Growing up in the Bay Area, California, it was just normal to be environmentally conscientious. For example, I can’t remember ever throwing away anything recyclable; we always had recycle bins alongside our garbage bins, and the recycle bins were 3 times as large. California was often having a drought, like it sadly is now, so we were conscious about our water use too. I’ve never let the water run when brushing my teeth, and I generally take lightning quick showers. It’s just how I grew up. I didn’t realize the rest of the world wasn’t also living this way until I moved to Hong Kong in 2007. My building had no recycle collection. I would carry my bags of recyclables to public recycle bins that were there for pedestrians to toss in their cans and bottles…and then was completely dismayed when someone told me that garbage and recyclables alike were simply tossed into one landfill.
In 2008 I went on a Teacher Training in Hoi An, Vietnam, where we did beach cleanups. I was horrified at the volume of litter - both garbage and reusable, recyclable items - that I collected in a very small area of beach. This is when I vowed to no longer use - at least as best as I could - throwaway cutlery, plastic straws, or plastic bags, and to talk about it more to people I came into contact with. It takes a bit of effort to carry reusable items with me, but it is the least I can do for our planet. If I do end up having to use plastic bits - if I need to eat on the go when I’m out or order in or something - I make sure to properly recycle everything. It’s something that I just do all the time, and I can’t bear not doing my part.
Of course it’s easier to take a glass jar or plastic tub that has food remnants in it, and just throw it into the trash. Of course it takes more time and effort to rinse it out so you can recycle it. But I simply can’t see how it’s not worth it to take that extra bit of time to do the right thing.
The more you make green decisions, the more it simply becomes a habit, a way of being. There are so many small decisions you can make throughout the day that add up to ultimately make a difference. When you buy something in a store, do you really need to take a bag if you didn’t bring your own? When you wash your hands in a public bathroom, do you really need to use a paper towel (let alone several!) or can you just shake the water off your hands? When you go to a yoga studio, do you really need to use their towels to wipe off a few beads of sweat?
When you order food to go, can you take the extra moment to tell them you don’t need plastic cutlery if you can use the cutlery you have at home? How about putting a filter on your tap or at least getting a Brita pitcher rather than buying water bottles? It’s all simply about taking a moment to make the decision that is best for you, your fellow humans, and your planet, and realizing that yes, your seemingly small decisions do matter.
My favorite Simply Straws-friendly recipe is a smoothie that my nutritionist has me drink regularly:
half teaspoon matcha green tea
handful of spinach or kale
handful of rocket or watercress
handful frozen mixed berries
2 heads of broccoli
1/4 piece lemon with skin (it will keep your smoothie preserved for up to 3 days)
1/2 stalk celery
teaspoon nut butter
1 scoop Sun Warrior sprouted brown rice chocolate protein powder
fill up with unsweetened almond milk or water
To order Leah Kim's Custom A-Mason Mug, click here. A portion of sales will go directly to our partners at Non Toxic Revolution. To learn more about Leak Kim and her work, please visit her website at leahkim.com.