Thursday, May 31, 2012
June's Simply Living Challenge: Waste not, want not
This month's challenge is one I have been considering for some time. Now that television is switching over to digital I have wondered what will happen to all those analogue TVs. When I flush the toilet I wonder why we use precious drinking water to get rid of our waste. And what about all that toilet paper? Oh the trees, the trees! And if it is recycled - what about the resources it took to recycle it? As I take yet another plastic bag full of rubbish out to our green bin, I wonder how we can cut back. Hah - it has just occurred to me that it is funny that the bin is 'green' - because our town isn't. We don't have recycling bins. Is this the only town that doesn't?
And the word travesty comes to mind. A child who lives on a tip in a developing world would be horrified to see the waste I generate. I throw my kitchen 'scraps' in the bin for goodness sake. And why do I have so many scraps anyway? I am ashamed by my total lack of respect for what my waste could have been, other than landfill. I waste time. I waste money. I waste the world's resources. I waste my energy focusing on things that are trivial or not life giving. I waste, waste, waste.
Well I am declaring war on waste. I'm starting small, with baby steps, but I know those steps will mature into bigger steps as I grow more and more intentional in this area. So here are my first tentative steps today -
Step one: I am going to use the car less. Now that one is easy. I have just left my job so I don't need to get to work any more AND my car has conveniently died. It has been stranded down the road for the last few days, where it gave up the ghost. We are unsure about whether or not my 20-year-old plus car will be able to be resurrected. Either way I am going to use transport more wisely. We don't have public transport here so I will be walking, riding (perhaps - I have to confess I am scared to death of bike riding down a hill), catching a lift or sharing my husband's car, inviting people to my home and making good use of each trip to town.
Step two: I am a big tea drinker. When I boil the kettle I will use it immediately (instead of re-boiling) and I will cover it with a towel to keep the water warm, so I don't need to boil it so frequently. Maybe I will get myself a flask. I may even use a pot or kettle on my wood burner!
Step three: I will turn everything off at the wall.
Step four: I love this one - one candle lit night a week, when we try to do without electricity as much as possible and we focus more on one another. We have already started this. Dinner looks better (lucky thing as I am not a great cook). I am sure I look better to my husband too - that lovely soft glow! We congregate together in front of the fire and sleep comes easier. I can't help pretend that we are living inside Pride and Prejudice! My daughter and I think it's a lot of fun. I'm not so sure about the men.
Step five: Until I have a better solution I will cut down on my generation of scraps, and I will take what I do have to my friends who have hens.
Step six: I'm going to educate myself about this topic of waste. I have so much to learn. I will also read as much inspirational 'stuff' as I can. Today I started with writings from Wendell Berry and I have jumped right into Jen Hatmaker's book '7: an experimental mutiny against excess' starting half way in, at the month on 'waste'.
Step seven: I will waste less time on Facebook, and mindless trawling through the Internet. (I just noticed I have chosen seven steps - perhaps Jen Hatmaker is rubbing off on me already.)
I will finish with some words from Wendell Berry on waste. Mediate on them with me and let's see what we can do to make a difference.
...all of us, have become a kind of human trash, living our lives in the midst of a ubiquitous damned mess of which we are at once the victims and the perpetrators. We are all unwilling victims, perhaps; and some of us even are unwilling perpetrators, but we must count ourselves among the guilty nonetheless. In my household we produce much of our own food and try to do without as many frivolous “necessities” as possible — and yet, like everyone else, we must shop, and when we shop we must bring home a load of plastic, aluminum, and glass containers designed to be thrown away, and “appliances” designed to wear out quickly and be thrown away.