Wednesday, March 27, 2019

You Don't Have to Eat Everything

The past week or so has not been the easiest in terms of my Lenten sacrifice. Of course, it's not meant to be easy. But some days I'm actually physically worn out from my efforts toward seeking out plastic-free alternatives. I don't believe it will always be so difficult to buy items without some plastic around it that is meant to be thrown away immediately upon purchase. But today it is and you have to be very intentional about your choices.

I'm learning a lot. If I had not committed to this offering, it would be so, so easy to make exceptions to my self-enforced restrictions. Mentally, I am forced to think outside the box to get what I need or want. You will be surprised at how much plastic there is out there when you start paying attention to it. And you become really shocked and frustrated once you decide to try to avoid it.

For example, here's how it went for me at the garden center I stopped in Sunday after church.

I went in with the following desires on my list:

  • to see if I could purchase birdseed not in a plastic bag (no)
  • to see if I could find fertilizer for my house plants not in plastic (no)
  • to see if I could purchase an orchid not in a thin, plastic planter pot (yes! - found one in a ceramic pot)
  • to see if I could find a little bonsai tree that I liked (no, but found some succulents instead)

I was quite focused on these tasks and it took me a while to find the few things that would work for me. As I was searching, I passed by the display for the summer-blooming bulbs, which informed me that if I plant these in the next few weeks, I could enjoy these blooms later this summer. I got pretty excited at the idea of these pretty, salmon-colored gladiolas - just the color of flower I had been looking for late last summer, but never quite found exactly what I was looking for. I grabbed two of the packages. Then I saw the deliciously fragrant Stargazer lilies and picked up a package of those too when, as I went to set them into my cart, I realized that ALL of these bulbs were in plastic packages.

I had a quick heart-to-heart with God just then. It went something like this:

Lord, this is such a small purchase and it seems I won't be able to get these in any other way! The window of time is so short and it probably won't make any difference, because I can just come back here after Easter and get these anyway, so I might as well get them now.

All of this wheedling over something I didn't even go into the store with the intention of getting in the first place! Can you believe it?! I was tempted to break my fast over a spur-of-the-moment purchase on a whim!


Slowly taking the lovely bulbs out of my cart to put them back, I wondered to myself how people used to get flowers like these without having to purchase them in little, individual plastic bags? Well, said I, they probably just got them from friends, family, neighbors. I thought then that I could post a request on Facebook with my friends. And if I really wanted to, I could post a want add on Freecycle and see if anyone had bulbs they wanted to divide or if they would want to do a perennial swap. I also considered that perhaps these same kinds of bulbs could be purchased without plastic packaging at another garden center around the Twin Cities, it would just take me more work to find them by calling around and asking and then, perhaps, driving somewhere out of my way.

OR, I could just go without.

Do people still drive Hummers?

Back when I lived in Florida, they were a pretty big status symbol and such an odd one. I mean, I still find it odd but, well, did you know that Florida is the flattest state in the nation? And I think we can agree that despite a hurricane that rolls around now and then, that the weather is pretty great. So, it always seemed to me such an irony that this vehicle, patterned after one used in active military engagements, would be such a thing in a state like Florida. Ironic and a little obscene.

What it boiled down to, of course, is not that this vehicle was necessary in Florida at all, but that the person driving it could afford it. They could afford it and the fuel that it cost to drive such a beast around all of the shopping centers and condominiums and keys. My righteous indignation simmered every time I saw one. I was offended at the cavalier handling of limited energy resources on such a flamboyant display of wealth.

The principle was this: Just because you can afford something, doesn't mean you should get it.

It was easy to see when I was thinking about it in terms of someone else. But Lent has been teaching me otherwise and has directed the lens of scrutiny more toward myself.

Just because I want and can afford to purchase some flowers for my yard, doesn't mean I should do so. The company selling this item - which is ironically something for beautifying our outdoor surroundings- has chosen the least expensive and most convenient packaging option for themselves in order to sell these items in units they have predetermined, no matter the cost to the environment.

I'm not suggesting that this company is doing this maliciously or even on purpose. It's just that they are not thinking about or concerning themselves with the trash they are producing in the selling of this product.

And when we buy it just because we can - because we can afford it, because we have earned our money and can do with it what we want, because it's a free country after all - we do the same thing that the Hummer driver driving around Sarasota does.

This seems to be one of the hardest lessons in our culture to learn. We are a very independent, reward-driven, market economy. But the planet doesn't actually have political boundaries. It doesn't know where people are free to choose what to do with their money or not. It just suffers everywhere with the consequences of our unbridled consumerism.

I still don't have birdseed, though I do know where to go now to get it in bulk when I get a chance.

I decided not to post my bulb request on Facebook because I realized how I was being swayed in the moment of wanting something, not because I had truly wanted it with intention, but just because it was there, it was pretty, and I could.

I'm living without plant fertilizer for now until I can find a recipe to DIY some food for my houseplants.

I still don't have tahini for making new hummus from scratch, since I can't find a source yet for it that doesn't have plastic wrapped around the jar lid. I''d almost given in to that purchase too, because I use tahini for a number of things and I couldn't think, in the moment, of where an alternative could be found. I hadn't considered that another viable alternative was to simply go without.

All of it is a pain in the butt and takes more time than I would need to spend if I could shop all in one place. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to go out searching for a potential source for how I want to receive my plants, my birdseed, my food. Sometimes I just decide to go without. Because the truth is, you really don't have to be able to eat everything.


Sandra Lynn said...

Love your insight!

Nicole Pivec said...

Thank you, my sweet friend! 😘🥰

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