Our recent trip to the Mid-Atlantic states revolved around the idea of freedom… America’s freedom from England, blacks’ freedom from slavery, the freedom immigrants came here in search of, and the freedom our soldiers have fought for.
We strolled through George Washington’s Mt. Vernon on the bank of the mighty Potomac in Virginia and saw the church where Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” We sat on a quiet wharf where slaves crossed the river to escape slavery in Maryland, and got to peek at the Declaration of Independence in Washington DC. We took a ferry to Ellis Island in New York City, where my grandpa and millions of others were greeted by Lady Liberty across the water. And we admired many war memorials along the way, with feelings of sadness, gratitude, and respect.
Contemplating the complex history of our freedom got me thinking about my own personal idea of freedom. We save money all year to be able to travel in the summer. We’re working our way through this beautiful country; the ultimate goal being to see all 50 states (we’re half way there!). The moment we embark on a trip is the moment I feel truly free. I’m with my family, venturing out into the world… going wherever we choose, whenever we want, with the windows down. I don’t have to go to work, clean the house, make lunches, get the kids to bed on time, or make sure they put their toys away. No time constraints or obligations, no working out, no diet, no checking email or going on Facebook. I love our daily life and routine (and I even love my job!), but getting away from it all puts me in a cherished state of mind that I don’t find anywhere else.
But how can I truly feel free when I’m carrying a cake pan around the city so I can get a no-waste bagel or washing smoothie remains out of a water bottle in the parking lot? Am I really “free” when I’m worried about going into a restaurant that might have paper plates and plastic utensils or when I’m wiping up nacho cheese sauce and melted fudge with a cloth napkin that I’ll have to carry in my bag until I can wash it at the hotel?
I can’t ditch Near-O Waste altogether, and I don’t even want to. But I can ditch a lot of it when we’re on a trip, to ensure my own personal liberty. After testing my travel kit for 23 days, some things didn’t feel worthy of coming along in the future. I won’t give up my water bottle, coffee mug, bamboo utensils, or reusable bag. But beyond that, when I’m traveling, I’m free.