A cupcake is supposed to be something enjoyable in life. It is not supposed to be the bane of your existence or something that causes you many sleepless nights and elicits hostile comments from strangers on Facebook.
No, I'm not dieting -- that's not why a cupcake managed to ruin my life last week; rather, it was handed to me in an excessively large plastic container.
Since making my environmental documentary Tapped and seeing the people affected by the production of plastic as well seeing where plastic ends up (the ocean) I've tried to eliminate as much plastic from my life as humanly possible.
Not only was my red velvet cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop handed to me in this "excessively large plastic container," but when I finished said cupcake and asked the gentleman who served us if he could please put my plastic container in the recycling bin he told me, "we don't recycle."
I took to the Crumbs Bake Shop Twitter and Facebook page urging them to switch their packaging to 100% recycled cardboard. Hours later I received a Facebook alert that someone had commented on my post. What I EXPECTED was outrage from my fellow cupcake fans -- perhaps a call to boycott or a cupcake moratorium even. Instead I received the following comment:
"If people don't like the plastic just don't shop there then."
She's right in a way -- I'm a big fan of personal accountability; in fact it's one of the biggest messages in Tapped. And while I can personally choose to solicit Sprinkles Cupcakes (no plastic) over Crumbs Bake Shop (Boo! Hiss!) that still won't spare the rest of us from having to see everyone's plastic wash up on our beaches.
You see, we're all kind of in this thing together. If I choose to drive an old clunker of a car, you still have to breath the polluted air that results from that. If I spit my gum on the sidewalk, you may be the one that gets it stuck on their shoe. If I use excessive amounts of water to wash my car and take long showers you'll still be the one that gets put on a water advisory.
Personal responsibility is great but it's not enough -- at the end of the day your trash becomes my trash.
I'm not suggesting that one person can't make a difference anymore -- on the contrary. Often times I think many of us are so intimidated by the scope of a problem that we do nothing because we think we can't make a difference. A fundraiser for a nonprofit group once said to me, "Imagine if everyone who cared gave just one dollar -- think about how many millions of dollars we could raise!"
And she was right -- so often we don't give because we think we can't give enough. We don't volunteer because we don't want to commit, we don't vote because we don't think it matters.
When did so many of us start to think we couldn't make a difference anymore? And more frightening -- who are we trusting to take care of things for us?
Again -- we're all sort of in this thing together. So while it may be annoying to go back to your car to grab your reusable bag, or bring your own mug with you to Starbucks - think about what our world could be like if EVERYONE was doing it. Imagine if we stopped thinking in terms of "me" and started thinking of "we."
Collectively we have the power to change almost anything we want. Somewhere along the line media has brainwashed us into thinking we are merely cogs in some great big wheel. But guess what? We actually ARE the wheel! We, as consumers dictate the marketplace. We vote everyday with our dollars. If we change our buying habits we can literally change the world.
And so perhaps now you can see why a cupcake managed to ruin my life for a week. If it was just ME that didn't get to recycle an "excessively large plastic container" chances are I wouldn't have been too upset. But because WE all are faced with excessively large plastic containers every day the problem is far larger than just one cupcake.
Maybe if we all became a little more conscience about the things we buy we could make things just a little less crumby for the rest of us.
In honor of World Ocean's Day, our documentary Tapped will donate $5 of every DVD sold to the non profit group Oceanic Defense . Visit www.tappedthemovie.com and enter the promo code "Defense" when you check out, and $5 will go directly to OD.
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Follow Stephanie Soechtig on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@tappedthemovie