We Can Only Do What We Can Do

I’m afraid that I have fallen prey to a common environmentalist bug: guilt. My enthusiasm and zeal for reducing my plastic usage slowly soured as the holiday season set in. My positive outlook devolved into a paralyzing sense of hopelessness. I began to view any purchase this holiday season with dread and more than a little bit of guilt. Was this gift for my brother packaged in too much plastic? Was the present for my mom recyclable? I felt stuck and yet the harder I tried to unstick myself, the more complete my paralysis became. I meant to write a post two days ago, and my main excuse was that I had a bad cold and felt drained most of the time. But I knew, too, that I dreaded writing because I felt that I was failing.

The challenge for me has always been balancing realism and optimism and also how to translate big ideas into small, achievable steps. For this project, my idea is pretty big, and I need to remember that I am not going to succeed in reducing my plastic usage if I try to do it all at once. I have already begun replacing household products with alternatives made from non-plastic materials; I have continued to avoid plastic bags whenever possible; I have asked for no receipts when I make purchases (they are often coated in plastic); and I am planning on taking another batch of empty toiletry bottles to Origins tomorrow as part of their recycling program. I am doing what I can.

SO: the moral of this Christmas Story is not that you’ll shoot your eye out; instead, the moral is that we can only do what we can do. With that in mind, here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, a Joyful Kwanza, A Happy Boxing Day, a Happy Belated Solstice, A Cheerful Festivus,  and a very, very good night.

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