Wednesday, August 30, 2017
By Nancy Hall, MA, LPC
So says Mr. McGuire to Benjamin Braddock at the beginning of The Graduate. “There’s a great future in plastics,” Mr. McGuire goes on to say. And this 1967 observation wasn’t wrong. According to The New York Times, 8.3 metric tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. Half of that since 2004. And while there are certainly benefits that come from plastic—lighter and easier to transport—it does not biodegrade. Once it’s made, it’s forever. And that has become a problem.
According to a July 2017 article published in Science Advances, by 2050, “roughly 12,000 metric tons of plastic will be in landfills or in the natural environment.” That mind-boggling figure makes me want to curl up in my bed and pretend I never even saw The Graduate or heard of The New York Times. Don’t even get me started on Science Advances! How do we even begin to address this problem that seems bigger than impossible?
Well, we can tackle the problem of single-use plastics. In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal in India banned disposable plastic in Delhi and its surrounding region. The ban was enacted in response to the tremendous amount of waste and illegal burning of plastics creating an environmental crisis. Many US cities are banning or taxing disposable plastic shopping bags. In 2016, France passed a law banning plastic cutlery, plates, and cups that do not contain at least 50 percent “biologically sourced” materials. This law will take effect in 2020 as part the Energy Transition and Green Growth Act.
Unfortunately, our current president has opted the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. However, many businesses and manufacturers are looking to reduce their global footprint and there are things we can do as individuals. Who would have thought tending and caring for the earth would become an act of resistance?
The Natural Resources Defense Council recommends the following 10 actions to reduce our use of disposable plastics:
1. Wean yourself off disposable plastics.
2. Don’t buy water.
3. Don’t use any product that contains microbeads.
4. Eat out less.
5. Purchase items secondhand.
7. Support bag tax or ban.
8. Buy in bulk.
9. Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner.
10. Pressure manufacturers to be conscientious in their packaging practices.
While the statistics are overwhelming and—quite honestly—terrifying, that’s no reason to become paralyzed or give up.
And being a good steward of the earth supports personal growth. Recovery comes from compassion and love—and that is a bi-directional process. If we make decisions that are kind to the earth, then we better able turn that kindness inward as well. We come from the earth and when it suffers, we suffer too. So connect to your compassion and take care of Mother Earth.
Nancy is a staff therapist at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she also leads the adult Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group and the Eating Disorder Therapy Group. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, August 14, 2017
|Photo courtesy of Nancy Hall|
By Rachel Baker, MA, LPC
In recent months, many of us have felt the desire to give back, to stand up for what we believe in, to become politically active--in short, to make the world a better place. Watching the news and reading our social media feeds, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done. This can feel like an incredibly daunting task! So, how do we begin?
First, it’s important to remind ourselves, we are each just one person, and we only have to do our share of the work. Phew! Now the task is to figure out what MY share of the work is going to look like. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” The world needs us to hone in on the issues that makes us feel most alive, most energized, most ourselves.
A great place to start is to really explore what makes you come alive. Do you feel energized while creating art? Do you feel most alive playing pick-up softball with friends? Do you feel most yourself while giving a speech on a topic that excites you, or do you prefer one-on-one conversation? Maybe you love being around animals. Whatever it is, it’s helpful to get clear about the things that light you up.
Second, get curious about the world issues that you care about most. Which articles to do stop scrolling through your newsfeed to read? Do you turn up the volume on news stories about environmental issues, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, education, religious freedom, education, or something else entirely? It’s likely that you care about many issues, and getting clear about one or two that you care about most will help inform how you decide to take action.
Now it’s time to put it all together. How can you use what makes you come alive to support issues and organizations that you care about? If hanging out with your friends on a Friday night feels awesome, why not start the night by writing letters to your House Representative regarding an issue you all feel passionate about? If you love to perform, could you present a concert to benefit an organization you care about? If you love animals, volunteering at an animal shelter might be right for you. Don’t be afraid to get creative! The world need to you to “come alive.”
Rachel is a staff therapist at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she co-leads the Yoga-Informed Therapy Group. You can reach Rachel at 773.929.6262.