The Butterfly Effect

Some days I am more mindful than others.

Just remembering to bring my reusable shopping bags into the store from my car is a small victory. It's not a big deal but it's one less plastic bag that I use.  Each day that we make one mindful decision creates a ripple effect. Yesterday I made some choices. My family loves seltzer water. We go through cases of seltzer at a time.  I recycle the cans but yesterday I thought, I can do better.  I decided to invest in a Soda Stream.  We use it every day and have cut back dramatically on our recycled cans. I also switched from my single use coffee pods to a french press.  I didn't eliminate my pods entirely - as I love a quick shot of espresso - but I am reducing my usage and recycling the old pods.  I was surprised and pleased when I dropped off my bag of used pods at the UPS store, and the clerk said they get several dropped off everyday. People are waking up to the power of mindful decisions. It's such a hopeful sign for the future. 

If you're of a certain vintage, like me, you may have grown up learning about the 3 R's; reduce, reuse and recycle. Recently, this has been updated to the 5 R's; refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle.  The extra R's, refuse and repurpose have been recently added. Refuse to buy things that jeopardize the long-term health of the planet. Vote with your wallet, in other words.  "Stop sucking" was a recent campaign to eliminate plastic straws. Eliminate the demand and the product will stop being produced, simple laws of economics. Repurpose allows us to take what has already been made and find different uses.  But repurpose is lower down in the order of priority because we want to stop products from being produced that we do not need and are damaging to the environment.

Recently the EU Parliament approved a ban on single use plastic.  Plastics make up over 80% of marine litter.  On a recent trip to Zanzibar we were staying near the beach and decided to take a walk. I grabbed a bag to pick up some of the litter along the way.  Within a few minutes we had so much trash we had to go back for more bags.  Zanzibar is on the east coast of Africa and much of the garbage floats across the ocean and lands on its shores. While it may seems thousands of miles away, the trash that floats to its beaches will eventually find its ways to our shores. 

This article is meant to be more about mindfulness than recycling. Every decision we make has an impact.  When we are mindful of our decisions, how they affect not only ourselves, but the rest of the world, we become aware of the power we have. There is a mathematical theory called the Butterfly effect that states that small, localized changes in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. Next time you go for a walk, grab a bag, pick up some trash and think about the fact that you are metaphorically flapping your Butterfly wings and creating ripples around the world. 

-Maria Bromley, Mom Of Model

 
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