No Pain, No Gain

Plastic water bottles are bad. I’m assuming you know this. It’s one of those well-known, undisputed facts that we acknowledge, accept, and endeavour to respect. As long as it’s convenient. And we’re not really thirsty. Because that’s very uncomfortable. To be so thirsty.

No pain, no gain. You’ve heard this one before. An age-old slogan for improvement. It’s been around for decades and is generally applicable to a variety of challenges. It’s chiselled many a physique from flab to fab and guided us through everything from sleep training our babies to taking entry-level jobs that leave us blushing. If we want something good, we must hurt to get it. Until recently. When people began asking, “is all this suffering really necessary? Is it possible to achieve everything we desire in a more comfortable, less painful way?”

In certain circumstances, I think the answer is yes. We can make pain-free improvements. We can be fit without drinking raw eggs and doing a thousand sit-ups at 5 am. We can get the baby to sleep without letting her cry herself to exhaustion. I couldn’t find a way around my job as a pooper-scooper at the vet clinic, though. That happened. But, when it comes to our environment and the damage we’re inflicting on it, can we find a minimally inconvenient approach to saving the world? Sorry, but I think not. The time for mild behaviour adjustments has passed. We have to get down and dirty and roll up our sleeves before it’s too late. No pain, no gain. 

I have good news. Help awaits. The future is bright, brilliant, and eager to join us as we clean up our environmental mess. I witnessed it first hand at The Fernie Academy science fair. Students were asked to improve on the design of a product that affects the environment. They had some very cool ideas. Young minds full of momentum, clear of bad habits, looking for better ways to do things. They’re taking the research that our generation of scientists has been warning us about for decades and they’re saying, “Hey, this is bad. Let’s fix this.”

Emerson Zimmerman and Leah Soetaert are two of these very special kids. They’ve designed a new water bottle made completely from Bamboo. I hold it in my hand. It’s streamlined and funky looking and I can picture it on the desk of everyone who works at Google. I want one. As I compliment them on their stylish design they tell me all the scary facts about plastic water bottles bursting from our landfills and oceans. They show me how much oil it takes to make one small water bottle. I’ve heard a lot of these facts before, but somehow, coming from these young faces with their bright eyes, it affects me. Deeply. It’s their world to inherit and maybe I need to get a little uncomfortable to help them fix it. Even if I’m thirsty and those plastic water bottles are so convenient. Even then.

The solutions are at our fingertips. Leaders in the Green movement residing right in our own community are screaming out for support. The Facebook site Kootenay.eco is a great place to find out what you can do. Eliminate single-use plastics like bottles and straws and bags. Buy products with less packaging. Can we eliminate plastic completely? Probably not. But how many times do you peel the unnecessary extra layer of plastic from something and put it straight in the garbage? Emerson and Leah quoted a Guardian article to me stating that only 7% of the materials we recycle are actually reused as something else. They think that’s bad. So do I. Let’s fix it.

The Inconvenient Truth is, this is going to take some work. We have to feel the pain to gain a clean, sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy. Try to remember your reusable bags when you go to the store. Buy products in bulk if you can. Say no to straws. Tote a reusable water bottle around with you and fill it up from the tap. We owe it to Emerson and Leah to try harder. Thank you, in advance. From the future.