I joined the GIST team with a beginner’s desire to learn how to live lighter on the planet,  not with any notion that I knew how to do that.  I like the idea of being the change we want to see in the world, but I’m not at a point where the practices necessary to support that come easily or naturally.

For example, one small thing I decided I could do was to carry my insulated mug with me all the time so that I wouldn’t use disposable cups. Seems simple enough, and sometimes it is. If I have my mug with me, I can either make coffee at home in the morning and carry it to the train, or I can buy coffee at the train station using my mug – no paper cup and related stuff plus the coffee guy gives me a discount for using my own cup.

But last night I left my mug at work, and then this morning I was moving slowly and didn’t have time to make and drink coffee at home, so I NEEDED to buy coffee at the train station, and there I was with a paper cup, plastic lid, and one of those corrugated cup-cozies.  All of which I threw in the trash can as I got off the train, like many people already had done this morning, judging from the number of cups already in the trash can.

OK, so progress not perfection on the paper cup front.  But there are so many little changes I can make, and each one comes with a set of practices to support it. Reusable water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles of water. (Another thing to remember to carry with me.)  Bringing lunch to work without using disposables. (More things to carry to and from work, remember to wash at night, and repack the next morning.) Using less plastic – how does one run a kitchen without zip-loc bags? (I love zip-loc bags, but at least I wash them out and re-use them…)

By itself, none of these is all that difficult, certainly not insurmountable. Taken together, they require mindfulness and thoughtfulness and allowing the time it takes.  Gee, those sound like values I could embrace, or at least aspire to.  So here I am on the journey.

About the Author
Paula Welling

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