Since I have discovered the Zero/Low Waste Movement, I have come to appreciate the number 0. How many straws do I need? Zero. How many plastic bags do I need? Zero. How many balloons do I need? Zero. If they banned straws, plastic bags and balloons tomorrow, it would not make an ounce of difference in my life. My kids would still be able to achieve their dreams if they were to ban these 3 items. Nothing in the human world, would seemingly change if these 3 items were banned.
However- if you looked into the marine world, or the overall wildlife, their lives are affected greatly by human choices and human social norms. The over-use and the misuse of plastic is one of social norms that leading to the total extinction of species. If a balloon from a New Years Eve Party ended up killing a bird, is it still murder? Is it homicide? Would our hard working police departments investigate it ? Would we go to jail for it? If we were to kill another human on purpose, the law today would call that first degree murder, and we should and will go to jail for a long time for this crime. I don’t think most humans are purposely trying to kill another animal. I don’t think what humans do to other species is first degree murder. However, could it be involuntary manslaughter? Involuntary manslaughter is if a human were to accidentally kill another human (like in drunk driving). People still get jail time in involuntary manslaughter, but just a shorter time then first degree murder. Are we humans, as the dominant creature on earth, creating involuntary manslaughter of wildlife?? Its hard for humans to totally comprehend that just skipping one straw, or refraining from using a balloon can save a fish, bird or turtle. Just one balloon can wrap around a bird, and ends its life. Just one. After zero- my favorite number is one.
While its hard to stop using all plastic, because its so embedded into our infrastructure, just skipping one thing, is tremendous. My son was invited to a birthday party at Chucky Cheese the other day, and I held my breath, thinking, here we go again. I am going to see all this trash, all this plastic the comes with all these kids birthday parties. The mom of the birthday party all the sudden announced “Please do not throw the straw away, they are reusable silicon straws for you to take home” . The mom- then looked at me, and was like “Rini, its not perfect, but I am trying.” The 10 disposable straws that she kept from the waste stream, might saved a bird, fish, or turtle, but more importantly, it was pushing the human social norms a new and positive direction. The other parents started to look at the straw and I heard things like “This is cool.”, and “I will use this at my birthday party”.
Can I repeat that some of the parents were saying “I will use this at my birthday party” !!! Even if we cannot skip all the trash, all the plastic waste, just one piece of plastic has a butterfly effect on the whole system. If you are not familiar with the butterfly effect, its the idea that one small change has ripple effect and can change the fate of humanity. Just one.
Please join me for Zero/Low Waste Support Group Meeting at at my House. Anything eco- talk on Friday May 10th @11 AM. If you are interested please email me and I will give my address.