Annie's Quest, Part 1: Parenthood, Plastic-Free

ANNIE’S QUEST: PART 1

VENTURING INTO PARENTHOOD, PLASTIC-FREE

By Cynthia Carbone Ward

Since you can’t fix everything, you finally have to pick one thing and begin. Even if it’s a big thing that seems insoluble, you act as if it isn’t. You imagine how it could be. And if it requires a million tasks, you try tackling one of the million. You do your best. That’s why we want you to meet Annie Rothschild, a new mother whose commitment to reducing the daunting problem of plastic pollution is earnest and inspiring. It’s time for a glimpse of someone young and idealistic, still at the start of her journey, but thinking long term, little by little, and not losing faith.

When Annie discovered she was pregnant, she decided to turn it into an environmentally conscious journey. She had long been concerned about the harmful effects of plastic on the planet and human health, but impending parenthood intensified her sense of mission. Expecting a baby does that. You feel vested in the future in a profoundly personal way. You want with all your heart to set good forces in motion.

Annie is a musician who plays upright bass for a band called Nocona (“Americana rock and roll music”) and has also worked for about ten years as a wardrobe specialist and makeup artist for film, television, and photo shoots. In other words, her life is hectic, and she readily admits that her pregnancy, which occurred while she and her fiancé were still in the midst of planning their wedding, was an accident. “It’s very exciting, but we definitely got thrown off course a bit,” she said. “So here I was planning a wedding, interviewing midwives, trying to figure out what we’ll need for the baby, and trying to do it all plastic-free.”

How does one do it plastic-free? Annie is actively involved with the Plastic Pollution Coalition and hopes to find some answers to share with others. She knows it won’t be easy. “Once you open your eyes and see the plastic all around you, it’s overwhelming,” she admits. “It’s in every grocery store, all the beauty products, all the toys and baby stuff. It’s everywhere.”

“And the truth is that people don’t know how bad plastic is. It’s such a lightweight, clear, seemingly easily disposable item that it seems like it doesn’t have a heavy environmental impact, but it’s the opposite. So through organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition that I’m a part of, we’re trying to educate people, and we’re also just trying to figure things out and come up with alternatives, and I want to be involved and help out. It’s become a passion of mine, and it’s never going away. I’m obsessed, basically. Hopefully in a healthy way.”

Annie may be obsessed, but she’s not naïve. “Even for someone like myself, I’ve tried so hard never to buy it, and I generally don’t, but sometimes you’re stuck in some kind of situation…” She laughs. “I feel like I’m confessing. But immediately eradicating plastic from your life would be very difficult. Maybe the key is to just try to do a little bit better than you did yesterday. Yeah, even a little bit better is still great.”

If we resolve to do a little bit better, starting wherever we happen to be, then little by little, who knows what we can achieve? One of the first opportunities Annie perceived was to bridge the music community and the environmental community. At the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee, she helped develop a pilot project called Plastic Free Touring that demonstrated how musicians could reduce their plastic footprint on the road, and it’s making a difference.

The idea is to look around in your own life and see what spheres of influence you have, what connections you can make, what platforms you can use. Whether within schools, offices, or community organizations, it may come as a surprise to realize how much you can help shape an event and gradually change a culture.

Our own individual habits are of course crucial as well. Annie intends to make careful choices throughout her pregnancy and into parenting that are consistent with her knowledge, values, and passion. She’s just beginning, and she’s humble about it, and she would love to hear about the experiences of others.

So this is the start of Annie’s quest, part one in a series. We hope you’ll join us.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Annie's journey.