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Why Personal Changes Matter

By Larraine Roulston:

Changing climate, polluted oceans and what all that will mean for our children are overwhelming! How can a single person aiming to green his/her personal habits make a difference, you may ask? When individuals make adjustments toward “going green,”they influence others around them. That is the power of one!

Take, for example, the single-use coffee cup. When I began working inan office, a vendor with a snack wagon selling coffee and teain small light weight Styrofoam cups visited each floor. Being young and wanting to fit in, I used those cups without a thought in my head about theirproduction, transportation or disposal. In this decade, we now trash 430 billion disposable cups around the world annually. We might not have become addicted if only one person in each department of every workplace had brought his/her own ceramic mug and loudly exclaimed,“These cups are ridiculous. They dont hold as much coffee as my mug and they are top heavy!” Nor did department managers treat their staffs to mugs in order to save on disposal fees. It is certainly not anonerous task to bring your own personal cup and rinse it out.

 We are not only addicted to disposable cups but also bombarded repeatedly with single-use paper cup advertisements. We see them in movies, carried on city streets, and even used by sit-down customers in fast food places. Recently, while watchinga TV panel discussion, I noticed a take-out cup placed beside a reusable mug. Thats the powerof advertising. The change, however, to storing your own cup at workand toting it along for take-out beverages is underway. A singlepersons action to follow suit will fuel the momentum towards a moresustainable future.

Skipping the straw is simple. Join the folks who promote “Straw Wars,” “The Last Straw,” “Taking the One Less Straw Pledge”and “The SippingPoint.

Most people are in the habit of grabbing one or more paper towels when using a public washroom. Its easier to give your hands a flick andsave all that loose paper from quickly filling up plastic garbage bags. Another personal change is to make the switch from chemical household cleaners to baking soda and vinegar solutions. Search the Internet for non toxic recipes to clean your home and save a pile of money in the bargain.

When it comes to recycling, rinsing outcontainers is extremely important. Recycling is a volatile industry and, in order for it to flourish, we need to recycle correctly.Depositing a partially filled jar of hardened peanut butter into your recycling box will result in contamination and could result in the rejection of an entire load of otherwise clean containers. When traveling, take home your bottles, cans and paper. Tossing them into a road side trash barrel encourages others to do the same.

Its a personal journey, but once youve eliminated one hazardous or disposable product, you are ready to move on to the next challenge.

 Larraine writes a childrens illustrated book series on compostingand pollinating. To view, visit www.castlecompost.com.

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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