One Simple Thing: Picking Up Plastic Bottles

By Dan Wilcock

For the last couple months, I’ve picked up any plastic bottles I’ve encountered on my daily walks in Rockville and Silver Spring. This way they don’t flow into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This simple act refreshes my sense of being able to make a difference, no matter how small the scale. The idea isn’t mine; rather it was inspired by Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle by Jennifer Chambers, to which I was exposed—in photo essay format—at my daughter’s Sunday school.

It amazes me how plastic seems to bubble off of human beings when they aren’t paying attention. The discipline of picking up plastic bottles I come across (assuming they don’t look too icky—my microbiologist friend says watch out) helps me realize when I’m not paying attention myself. A big way I wasn’t paying attention before was drinking coffee from the K-cup dispenser at work. As Mother Jones magazine points out, these increasingly ubiquitous and convenient plastic pods are having a dramatic environmental impact. I now use a micro-filter tea strainer to steep green tea each morning, and I count each cup I drink as a plastic bottle picked up and saved from choking our landfills and waterways.

You can do this too, and I hope you join me in this one simple thing. My efforts are less than marginally impactful, collective efforts are a bit better, but what really counts is awareness.

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