Saturday, October 18, 2008

Plastic Water Bottles, Kids Parties, And Being Different

My kids don't drink out of plastic water bottles. That's not to say that they have never done so, or that they never will again. It's just that early in this year, as my awareness grew to the problems at hand, we decided to get them some stainless steel bottles that were small and had cute little designs on them. They took them to school and not only did they like them, but most of their friends liked them so much that they asked their parents for them, and as a result, the water bottles coming into the classroom are much less than they used to be.

While this works most of the time, we generally fill the bottles up and bring them with us and our kids think nothing of drinking clean LA tap water, it's not foolproof. Take last Thursday.

I went to a party with my daughter at one of her friends house. As is usually the case, I had my backpack and had packed her water bottle for her along with some other things like a cool little plastic set of cutlery she likes which she can use when she has cake if she wants to.

We got there and she started running around with her friends and having a good time. She's 4 so we're still at the point where parents stay, so I sat down and started talking to a few of the other folks I knew there. About 5 minutes later, she came over and asked for some water so I pulled out her bottle, handed it to her, she took a big swig and off she went.

Another 5 minutes or so passed and again, she asked for water, but this time, she didn't want her cool bottle. Instead she pointed to the crate of small water bottles that all the other kids were grabbing from.

Now i know what you are thinking, that my heart sank, that i took her home, that i couldn't bring myself to do it. But actually, quite to the contrary, I reached over, grabbed her one, cracked it open, and gave it to her, much to the shock of some of the folks who know me fairly well and what i've been up to.

Don't get me wrong, it bugs me to have her drinking from plastic, health implications not being my only concern, but that said, life is not an all or nothing game. Even at 4 she gets that drinking out of steel is smarter than plastic (and cooler) but at the same time, she wants to be like her friends. At school she has made that happen, at home parties it can be another story.

Why am i writing this. Partly because it pains me to add a plastic water bottle to the basement, but moreso to throw the idea out there that we all need to do the best we can and recognize that an occasional slip up doesn't nullify everything else we are doing. Life is about steps and as long as the overall path leads forward, we're on the right track.

Allright, jumping down off my soapbox. I've got clean up duty down in the basement, and then I need to play subliminal anti plastic cds in my daughters room for a few hours (I kid).



Anonymous said...

Great Blog.. I actually wanted to make a simple documentary for years about who much waste do I actually generate say in a month, being an average, relatively conscious single person.. I am always amazed at how much I do.. Well I think I am too busy with other things to do it.. So maybe you should!.. Thanks for all the tips, and please keep posting more tips as you think of them.

Anonymous said...

By not having kids, whatever waste I contribute in the form of a "carbon footprint" is miniscule compared to you.

I recycle plastic bottles, cans, foil, etc., but beyond that I don't worry about the environment at all. I don't believe in global warming, and again since I have no children, when I expire I have no concern about what is left behind.

Really, why worry about it? I guess if it makes you feel better then that's great because I can guarantee you that for every great thing you do to protect the environment, there are a thousand idiots sticking plastic bottles into the ground just for fun. And, laughing at you the entire time

Anonymous said...

We're all guilty of plastic addiction, but you're right on to push back. Excellent points – steel is better but not as easy to transport. I'm a bit of a garbologist myself, collection old paper but making art out of it.

Great blog, excellent stories.



Dave said...

Hey Anonymous,
Thanks for your post and i truly mean that. Overpopulation is the big white elephant int he room and a tough one to bring up with people. I thought long and hard about whether to have kids and decided that replacement value was as high as we were comfortable with. That said, we are raising our girls with a higher consciousness than most so my hope is that they can help rather than hurt the situation. But you are right on on the too many people front.

I'm assuming the global warming comment came from the NYTimes piece, a misinformed article unfortunately. I actually don't talk about carbon footprints or global warming for just the reasons you spoke of. many don't believe they make a difference. My point is there are a number of purely logical things to do that will have great effect on a lot of levels, so pick on (or ten).

As for your impact versus mine, you are probably right, having kids puts me over the scale on you (although i don't know if you have a private jet that you like to fly becuase the radio sounds good so who's to say). That said, I know people with 5 kids. Does that mean i should do less? I think that any sentient being on this planet has a responsibility to future generations, just like our ancestors, related or not, had a debt to us. Having kids amps it up, but personally, i don't think having no kids releases anyone from their obligation to try to live responsibly.

And finally, yeah, you may be right, for everyone like me there may be 10 people throwing bottle sin the ocean. That said, i can only be responsible for me, and hope that oothers will follow. Even if they don't, at least i can sleep a little better at night knowing I'm doingt he best i can. 10 people doing that is better than 11 isn't it?

Thanks for the note.

Consume Less, Conserve More!!!!


Anonymous said...

We just celebrated my daughters first birthday with family in NY. We figured our footprint would be less if we traveled to NY from Boston rather than have 15 relatives travel here from there. Course we had to smile and say thank you when we unwrapped the plastic toys and watch as my mother-in-law brought a case of plastic water bottles. But I think positively and remember when everyone would be drinking rotten sodas over water years ago. Patience. They'll learn.

Mariano RenterĂ­a said...

Hi Dave, i been following you for a bit time, but I really think that you are correct, if you push a lot to your daughter she will hate your imposition in the future and will do the opposite.

I think you are in a good path, keep it, you are an inspiration.


Mexico City

PS: As tap water its not very safe here, I buy a big water bottle, and when the bottie its over you take it, and the sanitize it an fill it again, but I'm about buy a home water filter =P

Anonymous said...

As a human, I care for the future of our earth. Whether I have children or not is irrelevant. We all know children and want the best for them whether they belong to us, our siblings, our neighbors. Not caring for the future of our planet strikes me as rather selfish.

We live in a world of convenience and I'm certain that there are 1000 people throwing their plastic bottles in the ocean for everyone that I choose not to purchase. But, I also know that there are many people that don't know anything about the water bottle and trash issue despite the fact that it's everywhere - I meet them every day when they ask me about the metal bottle that I tote around.

That being said, perhaps you're doing the world that much better by having 2 kids that you're raising in a conscious way than someone who has no kids at all. Maybe one of your kids will take what you've taught them and solve the plastic or trash problem once and for all. Or maybe you're just raising great kids who will be open to other peoples' concerns and beliefs.

I applaud Anonymous' decision not to have children...