Week 2: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea - Speak Up About Single-Use Plastics


Yo, it’s week number 2 of the 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea challenge! Did any of you go to a farmer’s market last weekend? I sure hope so, because once you do, it’s hard not to become hooked on the vibrant air of community and the good feeling that comes from supporting local and doing good for the planet.

Missed week one? No worries.

The Nasty Plastic Plague

Week number 2 brings a bit of a different challenge. This particular issue became more and more relevant for me after I became hyper-aware of plastic waste and poor environmental practices in restaurants and other businesses.  The challenge: speak up about a possible improvement that you think one of your favorite restaurants can make in terms of its plastic use. You know those places you go to eat, the ones you adore, with delicious food that you can’t get anywhere else and that give you the warm fuzzies because it’s familiar and it’s the best…but that also produce horrendous amounts of waste? I experienced that in Coeur d’Alene this past week at the Fish Market. My family loves this place. AMAZING fish tacos. But EVERYTHING was served with single-use plastic sauce tubs and plastic cutlery. Straws were rampant. The beers on tap were even served in plastic pint cups. WHAT. WHY. GET A DISHWASHER. 

But you know what? I didn’t say a damn thing. I got silently angry as I ate my fish tacos and glared at the plastic around me, but then I got up and left. I’m trying to change this mindset of “get angry and leave.” Sure, you could choose not to go to these restaurants any more because you don’t like the way they manage waste. Or you could try to make a lasting change and speak to someone about it. It might feel uncomfortable, but hey. You’re speaking up for something you believe in and that is admirable. Own it. Be polite, but own it. Maybe the manager hasn’t even thought about that option, or they’ve heard it from a few other people and were waiting for just one more complaint before they stopped using plastic straws or got compostable containers…

Let's Do Something About This

Here’s a tentative script.

“Hey, I was just wondering if your manager was in today? I wanted to offer a suggestion.” No? Ask for a comment card, or ask for the manager’s contact info to maybe give them a call or an e-mail.

Manager in? Or someone else who works there who wants to talk? Start with a compliment (butter them the heck up). “I adore your fish tacos, I brought my whole family in today to enjoy them!”

Now, move on to the criticism. “However, I am really passionate about the environment and am particularly sensitive about the issues that plastic creates, especially for our oceans. I noticed a lot of plastic waste is generated here, and I wondered if you’d considered getting rid of plastic straws and using real glasses for drinks? An easy way to cut down on waste!”

End with another compliment. “I really love what you offer to the community with this place, and I’d love to keep coming in. But I really hope you’ll think about what I’ve said, because it’s hard for me to justify coming somewhere that produces so much waste.”

The Ripple Effect

BAM. Good job. You just had a somewhat difficult conversation, and no matter the outcome, pat yourself on the back for doing something about the plastic problem. Even if the manager completely ignores you and runs away to do “more important things,” you’ve started a chain reaction. Bring awareness. Do good. Maybe another customer overheard you and has started thinking about how this issue affects them! That's the ripple effect.

So are you up for this challenge? I know you can do it. I just did it with a comment card at one of my Dad’s favorite burger and beer joints. Look! See, easy!

Single Use Plastics

Comment below once you’ve done the challenge and let me know how it goes.

Getting Rid of Single-Use Plastics

Brought my own coffee cup on the way to Brisbane - who needs all that single-use junk on the plane? Travel is one of the worst culprits in creating waste. Just pack it yourself!

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