>> Thursday, June 17, 2010
Have you ever heard the argument, "You would have to go through X-amount of styrofoam cups to equal the environmental impact of ONE mug, so there's nothing wrong with using styrofoam cups." (Or variations on that theme?)
When our lives are filled with cheap disposable products, we develop a throwaway mentality. We don't value things because they're so easily replaceable. We don't value the materials that went into them or the labor that built them. They pass through our lives so quickly, why would we give them any thought?
When I hold a styrofoam cup in my hand, I barely notice it's there. It looks just like every other styrofoam cup I've ever held, and in a few minutes, I'll toss it into the trash without a second thought. When I hold my stainless steel water bottle, I think of the thought process that went into choosing it and how much it cost, and I feel good for making a good choice. I remember taking walks or playing outside with my kids because the water bottle came along. I keep track of it; I don't want to lose it. It's on my mind.
I have a sentimental attachment to my children's cloth diapers, in the same way I grew attached to some of their baby clothes. When I see a disposable diaper, I think, "Ewww...stinky garbage." Even when they're not on a child, don't you think of them as kind of gross? (Or is that just me.)
Even our stained cloth napkins and mismatched food containers and the hankies made from my husband's old shirts carry memories in every use, though perhaps they don't have as much sentimental value as the TV I bought ten years ago when I rented my first house or the raggedy couches that were our first grown-up furniture purchase.
Is it silly to feel attached to inanimate objects? I don't think so because those objects are made from materials that come from the earth, and caring for the materials is one more way to strengthen my connection to the planet I love. Those objects are made by human hands, and caring for the objects shows respect for the people that created them. And those objects enter our homes and become part of us in ways large and small. When we fill our lives with objects we care about, it shows that we care about our lives.
If you're new to a reusable life, you might want to check out Reuseit.com for cloth bags, water bottles, lunchboxes, and more.