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I just completed 5 long months on a jury. I’m glad to have my time back, but that’s a whole other story. On one of my last days at the courthouse, I was down the hall and I watched from a distance as the other jurors filed from the hallway into the courtroom after a break. There was a garbage can in the hall right at the doorway and, unfortunately, no recycling bin in site although I know they are elsewhere in the building. I saw several jurors throw empty plastic bottles into the garbage can as they passed it on their way in. I cringed as I watched each bottle get pushed through the flap on the can.
I can’t know for sure, but by the looks of things, I don’t think it bothered these people at all that they were throwing their plastic bottles away instead of recycling them. If they had not finished their drinks, they would have held onto their bottles and even brought them home if they still had some drink left. So why do they throw their bottles into the trash when they are empty instead of holding them until they can be recycled?
If it was more widely understood the amount of resources that go into making a plastic bottle, including oil, would they have thrown their bottles into the trash? If they knew that every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists because plastic lasts forever, would they have thrown their bottles into the trash? If our state had a bottle bill and they could have gotten some change for saving the bottles and returning them, would they have thrown their bottles into the trash?
After 5 months on a jury together, you get a sense of people’s character. I think all of those people chucking their plastic bottles out so freely would say that they care about the environment. This is purely an example of everyone needing to know and act on the fact that we all must consider the environment as we conduct our daily activities and know that every small action we take matters. Collectively and over time, we can make a difference for the earth.
In my estimation, to make the physical bottles tossed out by the jurors in that moment took about 6 liters of water and close to a cup of oil. Recycling plastic bottles into another useful product helps to reduce the amount of resources consumed.
A few days ago, I received the tragic news that a childhood friend of mine who suffered from depression had taken his own life. We had only been in touch a few times as adults. As kids we were close friends and neighbors, spending a tremendous amount of time together, until he moved away when we were 10 years old.
As I work through the grief of this horrible news, I found myself reading his LinkedIn page where he included a list of his interests. It struck me how so many of our interests overlapped and that these things have to do with nature, animals, and the outdoors. He even included on this list “saving the environment.”
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we were both interested in a lot of the same things. I think it is because during our formative years we shared so many of the same experiences. And I think this is indicative of why it is so important that we get children outside and let them have experiences that lead them to feel a love of nature, the outdoors, animals, and mother earth. My friend and I spent countless hours playing outside. We collected bugs, played wiffle ball and soccer, brought his pet turtle for walks, and went sledding on the hill in his yard. In fact, it dawned on me that we never watched TV and I had to wrack my brain to remember where they even had a TV set at his house.
I write today in my friend’s memory to say, let’s get those kids outside more to enjoy some free play and to help them develop a connection to nature. A connection that gets them interested enough in saving the environment to try to save it.