Over the past year, I have made a lot of personal changes to become more environmentally conscious. I was the person who used a plastic fork for lunch at work each day. I didn’t use re-usable bags at the grocery store. I would order a drink from the drive through and not think twice. If there were free bottles of water at a work conference, I would grab one.
I think my shift started as I began to develop my brand for 27Teas. I took a lot of time to seriously determine who I wanted to be. Who do I idolize? I asked myself, if I was someone on the outside looking in, who would I be inspired by? What type of person and brand would I be proud of? As I started crafting this person I wanted to become, I thought about my future as well as my future children’s future. What kind of would would they have to live in?
This exercise allowed me to open my eyes and see what was going on around me. I always knew I wanted 27Teas to be a social enterprise but this period of time is also when I decided to pick clean water and sanitation initiatives as my way to give back to the world around me.
To be honest, I also think my shift had something to do with social media. On instagram, I started following different environmental activists and pages. I saw videos and infographics. Even though I knew there was so much ‘bad’ going on out there, these images helped drive home the issues. I was becoming informed in a different way than before.
Slowly, I started making changes. I started bringing my own silverware into work each day and stopped using plastic. I put all my reusable grocery bags in my car and actually brought them into the store with me each time. I have been swapping my household cleaners and soaps to more organic and non-toxic options. One day we ran out of napkins so I pulled out some cloth napkins from the back of the cupboard to use at dinner time and never looked back.
As I developed 27Teas, I made sure to recycle packing materials whenever possible. I try to purchase paper products such as packaging and sample cups instead of plastic ones.
Now that I have made this switch, being conscious of my actions is second nature. I am constantly seeing waste and thinking of ways to improve. I am also seeing how many people have not yet developed this mentality and it saddens me.
I see instagram influencers posting their latest cheap plastic gizmo they got off Amazon, or posing with their cute outfit while holding their PSL in the single use cup. I see these people with thousands of followers who don’t seem to care about their environmental impact. Closer to home, when I am out and about with 27Teas, I see parents praising their children when they throw away their plastic water bottle. I see customers ask for a tea sample, throw away the cup, and then ask for another sample and therefore the use of another cup.
There are so many examples, but I just keep wondering to myself, what if we all kept our environmental impact at the forefront of our minds. What if every social media influencer also cared about their environmental impact and helped drive a change by making it popular to use a reusable mug for their coffee? What if we explained to children that the plastic water bottle that they throw away in the trash bin doesn’t just disappear because it was put in the trash. What if everyone had the ‘reuse’ mentality and automatically thought to keep their sample cup to reuse for another sip?
I am far from perfect and I do a lot of things that are still hurting the environment. There is an infographic or picture floating around the world wide web saying something along the lines of “we don’t need some people doing it all perfectly, we need everyone doing it imperfectly”. This article isn’t to say anyone is good or bad, or to shame someone for buying a bottle of water. It is to share my observations and dreams. A dream that our children can live in a beautiful world because we have all made little changes to improve our environmental impact.