Guest Writer: Melinda K. MacKenzie – Kindergarten Teacher @ International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
Convenience is defined as “being easy.”1 I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this word and how it’s influenced us to have incredibly entitled expectations in our lives. Our society praises, promotes and has brainwashed us with convenience, and with no regard for its future impact or environmental effects.
I can’t help but wonder, why aren’t more people thinking about how INconvenient our lifestyles have become for the Earth? And how can we convince everyone that a “being easy” mentality is going to destroy our planet? Afterall, wouldn’t that be the ultimate inconvenience!?
Convenience ≱ Our Planet
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE how convenient my life is/can be – and it does make my life easier. Convenience is crafted, molded and embedded in the decisions we make, to make life better – and there’s lots of money to be made in our convenient decisions as well. But, after hearing the UN Climate Change Report in late 2018, I’ve realized, as great as convenience is, it’s also killing us!
Now, I have a difficult time watching people walk around with disposable cups & lids, plastic straws and water bottles. Because we don’t want to be INconvenienced by having to wash a container out and/or lug it around with us, unnecessary single-use plastic waste is perpetuated by our love of and reliance on convenience. Our convenient lifestyles don’t hold us accountable or responsible for what happens to our convenient decisions, once they leave our hands.
And I’m hoping you can help me convince people that this has got to change!
Conveniently, being more environmentally-responsible is NOT such an inconvenience!
There IS good news! Just because you’ve chosen/been guilted into an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, doesn’t mean you’ll be completely deprived of the conveniences of life! For instance, you can still get guilt-free take-away! I have been frequenting my favourite food spots with containers I collected (when I wasn’t being environmentally-conscientious) and a couple even offer a discount for bringing your own containers! Being there in person, also means you can refuse utensils, condiments and other unnecessary bits.
My environmentally-responsible decisions have also included many other perks, such as:
🌳My coffee (frappe) stays colder for way longer in my reusable tumbler!
♼Some cafés offer incentive(s) if you bring a reusable cup, like at ISPP’s school café, you earn a stamp towards a free coffee; after 10 stamps, you get your drink for free. Thanks Liz & Camille!
🌳I’ve explored my strategic/thinker side in transporting my metal straws – in my bra strap, hair, pockets, waist bands and best of all, belt loops!
♼I’ve had the chance to work on my patience, when I’m still given plastic straws despite my requests.
🌳I’ve been the source of smiles, laughs and general entertainment for bystanders, as I juggle items from the supermarket out of the store, because I’ve forgotten to bring my own bag and I refuse to get plastic ones.
♼In the new year, my students will get to be creative and make something with 20 ecobricks2 that were built using plastic snack waste at school, and any/all soft plastic items I’ve purchased since being back in Phnom Penh. Thanks to Amy for introducing me to these!
🌳My butt has been totally okay, since not using 2+ply, bleached, toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic!
♼I’ve rubbed off on some of the people around me, who are making more environmentally-friendly choices and sharing them with me and others!
🌳More and more hotels are going “Refill not Landfill” and it means you can have as much water as you want – you’re not just limited to your standard, two free bottles!
♼I’ve gotten to connect with a bunch of ‘Earth Mamas’ who are dedicated to saving the Earth!
🌳I am excited to learn more ways that I can help others ‘ditch convenience’! Thanks in advance for sharing your tips and tricks!