Bringing Source Reduction to the Farmer's Market - by Diya Heal
Diya and Richard at the farmer's market booth
Diya and Richard at the farmer's market booth
In February, I became the Pacific Northwest regional coordinator for the plastic source reduction campaign. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In March, new recycling protocols were announced in my county. We were told because of China’s National Sword Act the only plastic we could recycle were bottles #1 and #2. All other plastic will go in the landfills. By default, I knew much of it would end up in the ocean. Until that announcement, I was blissfully ignorant to the fact that our recycling was being shipped to China. I was devastated when I found out and thought others must be feeling that way too. I knew I had to something to raise awareness and try and help my community.

I was inspired with the idea to host a booth at my local farmer’s market to talk to people about single-use plastics. I had no idea how I was going to do this, how it would all get done or how it would come together. I just started putting one foot in front of the other trusting I would be guided. I asked the farmer’s market manager if I could host a booth on single-use plastics and he was so happy! He didn’t charge me for the booth and gave me a prime location within the market. The next thing I knew I was making signs and gathering materials. My husband Richard felt inspired to create a simple website for the community (with no affiliation) to reach as many people as possible with simple source reduction resources, facts and suggestions. caringforourplanet.com was launched Friday March 30th.

Educational signs and posters at farmer's market Educational signs and posters at farmer's market Educational signs and posters at farmer's market
Educational signs and posters in the source reduction booth at farmer's market

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On the 31st I showed up at the farmer’s market with all my signs and props and a handout for people with resources, links and suggestions. Up until that moment I had been led by my heart. Now that the moment had arrived, my mind kicked in and I became fearful. Would anyone come to my booth? Would it be well received? Would people think I was crazy? What did I think I was I doing? As I became aware of what my puny little ego was trying to do, I took a deep breath, smiled and remembered the results weren’t up to me. My only job was to show up and be the light.

Hosting this booth was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I spoke to so many people in the community who were feeling discouraged and weren’t sure what to do. I reminded them that any small change would have a huge impact. People were open and grateful and willing to make at least one or two changes to reduce their plastic footprint. I also had some savvy people in the community give me great ideas for ways to reduce my own footprint even further. I realized later that evening I probably shouldn’t have laminated my signs as they couldn’t be recycled that way! As I make mistakes and gain new awareness myself, it makes me more compassionate toward others for where they’re at on their journey.

The day after the farmer’s market I was in the car driving, wondering if anything I had done the day before had made a difference. Just then I pulled into the drive-through of my local coffee shop to place my order. The owner popped his head out and said, "Two people you talked to at your booth yesterday just came by a few minutes ago to get their coffee and they each bought a Hydroflask to put it in! They said your booth really made them think of what they could do to make a difference." This process has really instilled in me the truth of Amma’s words, "Instead of cursing the darkness, let each one of us light a small lamp."



Do you have a personal story to tell about how you are working to address the problem with plastic? Send it in (preferrably with photos) to info@greenfriendsna.org

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