Collins Dictionary, published by HarperCollins in Glasgow, may not be as familiar to many Americans as the old reliable Merriam-Webster. That’s not to say Collins doesn’t have the pulse of our vernacular. NPR reports that Collins is singling out “single-use” as the definitive term for 2018, and it’s an appropriate choice.
As most of us are aware, the planet is drowning in plastic waste and is in dire need of different environmental efforts. The term “single-use,” according to Collins, helps highlight “a global movement to kick our addiction to disposable products. From plastic bags, bottles and straws to washable nappies, we have become more conscious of how our habits and behaviors can impact the environment.”
It’s a good reminder to all of us, as we may make an effort in some single-use efforts but not in others. My family has used the same reusable (and frankly, disgusting) grocery bags for years. We have about a half-dozen reusable water bottles circulating through various backpacks and back seats. I have tried to go without straws when I’m out, or embrace the unfamiliar paper type. But yesterday at our Wednesday office staff lunch (a weekly feeding frenzy), yes, I absolutely grabbed the plastic cutlery just like I do every frickin’ week. Why?
Early 2019 new year’s resolution: Bring a set of silverware from home to keep in my desk, for god’s sake. Or even in my bag. At this point, there are so many reusable and multi-purpose options available at The Container Store, or even Target, I don’t know why we’re defaulting to single-use anything anymore (although with twins, I probably would have had an issue with reusable diapers. Thank god those days are past).
Collins’ shortlist for other 2018 words included “floss” (referencing what my kids like to call “the backpack dance,” which resembles flossing your teeth); “gammon,” “to describe a large, self-satisfied, middle aged man who professes an extreme patriotism in large part to disguise his essential selfishness and corruption”; and another environmental effort, “plogging,” which integrates picking up litter into your usual jog around the neighborhood.