I've always leaned towards the crunchy side, so I'm always amazed when I run into people who have no environmental awareness...at all. No judgement here, it's just something that has come so natural to me my whole life. I'm just the type of person who's always wondered where trash goes. That's not all there is to being eco-conscious, but it's definitely one aspect. I grew up in Arkansas ("the natural state") in a college town where recycling programs have been around since the late 80's. Side note: not all towns in Arkansas are like this, but where I grew up, this was the norm. I was always taught to "waste not want not", don't throw away things you can use (or someone else can use), and just because "it broke" you don't go get a new one. Now we live in a time where EVERYTHING is disposable or easily replaceable. Paper plates, napkins, towels, toilet paper, diapers, wipes, feminine products, plastic sandwich bags, cups, utensils, foil bake ware, tablecloths, bibs, I could go on and on...and don't even get me started on food packaging! These are now staples in our culture...people consider these items to be "must haves" when they run out. Don't people wonder where these things end up? Do they think trash magically disappears when the garbage man comes? Do they think the earth just breaks everything down and regenerates? I don't know...
I was talking to a friend the other day who was saying all of her children have to have "throw away" lunch items because one of her boys doesn't have enough time after lunch to go back to his locker to put his lunch box away, so he needs to be able to trash it. Of course, me being the good honest friend that I am (tee hee) I gave her a hard time! I brought to her attention how much waste she'd contributed to the landfills in just 1 year and the environmental impact that she had with just that 1 child. Now multiply that times 4 children, and 13 years! By the way, I would never "guilt trip" a complete stranger or even someone who might take it the wrong way, but this is a sweet friend who knows me and my sense of humor. Well... I might do it to a complete stranger, but not in the same way that I did it to her.
Now, let me clarify something. I do use disposable items. Yes, I do! But now I use them VERY sparingly. And I recycle...in a town with a mediocre recycling program. Yes, I keep piles or buckets of cardboard, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans (usually in my garage), load them in the van and drive them to the recycling station. I long for a day when the parish will actually provide recycling bins and pick them up for us on the trash route. But for now, this is as good as it gets, so it's what I do!
I am not a judgmental person, I usually see the best in people. There are so many people out there who are just plain unaware. Its up to us who are aware to show them (in a kind way) that there are other options out there! Cloth diapers are usually a "gateway" into this crunchy lifestyle because many families start with the intention of saving tons of money and then it spreads!