Watch Your Language!

What are the environmental “bad words” to which society has become desensitized? I think “disposable” is one. We need to replace it with “reusable.”

By the time you read this post, we will have our long-awaited answer. Since November, we have been asking a question that has been asked literally billions of times in the history of the world, but it still feels so unique and personal when we ask it. And our anxiety is heightened by the knowledge that our answer, whatever it is, will impact the rest of our lives. As I write this, we need to only wait one more day before we finally know.

Tomorrow, we learn if our baby will be a girl or a boy.

Chantel and I have often been asked if we are hoping for one or the other. My wife answered that question perfectly the other day, so I’ll restate her answer here – we are hoping for whatever our child is.

Regardless, this moment will be one in a string of moments that fundamentally change our lives. We are now caretakers for another person, and the added responsibilities will only continue to grow. We welcome and feel blessed by the challenge.

I was reflecting on one of those responsibilities recently, specifically being mindful of the language we use around our child. Neither of us is prone to cursing, so I don’t envision it being a problem. But even beyond curse words, I’ve come to realize there are concepts from which I want to protect my young child. “Cruelty,” “torture” and “murder,” for instance, are words I only hope to explain to my child when he or she is old enough to truly understand the evil embedded in them. In a sense, they are as much “bad words” as curses are.

I believe it is unfortunate the extent to which our society has become desensitized to negative words. Slurs and other derogatory terms are common in music and films. Ad hominem attacks in the political realm have become not only ordinary, but expected. We bandy about the word “hate” so casually. Do we really hate that vegetable or shirt color?

So what are the environmental “bad words” to which society has become desensitized? I welcome your thoughts on this (remember we have a comments function below!), but let me start us off. I think “disposable” is one.

I know you didn’t ask for that plastic straw in your glass, but did you really need it? Perhaps we can ask our waiters to “hold the straw” when we order a drink, rather than use it for 30 minutes and then send it to the landfill for hundreds of years. And I get that using disposable plates for a dinner party simplifies clean up, but unfortunately we can’t really “throw things away.” Where is “away” on a map? And don’t even get me started on bottled water. Carrying around a canteen is a pretty easy thing to do.

So let’s replace “disposable” with “reusable” in our collective language. I bet we can make this world a little bit better if we do.

How about it? What are some other environmental bad words?