By: Paul Warner
Taking action to reduce an individual’s environmental impact and embrace local gardens is an admirable goal. We may have a high degree of motivation to make this a priority in our lives, but our world systems do not make these choices very convenient. We end up falling back into patterns of using plastic bags, not recycling enough, using energy-consuming transportation or eating food originating from far away.
But there is a way to get your motivation to overcome convenience to enact the change you wish to see in the world.
This is the way: start by putting what you are motivated to do in your path of current convenience. What does this mean? Here are a few examples.
Keep reusable bags in your vehicle
Let’s say you want to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Plastic bags often end up in landfills and oceans, wasting this resource by consuming single-use products and hurting ocean life.
One way to put reusable bags in your path of current convenience is to place multiple reusable bags in your vehicle. If you can walk to your shopping location, put them next to your wallet/purse or keys.
I do my best to keep reusable bags in my car so that they are there when I get to a store. This way, I reduce the use of plastic bags in my shopping.
Batching activities that require a vehicle to fewer days
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, states and businesses have reduced in-person contact to stem the spread of the virus. This has reduced the number of vehicles on the road, which does help reduce pollution and emission of greenhouse gases.
Since we have proven that reducing our reliance on greenhouse gas emitting vehicles is possible, perhaps there are ways to reduce emissions now and into the post-COVID future by batching activities requiring a vehicle.
Instead of going grocery shopping one day, going to the bank another day, going out to eat another day, etc., combine the activities so you can reduce the amount of driving and therefore, carbon emissions.
Work-from-home also makes it possible to reduce driving to fewer days.
When traveling, keep parts of your vehicle cabin or trunk set aside for recyclables
When traveling, recycling can be more difficult if one cannot find a recycling can. In this moment, the convenient thing would be to say “oh well” and throw these recyclable items in the trash bin.
But there is another way. Keep some bags set aside for those recyclables in the trunk of your car until you find a place to recycle them. Pre-sorting them is especially useful for places that reimburse CRV value, such as California where I am residing.
By putting those bags in a convenient place for recycling, it helps fulfill your motivation to be more environmentally conscious.
Get fresh fruits and vegetables from urban gardens and farmer’s markets
You can get good fruits and vegetables from grocery stores, but one way to ensure you are supporting local growers is through local farmer’s markets and urban gardens.
Search for farmer’s markets in your community online or check out The Urban Garden Initiative’s Chapter Map
Getting fruits and vegetables from local sources means supporting the local economy, purchasing products that require fewer greenhouse emissions to transport, and getting fruits and vegetables with a lower likelihood of pesticide use. This means healthier foods and better meals too!
Overcoming convenience to practice our values.
By putting into practice our motivation to do better environmentally, we make that path more convenient than what the world throws at us. Reusable bags, reducing greenhouse gas emitting transportation by batching activities, recycling while traveling, and buying produce locally are all ways to practice that value.
Putting these practices in our paths of convenience starts the momentum of creating those good habits until those practices become a routine.
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