If I went around and asked people what does being eco-friendly mean, most people would probably say that it means being conscious about the planet and reducing overall contamination. While this is great, as one of the biggest nations, we fall short of the advances other countries have when it comes to being conscious about our planet.
During a recent trip to Costa Rica, I saw how the population over there is not only educated when it comes to being eco-friendly but also seemed to have support from the government. One of the strangest things I encountered over there was that no coffee shop, restaurant, or even bar offered straws unless you asked for it. Even then they would kindly ask you to return the straw to be disposed of in a special way. This was no joke to the people of Costa Rica.
Another curious thing about Costa Rica is that they have recycling bins everywhere even in the most random places, such as bathrooms. I think this says something about their culture as a whole, which is why when I was over there I stopped asking for straws and used the recycling bins accordingly. I think it was only fair of me to collaborate, even as a tourist. But that left me wanting the same for the country I call home.
When I came back to the US I realized that we are nowhere near close to being as eco-friendly as people in Costa Rica, and then I asked myself why. Is it because we are so used to the commodity of disposing of things when they don't serve us anymore? Is it because we are lazy? Is it because we are not educated? Is it because we need the government to be more involved in regulating laws that benefit the planet?
I'm sure some cities and states in the US might be more eco-friendly than others, but it shouldn't be that way. We as Americans pride ourselves on being one of the leading countries, but we fall short of how other countries deal with ecological issues.
Yet I don't think this is because we are not educated. After asking myself those questions, I came to the conclusion that we are just used to being and doing what is comfortable for us. The commodity in the US is one of the best, yet worst things, because we only do so little of what makes us put in more effort.
Perhaps if we started small, being eco-friendly would slowly but surely become a habit. What if instead of asking for a straw we drank out of the cup? What if instead of grabbing multiple napkins we only grabbed what we need? What if we tried to reduce our waste disposal individually? These things would not only make a small difference but could possibly make the corporate world shift as well.
We as consumers have the chance of communicating how we want successful companies to behave by the small choices we make. As a young generation, we have the power to vote in favor of candidates who are eco-friendly themselves and who have not only the best intentions for the country but also our planet.
It's about time we also become one of the leading nations in how we care for the planet and not only how much money do we generate.