I care about myself.
Let me explain.
I have stopped pretending that the environment and I are mutually exclusive. Without the environment, there would be no me. So I may not care that the sea animals are dying but I care that one day, I’ll order fried fish at a restaurant and they’ll say
“Sorry, the world has run out of fish”.
And I’ll freak the fuck out! (because I like fried fish)
The internet has a ton of ideas on how you can live an eco friendly lifestyle but I find a lot of them rather impossible to live up to. However,there are 3 little changes that I’ve adopted /plan to adopt to help save the environment and I think you should adopt them too.
1. Stop Using Straws.
I was on the judging panel for a debate competition and we were served with bottled soda which came with straws. I reached out for the straw and began placing it inside my soda but changed my mind half way and dropped it back on the table. The young man beside me asked
“Why did you do that?”
I said “We use straws for less than 10 minutes and they take 200 years to degrade”.
He laughed and said “Anastasia, regardless of whether or not you use that straw, the world is still coming to an end”.
With that, he picked his straw, placed it in his bottle and took a long satisfying sip. I felt like an underperforming clown.
For the longest time, I never took soda without a straw because I was trying to protect my beautiful teeth. But I came across articles that detailed the damage this tiny plastic object could cause and I chose the environment over my teeth. But everytime I’ve had to explain to anyone why I don’t use straws, I end up feeling foolish because they hit me with the “one straw doesn’t change anything” narrative. I’m hoping you would be diferent.
Straws are made from plastic. They are non biodegradable which means they never be broken down completely by microorganisms. They are however degradable, which means that they break down into really tiny particles; but this process takes at least 200 years. Straws are too fragile to be recycled and because they are light weight, they are most often blown into water bodies constituting about 13% of all waste recovered from the ocean. They end up releasing toxins into the water which could cause pollution (which could kill me) and also choke water animals(remember the fish story?)
No one is emotionally attached to straws. It’s a luxury, not a necessity so believe me when I say it’s easy to give up. Of course, persons living with disabilities and person’s who are sick would need a straw. But do you,a strong healthy adult, really need a straw to take a bottle of coke? Do you?
2. Re-use Plastic bags.
I made a draft for this blog post on Saturday and while I jotted down this point in my notebook, I made a mental promise to challenge myself. I told myself that I was going to take an old nylon or a tote bag when I go to get groceries at the store later that night.
I came back with 3 fresh nylons holding my groceries. I later realized that I forgot to buy a pack of spaghetti at the store and I was grateful for another opportunity to prove my worth to the universe. I made up my mind to take a nylon along with me when I go to the shop in my hostel to buy the spaghetti.
Point is, it’s hard and I’m painfully aware of this!
Almost everyone I know has more nylon than they need(Usually all stashed in one big nylon), yet we keep collecting more.
Nylon has the same effect as straw on the water bodies . Unlike straws however, it is recyclable but this is Nigeria! So instead of using millions and millions of nylons everyday that bring us closer to running out of fish, we could ‘simply’ re-use old nylons. So help me God!
3. Turn off the lights!
And the fan! And the sockets! And the air conditioner! Turn off your electric appliances when they’re not in use. First of all, it makes your electric bill lighter, you’re welcome.
Secondly, Reducing the amount of electricity we consume consequently reduces the amount of electricity generated for our use and this reduces the fossil fuels that are combusted to produce electricity! It’s a short boring process you can read about here. But the summary is that, turning off your electrical appliances helps reduce air and land pollution.
This is a challenge I recently took upon myself and trust me, turning off your bulb when you sleep or leave the room isn’t as hard as you might. Matter of fact, it isn’t hard at all! Just do it!
Just incase you want to hit me with the “One straw or light bulb doesn’t make a difference” narrative, I want to casually remind you of the butterfly effect that explains that big changes in the world especially the climate can be influenced by things as little as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings.
First it’s just one straw less, then it’s 10 straws less, then it’s millions of straws less and then we never run out of fish! I think I’ve exceeded the number of times I’m allowed to say fish. Said it again! Sorry!
Practice these 3 lifestyles for the environment.
Practice them for you!
So we can continue to breathe clean air, eat freshly grown crops and order fried fish. Sorry!