BeStrawFree July 8, 2011

Tomato plants in my front yard--mid June

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.
Dalai Lama

This morning I counted 21 tomatoes on my 4 tomato plants.  The peaches on my tree which sprouted from my compost pile will be ripe soon and it has been raining every night here in Durham, NC for the past 3 or 4 days.  These are all good things, yes indeed.  Summer is here and the cotton is high, or at least promises to get there if the rain keeps up.

Here are two new initiatives which have excited me:

1) A 9 year old boy named Milo Cress from Vermont has started a “Be Straw Free” campaign in his state.  His website tells us that each day we use 500 million straws–enough disposable straws to fill over 46,400 large school buses per year.  He is asking restaurants in his home town of Burlington Vermont to sign a pledge to give people a choice, straw wise.  People are listening, the governor of Vermont, for one.  You can go to his website and find out more about what  he is doing and sign your own pledge if you so choose.  This young man has research behind him and a plan in front of him.

2) A grocery store with no packaging is planning to open in Austin Texas.  The name of the store is In.gredients and  this is what it says of itself:  “in.gredients is a collaborative effort between business, community, and consumers with the goal of eliminating food-related waste while supporting local businesses and farmers.”  Go in.gredients!, is what I say–I wish you great success in your new enterprise.

Meanwhile, I continue to feel fortunate to be able to go to my local Durham Farmer’s Market twice a week if I want to where I can get fresh local produce and bring my own packaging very easily. Some new neighbors have offered me access to their front yard, which is full of ripe tomatoes and cucumbers as I write this, and the blueberries are ripe for the picking all around.

All of this is good news.  The hard stuff for me is still how much non-recyclable single-use plastic I find around me all of the time.  After a year and more working on being single-use plastics free, sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all I see.  More on this later, I am thinking…

Right now  I want to say thanks to all around me who are sending me information and changing their lives because they want too. Some of the things my friends have told me they have done since I have begun my quest to use much less plastic in my life are these: they have bought refillable coffee mugs, begun to compost, begun bringing their own bags to the grocery store and stopped using single-use plastic water bottles.  I feel grateful for the gracious attention these friends are paying, and also grateful to the many people I meet from day to day doing the same.

Plastics are in our lives to stay.  We love our computers and our shoes and our drainpipes and our swimsuits.  Our tennis rackets and our cell phones and our plastic tubing.  Fountain pens, lawn chairs and flyswatters.  Many  many people are working on making all of this more sustainable all of the time.   More and more plastics are becoming recyclable, yet many still are not.  All of this paying attention can be hard work. It can also feel good.  I mean, my compost pile is an amazing and very active place.

Lately I have been struggling with my own righteous indignation over the glut of plastics in our lives.  Why aren’t more people bringing their own bags, or not using straws or whatever?  Why isn’t recycling easier?  Why is the plastics industry keeping those arrows around those numbers on disposable plastics which are NOT recyclable?  Why? Why? Why?  I do not have answers yet as to how to deal with all I have  been feeling.  I know I feel a responsibility to keep learning about our earth and how all this plastic is affecting us, and also, equally important, what initiatives people are taking–which is why I am so excited about the two examples above.

The last of a peach smoothie with a choice of re usable straws--metal or bamboo

Rebecca July 15th, 2011

Hi Bryant,

Yes, it is frustrating to see so much continual waste and plastic streaming. It is reaffirming to me every time I see a shopper with their own bags, containers… and I hope to be an example to someone as I pull bags out of bags at the store. There was a story about tossing starfish back into the ocean; finding meaning in doing a small saving task even though the big picture seems hopeless. Again I appreciate your efforts to make this process develop in your blog!
A related question for you; I love your use of old broken records in your bird creations! Do you know of eco-friendly ways to use HUGE amounts of old records that NO one wants to listen to, that do not create toxic fumes in the process? My son (and house) has become a repository of sorts and I hate for them to just dump them in the trash but they have been unable to find other uses. I appreciate any ideas!

Amy Kellum July 15th, 2011

Thank you, Bryant! I am now educating my waitresses about asking if people want a straw. It’s hard to remember, but I am trying. Little by little. xo

Jacque October 3rd, 2011

Bryant… your quest inspires me everytime I make a purchase. Thank you! j=)

Rita Rakestraw December 1st, 2011

Hi Bryant
Thanks for sharing that kids idea about the straws. That is a great idea! I never take a straw at a restaurant for me or my kids. I’m going to put that on my Facebook page.

Can’t wait to see you at our school at Lake Myra Elementary in Wendell in January for our Artist in Residency! The kids are going to love you.

Rita Rakestraw

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