This past December/ January, I had the privilege of scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea while staying on Cayman Brac Island. This trip really opened my eyes to the beauty of the ocean, as well as to the beauty of the plants and animals that call it home.
(Photo credit: Sub-Aquatic Sports and Service: Rick Sass) Pictured- My mom (Maria) and sister (Lydia).
Since this trip, I have been learning more and more about how the things we do in everyday life effect our oceans. For instance, paper and plastic usage. 80% of of pollution from land enters our ocean system, and 90% of this pollution is plastic. This means, 80% of the 500 million plastic straws used in America EVERY DAY end up in the ocean, killing thousands and even millions of animals each year. I also learned that every 24 seconds, Americans will use 44,110 disposable coffee cups. 50% of the plastic products that are used every day are used only once, and then disposed of. I won’t throw any more statistics at you, I think the numbers speak for themselves. This blew my mind. I never really thought about where my to-go coffee cup ended up, or what happened to the plastic straws I used. It makes me really sad to think that the beautiful sea turtle I saw while diving, or the reef shark I met while snorkeling could possibly end up being killed by the plastic spoon I used last week.
I started following some accounts on Instagram about sustainable practices, and came across a company called Simply Straws. This company makes glass, reusable straws in order to cut back on single use plastic ware. I purchased a utensil kit off the website that includes a bamboo fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks, a glass straw with cleaning brush, and a RePEaT utensil holder made out of recycled water bottles. All products are BPA and toxin free, and the company is a Clean Energy business and EPA Power Partner. The products are reusable, sustainable, durable, biodegradable and handmade with intention in California. (Read more at www.SimplyStraws.com)
Another company I came across is called Klean Kanteen. This company produces steel cups, mugs, and tumblers as a sustainable, earth friendly alternative to single use paper and plastic cups. I purchased this steal pint with a lid, and a cozy made out of recycled fleece from Patagonias’ Common Threads Initiative. My glass straw fits in the top, and I can use it for all the coffee and tea I’ll need to drink while waiting during layovers at the airport! Because, let’s be real, traveling requires copious amounts of caffeine consumption. (Read more at www.KleanKanteen.com)
I’m excited to use these products in an effort to cut back on my plastic and paper usage. It may seem like such a small, insignificant thing to do, so it is hard to feel like it is worth the energy and the money. But many small actions add up to one huge result. The way I look at it, if my small actions causes even one person to become more aware of their plastic and paper usage, then that’s awesome! I mean, I wasn’t aware of the movement until just a couple weeks ago. I was inspired by people who are taking action, and now I’ve decided to do the same thing. The oceans are important, even if they seem like a distant dream to us Michiganders.
I’m a far far cry from living totally sustainable and Eco-friendly, but I am glad to be a little more aware of what to do to protect our earth a little more.
And now, an inspirational quote from my favorite environmentalist: The Lorax.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not.”