The past few days has been nothing short of brutal; NY/NJ has been heatwave central. I read that some parts of the world reached 107 degrees! And to think that there are still many people who don’t believe in global warming!
So, I’ve jumped onto the no-single-use-plastic bandwagon. I’ve always been very conscious of how we (at home) recycle. However, after a huge composting initiative here at work, my consciousness of my own use of single-use plastics went into overdrive and has since become an obsession. Working in a school, I see how much waste we create. I see how much gets tossed. Last year, a group of parents started a drive for Material for the Arts and the turnout/collection was ridiculous; But our spending and wasting is another story.
Anyway, as I was browsing Facebook, a friend shared a link to Crayola Color Cycle. Basically, Crayola will take and recycle your plastic markers (any brand, style, etc.) for you – they even pay for shipping! I mean, how brainless is that? I took the project on once I realized that it the one small thing I can do for our planet. I put out a small 12 inch by 14 inch rectangular box outside of my office one day in mid-May and the progress was slow, but I remained hopeful.
Kids who get picked up late usually end up at my office. Pure curiosity (and their youth and the inability to read) has prompted many of them to ask me what the signs on my box read. Upon telling them what my collection box was for, many of them would test out the markers already placed in the box and say, “hey! These still work! Why are they being tossed?” From there, they want to talk about waste and then the reusability of these markers. Unsurprisingly, these were also the same kids walking to my office to drop off one or two dried out markers to be recycled. It was really heartwarming. One girl dropped off a handful of dried out markers that she found in the school’s art room; Then her friends started coming by with dried out markers! I also found out that some colleagues at our high school (same school, different building) were collecting plastic markers for Color Cycle, too! My colleague suggested sending my collection over to her and she would mail them in.
The school year came to an end and my box was overflowing with markers to be recycled. Little did I know that I many of my colleagues were just as passionate about recycling as I was. I came back from a two night overnight professional development to find that someone has left a 13-gallon garbage bag of plastic markers in my office. I combined what I had and that was that. That was my small act of citizenship.
I have a colleague who is moving from NYC to teach at an underfunded school near Tijuana and I let her grab whatever markers were still in good condition; she took quite a lot, and I’m glad!
On top of this, I completed a challenge that restricted me from using single-use plastics, especially straws. It was much easier than I thought. I purchased a pack of stainless steel straws and paired them with my water bottle and iced coffee container. I have to admit, it hasn’t been easy – I hate washing my drinking vessels (mainly because I’m lazy), but it is a small price to pay to do your part. After completing my challenge, I decided to stick with not (or trying not to) using single-use plastics, which include straws, plastic to-go cups, plastic utensils, etc. It has been quite gratifying. And, in the bigger scheme of things, I know that I’m not the only one; there are other people out these who are just as conscious. The impact that we’re making as a whole is going to make a difference. Even my city has adopted a plastic bag ban!
On a last note, my coworker shared this NY Times article with me, which makes me feel like we’re that much closer to Gilead. Okay, I know, dramatic, but seriously, it’s possible, and what’ll happen when they summon unwomen to clean the colonies? Not I!
How do you do your part in protecting the environment? What things do you do in your everyday life to be more considerate to the Earth?