I am always amazed at how experiences in daily life allow me to realize things that I hadn’t before. I want to share a recent experience with you that allowed me to perceive a huge disconnect in the current mentality regarding the environment.
The other day I was having lunch at a local cafe I frequent. I have a good rapport with one of the cafe owners. As I was paying for my lunch at the counter, the owner was distracted by what was going on outside on the patio. My attention immediately went there as well. There was a wood stork standing next to an empty table. You can’t miss them. They are large wading birds about 3 feet tall with long legs and a hooked beak. When you are up close and personal with these birds, they can be a little intimidating. One of the waitresses had just cleared the table and as she came back in, she told us the wood stork stole a strip of bacon off a plate.
The owner looked at me and we both understood why this just happened. It isn’t unusual for people to feed the wildlife, so the birds know where to get a snack. The rule is you should never feed wildlife. They have plenty of food in the natural environment to eat. The owner was not happy by what just transpired and was visibly annoyed. She went on to tell me how her daughter shows her videos daily of birds tangled in line, wrapped in plastic, being thrown human food, etc. It was obvious that this upset her, and she was adamant about not feeding wildlife. I agreed with her.
Naturally, I thought this was a good time to ask her if the restaurant was getting ready to switch over to some other alternative items in their restaurant. Citing in the conversation that the city of St. Petersburg had just passed a new law in December of 2018 banning plastic straws and Styrofoam. She didn’t know anything about it. So, I started to add more details about the new law and why it was put into place. Immediately, however, I could see she was getting anxious.
I assured her that there was at least a year for part of the law to take effect. It was obvious that her thoughts were running fast and furious. So, again I stated that the law was not to punish business owners. It’s there to help the wildlife. Before I could say another word, she chimed in stating that businesses are not the ones that throw trash like straws, bags and Styrofoam on the ground, but people do. And people need to be educated on this subject matter.
I was a little taken back by her comments, but not surprised. The first thing that struck me was the disconnect. She understood the importance of not feeding wildlife and why plastic trash and litter is bad for the environment. Yet, she couldn’t see how as a business owner, she was providing the materials to her customers that would become litter. I tried to explain to her that more often than not trash isn’t intentionally placed into the environment.
There are lots of reasons why trash ends up in the wrong places, but that is a story for another day. Our discussion came back to education. Yes, education is a key part of keeping our planet clean and happy and that will always continue. But, it is just as important for everyone to do their part and take on the responsibility. All the education in the world won’t make people behave in ways that are in line with caring for our environment.
It is not enough to know and to see how we are all connected as individuals and to our planet. We must also, understand how each piece of the puzzle fits into the bigger scheme of things, and be willing to accept our part. When we must work collaboratively. We are all humans on this one planet we share. We need to work together to protect our natural resources as our lives literally depend on it.
Read Bah-Humbug to learn about my Christmas experiance.