Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tales of Travel: Part 2- The Map is not the Territory- by Lauren Campbell Kong

(This is a continuation of another post I wrote a few days ago: click here to read Part 1 of this story.)

Traveling to Texas to visit on old friend was quite the experience. While visiting, I noticed that the sustainability movement doesn’t really have any steam, at least where we were staying in Texas it didn’t.

I didn’t see any signs or advertisement for any ‘green’ companies or environmentally friendly options. I was surprised to see such a lack of environmental awareness, but nonetheless my cup and I had a blast. It was hot, so my cup was very useful and for the most part, I was able to fill him up in most locations, keeping my hydration levels up after arriving.

I’m sure my reusable cup's experience was a bit different than mine:

Lauren and I had a wonderful time in Texas. It was great to experience the Texan culture; it is so different than Indiana.
Lauren's friend Jennifer was sweet and welcomed me with open arms and it was because of her that I got to experience a dishwasher for the first time. Lauren and Jin do not own a dishwasher, so I was a little scared.  I was clean as could be, but my straw got bent a little bit. I think the hot water was just too much but my straw is working fine. Thank you for caring.
There was one day Lauren and Jennifer went to an amusement park. I went along for the ride, but when we got there I wasn’t allowed in the park; I had to stay in the hot car. When they came back a few hours later I heard Lauren complaining about how many plastic cups they used for water. It was extremely hot that day with the temperature reaching 107 degrees and there were a lot of people who needed water. When Lauren thought about how many plastic cups she and Jennifer used, multiplied that by half the amusement park population, and then multiplied that by other amusement parks in the country. . . well, you can imagine for yourself the number of plastic cups used that day was enormous; even Jennifer was surprised. Lauren also said there were only a few recycling bins in the park and that more should be available, especially with so many soda machines dispensing 20oz bottles all day long.

She and I noticed a lack of environmental awareness in the area where we stayed. Sustainability and other green philosophies were not popular. We took a trip to Wal-Mart there. Lauren noticed there weren’t any people using their own bags and the plastic bags available weren’t made from recycled plastic like back home (you can tell because the gray bags are made from recycled material, while the white ones are not). While walking through Wal-Mart, I did see some shelves of other reusable cups. We tried to convince her friend Jennifer to purchase one and to use it frequently, but alas, she wouldn’t. They were all pretty though, with bright colored grips and matching straws! Lauren had to talk herself out of a second one. I was happy with this decision, I like having Lauren all to myself.

After Wal-Mart we stopped at a gas station, a 7-11, to get gas. Lauren took me in to fill me up with water, but the soda machine didn’t even have an option for water. It did have an option for all different types of flavored sugary syrups though. Lauren couldn’t believe it. If you wanted water, you had to purchase bottled water. She filled me with ice and then left the gas station grumpy.

The next morning we were headed back to Indiana. I felt more comfortable traveling this time around. At the airport I did notice that there weren’t any recycling bins. Lauren went to empty me, so that I could get through security, and there were several plastic bottles in the trash can. They were all lying there looking so sad and there was no recycling bin in sight; Lauren couldn’t help them even if she wanted to.

Once we got through security and after that awful x-ray machine, I realized that I was looking forward to getting back into my routine. I forget how much I enjoy sitting with Lauren while she writes on her computer. I also like the company of the cats and the dog. I know we don’t interact often, but the dog will occasionally give me a good sniff or two and he is really good about knowing if we are going to leave and go somewhere; his excitement is contagious.

After having some plane travel under my belt, I feel more confident in my traveling skills. I know that I can now handle sitting in different cup holders during car rides and don’t mind being smashed into the magazine holder while on a plane and I survived the Atlanta airport, which from what I hear is a feat in and of itself.  Lauren is talking about another trip in a couple of weeks. Jin will also be going, which means his cup will be joining us. I always enjoy the time I get with my companion cup and Lauren is always happier when Jin is around. I am looking forward to having another adventure and assessing the approach that local communities take toward the sustainability movement. I will be sure to keep you all posted!

Good-bye for now!

It was because of traveling this summer and taking my cup everywhere that I created our adventures through his eyes. Many of my friends have begun to reference my cup as “Lauren’s Wilson” (from the movie Cast Away). I should probably find a name for him because it seems he will be around awhile. I hope that through the years, as I begin the small steps to lower my environmental impact, my cup and I have many adventures and that we are both able to step out of our own experiences and enjoy each other’s; it is by looking through a different lens that we are able to change and to grow and I want to accomplish this by changing the way we look at a sustainable world.

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