Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Opt In For Plastic

By Andrewtix

Last Friday, as my 15-year-old and 13-year-old daughters and I made our celebratory end-of-schoolyear treck to Barnes and Noble for fancy coffee and 1 book of their choice (hopefully to encourage summer reading), we went to Home Depot to buy a few items for summer house projects. As usual, the cashier started putting the items into a plastic bag and, as usual, I said we didn’t need a plastic bag. This started a conversation that lasted the rest of the car ride between my daughters and I about environmental sustainability and an article I had just read in the Star Tribune that morning about Canada banning single-use plastics. I don’t remember whose thought it was, but we had a collective idea that, rather than relying on individuals to decrease consumption, behavior would be more likely to change if the situation changed, and if customers had to “opt in” for plastic, rather than always “opt out.” This, after all, is just good Social Psychology. I thought of Dan Ariely’s popular TED talk in which he discusses how organ donation is greatly impacted by whether individuals have to opt in or opt out, something that varies widely by country. Anyway, I suggested we write our little idea up to the Star Tribune in the form of a letter to the editor, and they published our letter this morning! Not only am I pleased to raise this issue to readers’ consciousness just a bit, but I’m very excited to present the physical newspaper to my daughters this morning, to have them see their names in print, and hopefully inspire a little more civic engagement in their lives.


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