Single-Use is Word of the Year as Election Mostly Ignores Environment

Single-Use is Word of the Year as Election Mostly Ignores Environment November 9, 2018

People picnicking with lots of single-use items all around.

I read in the Guardian that Collins Dictionary has named single-use the 2018 word of the year. It shows that people in general are becoming more concerned about the environment and their own wasteful habits. One wonders, then, about the scant attention candidates and adverts paid to environmental issues in the last election.

An e-mail from my environmentally conscious sister in Punta Gorda, Florida, didn’t contain the word single-use. But it could have. She brings her own reusable to-go box to restaurants. Others at her table, perhaps, feel a slight tinge of guilt as they laugh and pack leftovers into Styrofoam containers on their one-way trip to the landfill.

Meager efforts

Kathryn and her husband are going to take a group from their retirement community to tour a local recycling and waste-management center. She’s already gotten members to bring their own mugs to Saturday morning coffee. “Such meager efforts often leave me breathing a huge exasperated sigh at the enormity of the problem,” she writes.

My own contribution includes, when I think fast enough, asking the waitress not to put a straw in my drink. I tell her I like chewing the ice, but really it’s about the single-use straw. (Here’s some information on the problem of plastic straws.) I have to step up my efforts and start bringing my own to-go box to restaurants.

Meager efforts, to be sure. But a little candle glows all the brighter when it becomes part of a celebration. I’m convinced there is much to celebrate. A dearly loved foster daughter collects coats and blankets for homeless people as the cold Minnesota months begin. A neighbor in our small town sustains himself by saving recyclable materials from the landfill. Think how these local efforts would multiply if they became part of everyday conversations. Gossip about the good stuff!

Single-use and my mailbox

For decades people have talked about reducing the amount of paper coming to our houses through the mail. But the piles keep on growing. So I examine each sheet, looking for the ones with a blank side that I can turn from single-use to double-use. But lately the world of my mailbox has taken a step backward. Those blank sides now often come with large print informing me: “This page left intentionally blank.” Except it’s not really blank anymore, another sigh.

To end on a more celebratory note, here’s a second new word from the Collins Dictionary for 2018: Plogging. That’s the practice of joggers who carry bags with them and Pick up Litter along the way.

Image credit: Kashmir Free Press via Google Images

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