Earth Day + Kicking Habits

garbage patchThe first Earth Day was celebrated the day before I was born on April 22, 1970. For that reason – and because I’m a tree hugging earth sign – I’ve always had an affinity for the celebration. But we all know that it’s not just about the day. It’s about what the day inspires us to do the other 364 days of the year.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I resolve to only resolve once a year. So I’m sharing today what I’ve been doing since January 1st.

This year my ONE BIG THING has been to stop taking, accepting, walking away with plastic bags from shopping institutions. Like not at all. Like never. Like if I forget my reusable bags then I will carry the shopping basket to the car and unload the items.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is easy or super convenient. And sometimes retail clerks get seriously befuddled. And now I have to buy poopie bags (biodegradable) for when I walk my dog.

But there are two things have made keeping this resolution easier:

1. Knowing about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. As soon as I learned about this ridiculously awful, HUGE, swirling and floating garbage situation, I knew that I couldn’t live with myself if I continued to add to it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is perhaps the best known of the garbage patches, estimated by some researchers to be roughly the size of Texas. THE SIZE OF TEXAS.

From Earth Magazine:

“…we still produce more than 260 million tons of plastic each year. Almost a third of that plastic goes into disposable, one-time-use items. Only about 1 percent of it is recycled globally, so much ends up in landfills. Worse still, some of the plastic winds up in the world’s oceans.

No one knows exactly how much plastic is in the ocean. Studies over the past few decades have suggested that millions of square kilometers of ocean surface may be covered with floating garbage “patches.” And there are at least five known patches: three in the Pacific, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that floats near Hawaii, a patch near Baja California, and one near Chile; and two in the Atlantic, including one in the North Atlantic near Bermuda and one between South America and South Africa.”

2. A secret weapon to kicking a habit. Want to change a behavior? Smoking? Sugar addiction? Do yourself a favor and read this post at Nir & Far: Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong.

Here’s the part that’s sticking with me:

“By classifying specific behaviors as things you will never do again, you put certain actions into the realm of I don’t versus I can’t.”

It may sound really elementary, but by saying “I don’t use plastic bags,” I really do not take plastic bags. It’s become part of my identity and 100% within my control. I’m not being denied. I’m 1000% creative, juggling in my little hands, under my arms and beneath my chin two tubes of toothpaste, a box of cereal, four apples and a container of yogurt. (No, no. I’m good. I got it.) And I really do got it.

Almost five months into the year and ZERO plastic bags. It feels good not to half-ass this resolution. It feels especially good when leaving Target, who I’m convinced train their clerks to bag only 3-4 item per plastic bag.

If you by-passed it when reading through this post, you need to see what’s happening with these garbage patches.

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