It’s not always about perfection
Updated: Jul 17
When the message comes from your heart, the presentation of a five-year-old can be just fine
Having been a scuba diver for a larger part of my life, I have seen too much plastic in our oceans. Because of this, I try to avoid single-use plastics as much as I can. I have this obsession with shopping bags and reusable water bottles. And while I don’t often purchase take-out coffee and hardly ever use straws, I still own a small selection of take-away coffee mugs and bamboo and metal straws. My commitment goes that far, that I don’t buy a coffee if there are no proper mugs and if I didn’t bring my own. And while I used to keep my first plastic cup on flights, re-using it for every drink instead of going through five to eight plastic cups per long haul flight, I recently started to hand over my old, battered Star Alliance mug to the flight attendant for every drink. I hate to be complicated, and I was worried I would receive an evil eye because of my request to not have a disposable plastic cup, but I actually earned some encouraging comments from flight crews.
My avoidance of plastic bags goes so far that I sometimes don’t have any on hand for my shoes when I pack my suitcase. And quite often I have to hold myself back at the supermarket checkout and not start an angry, “Really, do you need three plastic bags? Why can’t you bring your own?” conversation with other people.
I don’t want to attack people, but single-use plastic is just something I deeply resent, and the unawareness of that problem truly makes me sad. So, while I own a few cotton bags, I am also quite particular with what design they should have. Spreading the message while carrying a cotton bag is one thing, but having bags that attract attention, are colorful and funny, and also display the message itself is what I have been trying to find for quite some time now. Besides that, they need to be foldable so that at least two of them fit in my little handbag.
So, when I came across plain, perfectly foldable bags and some fabric colors the other day, my heart jumped. I could just create my own bags -- maybe not artistically sophisticated -- but definitely shouting out my message! I bought a few bags and some pens to draw on fabric and started preparing for my creative afternoon. I watched a few YouTube videos about the easiest way to draw animals. I came to the conclusion that most videos for 9 to 15-year-olds were too advanced for my drawing skills. But I found some for first graders, which made me feel up to the challenge. It also fitted my state of mind, as I was excited like a little girl about having found a way to flaunt my message about plastic bags in a polite and funny way.
And by sharing it here, I hope to inspire others to do the same. Just get a few kids from the neighborhood and help them make their own bamboo straws. Ask the tailor in your area how much it is to sew 50 plain cotton bags, and then get some fabric colors to decorate them. Be creative instead of perfect. And show the people around you how much you care about nature and how little it takes to make a difference.
It is quite obvious that becoming an artist is not a plan B for some extra income for me, even if I think the last hammerhead shark I drew deserves a star for the effort and improvement within two days of drawing. But sometimes it is not about perfection; sometimes it is simply about spreading a message. In this case, I am almost sure that my imperfect drawing style will cause more attention than if the art was flawless.
We don’t always have to be loud and aggressive to make others hear or see us. Sometimes we can just put a piece of our heart on a bag, a straw, a t-shirt, or a coffee mug. And putting our imperfection out there might put a smile on other people’s faces. So why not take a bit of the extra time we have now to tell people to save our planet. It might help save tourism too.
It would definitely put an enormous smile on my face if some friends and tourism and diving businesses joined in and shared their eco-friendly ideas, pictures, and projects in the comments or on my Facebook page!