Freedom of Choice


Choice is an incredible thing. But it can also be overwhelming at times. How many times have you been given a choice with so many options that you feel paralyzed with the choices, or that you are going to choose the wrong one? Imagine you are going to repaint your living room and being given the choice of red or blue; you have to go with one of them or neither of them. You’d probably have a pretty easy choice making a decision. But we’ve all been in the aisles of the home improvement stores, seen the paint displays, brought home those sample cards…There are thousands of options for blue: sky blue, robin’s egg blue, turquoise, cerulean, Aruba blue, Egyptian blue, Cosmic Blue, Blue Yonder, Pool Party (really?), Quiet Moments (I guess so…), Un-teal we meet again, How blue am I?, Gone Fishin’, Slumber, Ocean Sigh, Varsity Blues, Indi-go-go, Ol’ Blue Eyes, I’ve got the blues…You get the picture. How can you be sure that your choice of Sea Frolic is the best when two months later you discover that Perfectly blue is, in fact, the most perfect match for your living room‽  

What is wonderful about being given these choices is that we have the ability to choose the world in which we want to live. We can choose the companies with which we want to do business and that have policies we want to support. Every dollar we spend is a vote for the world we want to live in, and we have so much ability to change the world simply by being conscious of the choices we make with those dollars that we spend. 

If you want to live in a world in which there aren’t animals dying from swallowing plastic, then stop buying things with plastic on them. The next time you go to the grocery store, instead of going for the item that you always buy because you are used to getting it, and it’s convenient to get, take a look at all of the other options there. I’ll bet that there is an option of the same food item that is boxed in cardboard or glass from a different brand that would be easier to recycle. Instead of a plastic bottle of soda, juice, or water, see if there’s an option in a can, glass bottle, or if you can use a reusable bottle. When we make these decisions and show the companies what sells and what doesn’t, it affects how things are produced in the future.

Many people have said that they wanted to be more environmentally friendly but didn’t know where to start because it was overwhelming like in the example of all of the blue paints from earlier. It certainly can be; take a look in the homes of those that have made the switch to Zero Waste and you will be very quickly overwhelmed with all of the changes and feel like you can’t do all of those things (start a compost, make your own shampoo and toothpaste, make vegetable stock from scraps, buy things second hand, make your own bread, etc. etc.). The important thing to remember is to start small, no one made all of those changes in one day – they all started by simply looking for better choices in the grocery store, because we have the amazing FREEDOM of CHOICE, and we can CHOOSE to make a better world for ourselves. 

So I urge you all to take extra care with your choices this month and be conscious about your decisions. Can you look for food that’s packaging is cardboard instead of bagged? Do you need a plastic bottle? There has been a motto going around on Facebook and Instagram recently that some of you may have seen, but it bears repeating: We don’t need a handful of people doing Zero Waste perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.

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Becky Weeks, M.Sc., is a scientist and engineer turned non-profitpreneur with affiliations with University of San Diego, UC San Diego, University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami, and many more institutions of research and higher learning. Additionally, she has conducted environmental and wildlife research with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Seaworld Rescue, US Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Mammal Foundation, the US Navy Marine Mammal Program, and National Wildlife Federation, among others. Becky’s goal is to empower everyone to find the scientist in themselves and be curious about the world around them.