Recently the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton swabs, straws and stirrers in an effort to reduce the pollution of our oceans. I’m sure you’ve all seen photos in the news of dead whales, their stomachs full of plastic garbage. These images have stayed with me, guilted me and made me wonder what I can do.
As a law firm owner, I have purchasing power that I can wield to make a difference. I’ve decided that in 2019, with my upcoming office expansion, I’m making a commitment to eliminate single-use plastic items entirely. Here’s my plan:
- Eliminate bottled water in favor of glasses and boxed.
- Replace plastic stirrers with wood (already done).
- Replace plastic cutlery with compostable cutlery. When my dishwasher is installed, I intend to eliminate these as well in favor of real silverware.
- Eliminate disposable cups and lids.
- Coffee — we purchase only 99% biodegradable K-cups.
Most of these changes involve a minor extra expense. Eliminating cutlery necessitates a dishwasher, for example. But I think that, in expanding the office, making such initial investments will pay off over time, if not right away. For myself and my firm, a marginal extra cost is worth it.
You, dear reader, may not have purchasing power at your firm. But you do have a voice. So consider asking management to make similar choices. Sometimes changes are hard to imagine, especially for firms and practitioners that have been doing things a certain way for a long time. Be the change!
Jessica Markham is the owner of Markham Law Firm, a family law firm in Bethesda.