Ducks (or How to Save the Planet)

I like having all my ducks in a row. I like knowing what to expect, what the upcoming days and weeks are going to have in store for me. It soothes me. It gives me the feeling of being in control amid the chaos that surrounds me. Whenever I lose my (perhaps illusionary) grip on one aspect of my life, I start taking control over something else (→ coping mechanisms). I start micromanaging things that are probably not meant to be micromanaged, like having a cold for instance (I recently found myself planning the course of my cold, i.e. when to expect the symptoms to fade and so on. I soon had to acknowledge that’s not how a cold works.)

In short, I don’t like not being in control. Most of the time, however, control is an illusion that I create to feel at ease.
As a result of this awareness, a lot of my efforts are focused on letting go − of feelings that no longer serve me, of responsibility that wasn’t mine to begin with, of thoughts and memories that cause me harm and, most importantly, of control over other people’s actions (which isn’t really a thing anyway), over situations that cannot be controlled and over major incidents that are inherently out of my control.

I don’t know about you, but most current world events scare the sh*t out of me. As if the Donald wasn’t reason enough to consider moving to another planet, planet Earth is in big trouble as well. And the worst part is, we’re all responsible for it.
Reading about politics makes me want to bury my head in the sand a lot of times (and the media coverage of the current president of the United States often leaves me unsure whether I should laugh or cry − I believe I once referred to the whole situation as “hilariously sad”), but reading about global warming and the recent IPCC report makes me feel heartbroken. I feel like it’s a lost cause despite all efforts that are being undertaken at this time. The problem I see is that we have to act fast and, more importantly, it has to be a collective effort. We all need to do our part or else the planet we’re now calling our home is doomed.

Knowing this, every trip to the grocery store is a further cause for concern. I try to avoid plastic wrappings as much as possible, never use plastic bags for the vegetables I buy and if something’s wrapped in three different kinds of plastic, I’m simply not buying it. At the checkout, however, I witness a lot of people piling cartloads of plastic onto the conveyor belt: vegetables and fruits wrapped in plastic bags, plastic-wrapped meat, plastic-wrapped salads to go and, the worst of all, water in plastic bottles. It’s pretty safe to say that in my country, you can drink tap water without any concerns. It’s cheaper than bottled water and probably safer as well, since it’s being tested in a more rigorous way than bottled water. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water then please consider buying reusable glass bottles at least..! Also, invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it around with you, filling it up as you go, instead of spending a horrendous amount of money on bottled water from a vending machine. The same goes for your daily coffee − if you can’t go without your favourite pumpkin almond latte with extra non-dairy cream (no offence, I like those too – I just prefer making my own 🙂 ) from your favourite coffee house, bring your own cup!

A lot of people believe plastic isn’t an issue if it’s being recycled. While recycling is always better than putting everything in landfills, keep in mind that not everything can be recycled and plastic especially can’t be recycled an indefinite number of times. It’s definitely a good thing to recycle (keep that up!) but it’s much better not to buy plastic in the first place. Most people successfully suppress their plastic-consumption guilt by putting the plastic into the recycling bin, convincing themselves that this measure is sufficient (spoiler alert: it isn’t). I know what you’re going to say: What difference will it make if I’m the only one not buying this thing wrapped in plastic? It isn’t gonna change anything now, is it?!

I hear you. I’ve been telling myself the same thing over the years. But imagine if everyone else was thinking and acting this way. How are we going to save the planet?! You don’t have to change everything right this second. But there are so many small adjustments you can make today to make the planet a little happier. The important thing is to start questioning the choices you’re making everyday.

Do I need to use my car to drive there or can I take public transportation?
Do I buy this plastic wrapped salad or should I buy a sandwich at my local bakery instead (or make my own salad)?
Do I need to wrap my vegetables in plastic bags or should I purchase reusable nets (for example)?

And, perhaps the most important questions of all:

Do I even need this?

If you have a bulk food store near you, consider buying some of your groceries there. Rice, pasta, nuts, legumes and the likes don’t need to be bought in plastic bags − just take your own containers and go fill them up. Also, your soap / shampoo doesn’t need to come in a plastic bottle.
It sure takes some adjusting at first but it’s definitely worth giving it a try. If you live in my area / country, you can go check it out here.

I’m not living a plastic-free life. I also own a car. I would be a hypocrite if I said I was living a zero-waste, carbon footprint-free life. All I can say is that I’m trying.

But I digress. What does any of this have to do with me wanting to have my ducks in a row?! I’ll explain. The overwhelming feeling of having no power over the state of our planet or the future of humanity makes me feel lost and hopeless. I’m torn between wanting to change the world and not knowing how to make a difference.

So instead of drowning in the chaos and adopting a defeatist attitude, I take control over the one thing I’m in control of − my own way of life.
I don’t need to be a victim of consumerism. I actually have a choice over what I spend my money on and I can choose to make ecological, sustainable and ethical choices along the way.

Who’s with me?

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