The Last Straw?

gray and green turtle swimming on water
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When I am in a fast food restaurant, I get a soda of whatever size and I put a cap on it and a straw in it. When I’m through, I often throw the cup, cap and straw away without a second thought. It is amazing to me that I take such little things as being a usual part of at least my weekly, if not daily, life. For a while now, I have been taking the cups home with me to rinse and recycle. (Don’t get me started on how many recyclables I see in restaurant trash…)

Lately, I have started taking my own straws into restaurants, fast food and otherwise. Why? Well, it’s because I saw the video of the sea turtle with the straw being extracted from its nose. It was a gruesome sight complete with blood and a very unhappy animal wincing in pain.

The video is a testament to the literal pain felt by our planet and its other inhabitants when we almost mindlessly toss things away. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, silverware, tires, the list goes one. Almost anything found in a landfill eventually ventures into the lives of wildlife.

In some cases, it goes into waterways and eventually the ocean where seaturtles like the one in the video, and other sea life, have close encounters of the awful kind. There is even a huge whirlpool of sorts in the Pacific Ocean that just circulates lots of accumulated trash and plastic on the surface. Eventually, some of it sinks to the bottom to affect the life going on there as well.

I want to reduce this pain, hence the bringing my own straws into restaurants. But there is more I and others like me can do. For instance, there is the “Give a Sip” movement that will send you a reusable paper straw to use instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones destined for landfills, etc. Stainless steel reusable straws are also available from various organizations for the same purpose.

I feel like we need to be more active and purposeful in our acknowledgement of the effects of our actions on those around us, and by this I mean not just humankind. If something as simple as a changing my straw can help to bring about a somewhat better life for a fellow creature, then why not try it? As the saying goes, “no skin off my nose” and alot less off his.


A Purpose for Pill and Prescription Bottles

doctor medicine tablets pills
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One day, I was minding my own business, scrolling through what friends had posted on Facebook and there it was. There among all the cat videos and friend updates was an interesting and thought-provoking video article. Now I am certainly not saying that my friends don’t post interesting things, much to the contrary. But somehow this one struck me, perhaps because it involved recycling and reusing things.

This article was about sending old prescription bottles to Malawi. It seems that when people in this African country have to get pills and prescriptions, they often have had to carry them in their hands because there are not bottles available. And I don’t know about you, but lately I seem to be collecting prescriptions, and bottles at what seems to me an alarming rate. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come, but I digress.

An organization called the Malawi Project set about collecting and shipping off used prescription bottles, and, between March and November of last year, they managed to send over 2 million bottles. The Post Office was running two and three pickups to the main facility outside Indianapolis. The organization finally stopped operations around Thanksgiving with final shipments going out earlier this year for last-minute donors.

Malawi, one of the least developed African nations, now has over 2 million pill containers, given by people who would otherwise have considered them trash, or perhaps something to be recycled. These are particularly useful and ultimately life-saving items and chances are they will be used over and over again by people in this impoverished country.

Something as seemingly simple and everyday as a pill container could indeed save, or at least change someone’s life halfway around the world. It truly proves the adages that “little things mean a lot’ and “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

As mentioned in the website listed below (under Resources):

“Though the Malawi Project’s initiative has ended, there are plenty of other ways that you can clear out your collection of orange containers and still help people in the process.

*Peel the labels off and send your pill bottles to an international outreach program, such as Matthew 25: Ministries or Samaritan’s Purse (the latter of whom are looking for everything from hospital gowns to lightly used defibrillators, in addition to medicine bottles).

*Contact an animal hospital or ASPCA near you to see if they could use some pill bottles stock for pet medicines. (And remind me to tell you that story sometime about my chinchilla’s morphine addiction.)

*Reach out to your local community health center or homeless shelter to find out if they’re accepting donations. Because as cool as it is to think of your used medicine bottles making a difference all the way across the world, you might have neighbors who could use the help as well.”

I think I will continue minding my own business, with Facebook and other outlets, because it may lead to other ways to help other people improve their lots, their lives and their outlooks.

Resources :