Food & Beauty,  Mental Horizons

A Year of Non-Harming

“Alexa, play that song again, PLEASE!” Skye is in the kitchen with her Barbies playing some sort of Japanese pop that she discovered when Alexa misheard a request she had. I’m sitting at my desk wondering whether I want to require her to say Please and Thank You to the AI (I’ll bet there’s an app for that) in order to improve her manners. River and Geoff are napping in preparation, I’m sure, for keeping me up all night.

It’s New Years Eve. I’m working until 5, then we’re headed to a friend’s house for the evening where the food and champagne will be plentiful. Like everyone, I’m looking forward to the new year and many exciting new adventures.

Our family has decided that our family resolution for the year will be to focus on non-harming and the many, many ways this can apply. We talked with Skye in the car on the way back from our holiday celebrations about this and how we might implement our resolution. We decided to try a new way to be non-harming once a week and see what happens.

Since we were driving through what used to be bayou outside of New Orleans and is now being eating by the gulf due to many human-caused factors, our discussion turned to how not to hurt the Earth and Skye suggested we start the year with a week of not buying any plastic.

“Do you know how hard that will be?” I sputtered at Geoff, who isn’t the one responsible for most of our regular shopping.

“You can do it!” he said, “We need to figure out ways to buy less plastic.”

We stop at a tourist trap to buy gifts for our friends who kept the dog over the holidays. I manage to find stuff packaged in boxes and cans and glass with only a small plastic seal. I ask the cashier to put them in paper bags for me, which he clearly struggles with.

“Just put them in plastic,” the other cashier stops him, “why are you doing that?”

I quickly jump in. “I asked him to put them in paper. I just gave the kiddo the anti-plastic spiel. I can’t exactly walk out with plastic bags now.” There’s no line behind me, so I don’t feel particularly guilty for my paper bags taking a few more seconds to pack.

On our drive home, we find drinks in aluminum cans and snacks wrapped in paper (hard to do late at night when all convenience store food is packaged in plastic). Skye gets a banana. Subway wraps in paper and DQ comes in a paper cup and we use the bamboo spoons I keep in the car. The crawfish joint we stop at for lunch runs out of reusable cups and serves our drinks in Styrofoam.

The big challenge comes at our first grocery stop once we get home. It is almost impossible to buy plastic free. The milk in cartons still has a plastic cap and the out-of-season tomatoes come in a plastic container. I head up to our local gourmet grocery to get milk in a reusable glass bottle and canned tomatoes. I don’t even attempt to buy meat, though I’ve read up on the internet how to do this.

If nothing else, we will certainly cut down plastic consumption and be more mindful when we do buy it. Skye is already good about bringing her water bottle along with her on trips and she’s learning to remind me to grab our reusable bags before we go into the store.

It’s still hard in a society that uses plastic for everything. I present my reusable bag to the check out girl, who passes it down to the girl bagging my groceries. When the bag is half full she asks me, “paper or plastic?”

“Can you please put it all in that bag? It will fit.” She looks at me skeptically, then proceeds to pack the remainder of my groceries in plastic. I pay then reach past her, take the veggies out of the plastic bags and put them on top of my reusable bag. “It all fits and I’m trying not to use plastic. This way I can carry a bag with one hand and keep the other on my child.” I’m fairly certain I was treated to an eye roll on my way out.

On-ward with the adventures in non-harming.