I have a confession.
Last week, I drank bottled water from a single-use plastic bottle.
I didn’t mean to, but I was at choir practice, and I was really, really thirsty after all that singing, and we still had an hour of singing left. I forgot to bring my own reusable water bottle, and there was nary a water fountain in sight. The case of bottled water was just sitting there, pleading for parched singers to take one.
I couldn’t help myself….
The water was cool and refreshing, soothing my Beethoven-worn pipes. Yet as I walked back to take my seat in the rehearsal room, I felt a creeping sense of shame. How could I face the woman sitting next to me, after we had just had that nice conversation before rehearsal started about how I was so excited to be working for a great organization protecting our coast from pollution and marine debris?
As I sat down in my seat with a plastic single-use water bottle in my hand, I had to explain myself to the woman sitting next to me. “You know, I’m really kicking myself for not bringing a reusable water bottle to rehearsal tonight. I ran out of the office quickly and forgot to grab it. I just hate using these plastic bottles because they’re so bad for the environment and so many of them end up in a huge garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!”
My fellow soprano listened politely and nodded and then opened her score. She was judging me; I knew it! I promised myself I’d never forget my reusable water bottle again and hoped that I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself.
At the break during this Monday’s rehearsal, I ran into the woman I had sat next to the week before. To my surprise, she said to me, “Hey, I’ve been trying to cut down on using plastic water bottles since we talked about it last week!”
I was stunned… and then elated. Here I was, crushed, thinking that I was setting such a bad example. But what I hadn’t realized is that my momentary lapse in sustainable behavior gave me an opportunity to teach a new friend about the perils of single-use plastics.
So even if we can’t be perfectly sustainable all the time, we can still teach others about why sustainable practices are important.