Saturday, May 19, 2012

Graduation Woes

I've left a lot of waste in my wake this week.  Very little of it was directly my fault, but much of it could have been avoided with a little more backbone on my part.  Pretty much all of the trash came from graduation parties, both mine last Sunday and my friend's yesterday.

I did not purchase the items that became trash at my party, nor was I aware of their purchase until I came downstairs on Sunday to find a plethora of "Congratulations 2012 Graduate" party supplies strewn around our kitchen, living room, and deck.  Balloons were everywhere.  At least I made it in time to nix the idea of hanging shiny streamer things from the ceiling; they'll probably make a reappearance at my sister's party next year though.  The cupcake wrappers, tiered cupcake holder, plates, napkins, and cups were all disposable as well.  Some of the utensils were also plastic, but we didn't have enough in the cabinet so some people were forced to use our usual metal silverware. At least it was something.

So I didn't purchase these disposable items, but what does their presence say about my ability to communicate with my family, particularly my mom ?  I've been talking a little bit with her over the last year or so about my desire to reduce my environmental impact, but clearly it wasn't enough.  We have most of the items we would have needed to minimize the trash created at the party.  We don't have enough cloth napkins or suitable replacements for cupcake liners, but we have basically everything else. I could have talked to her more, and told her not to get balloons or ceiling decorations.  I could have suggested that we use the "outdoor" party plates and cups that we bought when I was little (they are plastic, but reusable at least).  I could have told her to just stick with cookies, and not worry about the cupcakes.  But I didn't talk to her, and so I began my post-undergrad life with several bags of trash created in my name.

At my friend's party, I failed to refuse, refuse, refuse.  His mother had also purchased Grad 2012 paraphernalia, removing the plastic shrink-wrap from a multitude of disposable items while we got ready for dinner.  I was several hours from home, hungry (and staying overnight), and couldn't bring myself to ask for a reusable plate or glass.  I didn't want to be rude or seem ungrateful, so I smiled and ate despite my dismay at my own actions.  I'm still in awe of those who can simply refuse to eat, or who bring their own dishes to events.  Or even those who can simply ask for a non-disposable option.  The experience underlined an area I know I need to work on, but for an introvert who usually tries her best not to make waves, it's going to be hard work.

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