First and foremost, thank you for clicking through to this post.
Why so formal? For the record, I don’t usually start off writing like this, but I would like to express my appreciation to you for your interest in reading about my sustainability story. Perhaps you are a true eco-warrior (much more so than me), or you might just be a curious passerby wondering why you should care; maybe you were considering taking the step to becoming more sustainable, but you didn’t know where to start; perhaps you tried, but you found it too difficult to continue. Regardless of who you are, and where you are on the sustainability continuum, I thank you for reading on as I share about my journey. To set the stage – I’m not a 100% zero-waste, super eco-friendly person. Like I said, it’s a journey and it’s nowhere near the end, so it’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. So while I would gladly welcome friendly suggestions, I’d appreciate if you do not judge this journey that I’m sharing.
Why This Matters
The purpose of sharing my journey is to perhaps get you interested in sustainability, if you have never considered it before. Or, to encourage you, if you have thought about it, or are currently trying to take steps to be more eco-conscious. Every individual action matters. You only need to get started. Being mindful of the environment around you is one of the first steps.
How I started my journey
So how did I become interested in this? Previously I was vaguely aware of the damaging impact of plastics on the earth. I didn’t think too much about it. It changed when I came across the documentary “A Plastic Ocean”, just shy of a year ago. In the movie, I watched how copious quantities of non-biodegradable plastics were piled up in landfills, being washed into oceans and taking the lives of so many innocent animals. The destruction was shocking. It was not just plastics that were a problem (though it certainly comprises a major part of it), but waste, in general.
I began to notice how much single-use items I used in a DAY. While eating out – a plastic container, plastic utensils, and a plastic bag. Buying an item in the supermarket – it came with packaging, and was then placed in a plastic bag (sometimes the overly generous cashiers give two bags for the heavy items!). Drinks came in plastic cups, with a plastic straw, and I’m given a plastic carrier to hold it. And all this would be just thrown out once I’m done with it. The problem is taken away from me, but it’s not eliminated from the face of the Earth.
God calls humans to be “stewards” of the Earth. That means we are responsible for ensuring its sustenance and sustainability for the future generations after us.
I realised that this callousness that I had toward single-use items was contributing to the waste that was piling up in the landfills. And collectively, the actions of millions, in fact, billions, is destroying our planet. I decided that I wanted to do something about it. I started to bring my own reusable utensils when I go out to eat, and I opt out of taking a straw when I buy drinks. Small steps, you might say. And it’s just one person’s effort – how much impact can there be?
Perhaps it might not be much. But if everyone felt that their impact was insignificant and therefore chose not to change, things are only going to get worse. I found that as I started to bring my own utensils out and refuse plastic utensils and bags, people around me began to get curious and interested about the cause too. It’s through small actions, not having to make a big fuss out of it, that others begin to consider that they can do something about it on an individual level too. And that’s how the influence slowly spreads – as people take individual steps to reduce waste and adopt more sustainable behaviours, those around them will begin to follow suit.
But I recycle, doesn’t that count?
There is a common misconception that recycling alone helps to prevent waste from piling up. That’s not to say that recycling isn’t important. But with the amount of waste we’re generating, recycling can’t even keep up with it. Furthermore, most plastics aren’t recyclable, and a lot of items that reach recycling facilities are often contaminated and can’t be recycled in the end. So while recycling does play a role in preserving the earth, it is insufficient as the only solution. Targeting the root cause by reducing waste has a more direct impact on the issue.
So how do I begin?
Answer: with whatever you’re comfortable trying out. A baby step that you feel that you can consistently practice. Here are some ideas:
– Bringing your own utensils, or using a reusable cup for your daily coffee
– Saying “no” to plastic bags when you’re buying a couple of items at the grocery store, or shopping at bulk stores and bringing your own containers
– Supporting sustainable, eco-friendly businesses by choosing to purchase their products
There are a myriad of ways, and you really just need to start with one, to kickstart your journey. These ideas are also things that I’m working on, and I have my own barriers too! Replacing single-use pads with a menstrual cup is an idea I’ve been toying with for the longest time, but just kinda freaks me out and I haven’t dared to try it yet. I don’t always remember to bring my reusable utensils out, and I always kick myself when I find that an entire hawker centre only provides single-use utensils (Lau Pa Sat, for instance). I do stumble, but that doesn’t mean I should give up.
Thus I would like to encourage you to join me on this journey of making our Earth a more sustainable place, starting with reducing waste. Every person counts; every action counts; and every day counts.
I’d love to hear what first step(s) you’ve decided to try out in making our Earth a more sustainable place. Do leave a comment and share your thoughts!