Art and the environment

Disposable Wealth

edible-coffee-cup

I am pretty sure that I invented the staycation. During spring break holidays for many years, our “trip” was the short ferry ride to town, a movie and  then dinner. The money we saved on not going to Disneyland or skiing for a week, made up for the hundred dollars or so that we spent that day.  Other ways to make a staycation seem like a holiday, was to go to an expensive coffee shop, order fancy drinks and maybe a chocolate infused croissant. If we were lucky it was with a gift card that was a Christmas present. And voila! You were on vacation, but without a hotel charge.

 Just recently when we went to a Starbucks to get that I -am- on-a- holiday vibe that I noticed a disturbing phenomenon, where everyone in the coffee shop was eating and drinking out of throw away cups, they had plastic water cups with straws and other garbage producing paraphernalia. We were the only family that asked for the washable cups, although there was a nice clean stack of ceramic mugs behind our perky barrista. Why is this? Is it cheaper for Starbucks to create mounds of garbage, then to pay staff eleven dollars an hour to put the cups in a dishwasher? 

This reminds me of an art installation I went to see at the Vancouver Art Gallery a few years back. It was a sculptural pile of metal coffee cups, representing the privileged class of people who buy expensive lattes in throw away cups. Even though we may be sitting at a table a few feet from the counter, do we feel it is our right to create more garbage than is necessary? There are so much plastic gyres in the ocean, that now garbage is entering our food chain. Apparently the fish are consuming the plastic, and we are consuming the fish. This is distressing. And if you are like me- you may feel helpless. I want to change the world but what can one person do? ­

I know when I am retired and have the time, I will aim for zero waste, like that lovely young girl in England with the blog called Trash is for Tossers. Unfortunately, like many working moms, and dads, etc. that are always in a rush, and are strapped for time, I don’t think I am capable of going to special stores to weigh out my beans in glass jars. (Although I would love to.)

 So, here is my list of fast help -the -environment -tips that don’t consume too much time but still makes me feel like I am doing something.

1. I will put those reusable shoppers back into the car as soon as I am done shopping, so that I am not caught without one, ( cardboard boxes work too) This one small practice, makes up for the mounds of plastic bags that I might otherwise use. My purse is also so big that I use it as a shopper for little items.

2. During our special trips to fancy coffee shops- I will ask for the washable cup and plate option. I will also remember my take out mug if needed.

3. I will encourage people to buy my natural bar soap and my wild crafted nettle shampoo bars, to eliminate all those plastic soap bottles. (advertising plug)

4. I will buy second hand clothes and furniture­ to help keep stuff out of the landfill.

5. Although I live in a city, I will grow veggies in the community garden, although this will be time consuming, but I am going to try to make it work.

6. All other fruits and veggies I will buy at the farmers markets this summer, as they look amazing and aren’t in crazy packaging. Have you noticed they are now putting mushrooms in plastic? There is a lady at the Cochrane Farmer’s market who conveniently sells fair trade African baskets right next to the vegetable stands.

I am still waiting for Calgary to hurry up and get those home composting bins with weekly pickups that most other cities have already initiated. ‘Cause we all know composting food is good for the environment.

That’s it for my rant against society today. Over and out, from this big city girl who lived on a gulf island and now is a big city girl again. And like the new internet promoted phenomenon of saying hello to a stranger everyday, I think if you do one good thing for the environment each day, while greeting a stranger, our world can only get a little better. A wee bit at a time.

Click to see Disposable Wealth

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