Trying to Do My Part to Save the Environment


For many reasons I’ve decided that it’s time to take more seriously the concept of reducing single use plastic and start taking some baby steps in that direction. I’ve made a few changes like switching to shampoo bars, and laundry detergent strips, and dryer balls, and mesh produce bags. They all work great. The biggest challenge is how to enjoy the take-out cold drinks without using one of the single use plastic cups.

In the summer, we always enjoy the frothy cold coffee and fruity concoctions at Tim Horton’s, but they all need to be made in the  “sterile” plastic cups because they’re mixed by a sterile machine, or so I was told. So I gave up my Cappuccinos for Iced Coffee and started taking my own reusable cup with me. The coffee is poured into my cup, a squirt of flavor is added, followed by a scoop of ice cubes. No cross contamination right? Well, a few service people tried to say they couldn’t do it because their hand stirrer could not go into my cup. Then someone told them, just use a plastic straw to stir it. That was fine until I got stainless steel straws and began taking one with me. “Don’t worry about stirring it,” I’d say. “I’ll do it myself.” Everyone was happy.

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Then we ventured away from the franchises that had become familiar with me. Too often, even though the service person would agree to make my coffee in my own cup, I’d catch them making it in their plastic one and then pouring it into mine. I again explained why that was unacceptable and how it could be remedied. Obviously they had no concept of why I was doing this and some got quite defensive with me.

One time, I went onto the Tim Horton’s website and sent a message of complaint, about that policy, and their need to reduce their garbage better recycling. The next day I got a lovely boilerplate reply telling me how they are reducing waste with their recycling bins.

Things were going smoothly until a week or so later. We were at a Tim Horton’s in the Brookdale Plaza in Peterborough. I asked for an iced coffee to be made in my cup and, “don’t worry about stirring it. I’ll do it myself with my own straw.”

Her reply? “I can’t make it in your cup, but I can pour it into there once it’s made.”

I tried to explain nicely to her that it can be done without violating any health codes, but she wouldn’t even listen.

“I’m not allowed to do that! I’ve been working here for four years and I’ve never done that!”

Jim asked to speak to the manager. She claimed she was busy serving the drive-through. “You can call the owners if you want,” she yelled from the other end of the counter. “Or you can call Head Office. They’ll tell you it’s not allowed. Peterborough Health Unit won’t allow it.”

Again I tried to explain that there would be no cross contamination, that it wouldn’t be any different than refilling a hot coffee mug. But she would have none of it. She even said something about she couldn’t touch my cup.

I eventually got Jim to walk away and we went to MacDonald’s, where, after I explained what I wanted and how to do it, the manager said, “I can do that.”

The next time we were in our own local Tim Horton’s and the owner/manager cheerfully accepted my cup for refill, I told him about my Peterborough experience. He was surprised. He told me that he’d worked for the Head Office for several years, setting up franchises across the country, before deciding to become an owner, and that that woman was totally wrong. He said several people now take in their own cups or mugs just as I do.

Have you taken steps to try to reduce your footprint on the environment? If so, what has been your experience?

 

 

Thoughts on Women’s Protest March, January 22, 2017


Women's March in Washington, DC

Women’s March in Washington, DC Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

On Saturday, January 22 I watched, with joy, the news clips on the internet covering the huge, peaceful protest marches that were taking place across the United States and around the world. I was impressed, and wished I could have been a part of it. The marches were in protest of the plans, especially those that would take away women’s rights, of the new US President, and his cabinet that he hopes to have approved – plans that will have profound effects on all humans, worldwide. At least that’s what I thought it was about.

The next morning, however, when I was browsing my Facebook feeds, I was very disappointed to see, a picture of a black woman at one of the rallies holding up a sign that said, “Don’t forget: White women voted for Trump.”

My reaction was, “why is this part of a protest march meant to unite people who all  fear the same things and are there to support each other?”

I pondered that while I showered and dressed. When I returned there were many more posts along the same vein. Many complained about the number of white protesters that were there; complained that they hadn’t been there before so they shouldn’t be there now or it was too little, too late. When I replied that not all white women had voted for Trump and probably some blacks had as well, and said that I supported the protest as a means to unite all humans over these causes, not to divide by race or sexual orientation (that was another complaint – transgenders hadn’t been specifically addressed) I was told that the majority of white women had voted for Trump, and “that is a big problem.”

So, I ask, if this is true (I haven’t seen any such statistics, but I believe it could be possible) we can’t change that vote, so what good is hammering on about it going to do in trying to reunite the nation? Will such accusations not only feed the hate?

Another person indicated that she was disappointed that there had been no police action against the marchers that usually happens during Black Lives Matter protests. She blamed that on the fact that it was a “white women’s protest.” In actual fact, the three main organizers are not white at all. But the marches were planned long in advance and well organized. They were not protests against police brutality. It was also fortunate that there were no extremist showing up to create violence. Maybe these are reasons why these marches turned out differently.

You can’t get people to listen to you if you yell insults at them. This is true on all issues, on all sides. The hate and divisiveness can’t be stopped until people are willing to LISTEN to each other; to put themselves in the shoes of one another. Get rid of the chips on the shoulders. Then we can let go of the past and work toward a better future, united.

Was I wrong? Was the purpose of these marches not to show a strong front against the frightening turn that government leadership is taking; to stop the spread of hate and sexism and of dictatorship? If I’m right, how can that be accomplished if we continue to distrust each other, to insult each other, to think of ourselves as part of specific categories of the human race, rather than as belonging to the human race as a whole? United we stand; divided we fall; and terrorists, dictators, racists, bigots win.

This is my opinion. I hope that you can try to understand it, and respect it. I’d be happy to respectfully listen to yours.

Let’s give peace a chance.

Red Pashmina Campaign


Instead of traveling writing today, I want to spread the word about the Red Pashmina Campaign that was started here in Peterborough, Ontario three years ago, and has been building ever since. Yesterday, for the first time, I attended the annual campaign launch. I came home with an overwhelming respect for the young women who initiated this program, a longing to do something to assist, and a beautiful new red cashmere pashmina.

red pashmina

The Mission Statement,  “The Red Pashmina Campaign helps people from all walks of life make a lasting impact on the lives of women,” sums up what they’re all about, but how they go about it is inspiring.

Partnering with Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan the Red Pashmina Campaign has two aims.

First, to raise funds to help support women in Afghanistan. The sales of the Red Pashminas have so far helped to pay for the staffing of a maternity clinic in Afghanistan, and to facilitate education initiatives for women and girls. The goal for 2014 is to educate the educators, who are lacking in training themselves.

The second aim is to uncover and share the stories of women struggling to improve the quality of their lives and others, in both countries, and to recognize and celebrate their trials, triumphs and accomplishments.

red pashminaVisit the website to learn more and find out where you can get YOUR Red Pashmina! They’d make great gifts for all the women on your list and you’ll be helping other women at the same time.