Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ricola wrappers and tissue stuffing...and a flaw.

You guessed it- week one of trash in a quart and I got a nasty cold... And, I learned something: sickness creates unwanted trash! Now my bag, at a week's end is stuffed with cough drop wrappers, Klenexes (which  I've learned perhaps can be composted), and medicine wrappers (also learned that medicine like alkaseltzer for cold doesn't even really work). I tried to accept the challenge with no tissues on day one of the cold by using an old sock (I don't have a hankie). That quickly became rather gross and so I gave into "America's leader in facial tissue softness"....
Overall, I was thinking my baggie for a week was going pretty well. Everything besides flushed toilet paper and work trash (due to health department requirements I can't exactly be eco-friendly... but we'll see what more can be done on that note at a later time) was fitting into my bag. Then today I realized there has been a flaw in my plans. ..
I live in a house with 9 other people so we share all of our food (or most of it at least). So, some of the trash that I would normally consider "mine" I was subconsciously considering my housemates'. So, I go to the kitchen and grab a few chips. I don't finish the bag so I don't need to deal with the trash. BUT- if I was doing this project in a house all to myself.... that would be my trash, right? OOPS! So, needless to say, I'm now going to be spending the afternoon in the kitchen. You can recycle the box that cereal comes in, but not the bag inside the box; same with crackers. Chip bags usually aren't recyclable. So, here's to granola and cracker making!
Here's a photo.. even though I cheated a bit.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

In a quart

This Thanksgiving my friends and I gathered to eat a wonderful vegetarian meal. We began discussing very uplifting things such as wasting water, global warming, and trash. Someone referenced a story about Plastic-Filled Albatrosses (check out the link), and this really got me thinking about how much waste I produce and where it is going. So, out of these conversations and some more thinking I came up with a New Year's plan for myself. I will be putting all trash I accumulate over a week into a quart-sized zip-lock bag. That way, for one thing I can see what trash I use, and I can monitor, because I will only have limited space.

Thursday, Jan.3
I began on Tuesday,and this has been more challenging than expected! I've been researching what can be recycled much more frequently... did you know that you can't recycle Dixie cups? I have candy from Christmas that I wouldn't normally have.. Candy is wrapped in plastic and foil that can't be recycled, but I have the challenge of what to do with it... I put it in a bin on our kitchen table to share with my housemates. So, really I'm cheating a bit, but there trash isn't mine right? ;). Right now I have Q-tips, a band-aid wrapper(damn blister), a candy wrapper, and a receipt (you also can't recycle those). So, I'll check in again with a picture at the end of the week to report on how my project is going.

Just found this too:
recycle candy wrappers...


Lately I've been thinking about separation. It began a while ago when I was watering our garden out back. I was using water from the rain water catchment and because we live in the desert and rain water doesn't come daily, or even monthly for that matter, I was much more careful. I paid close attention to where the hose was, how much water each plant got and that I sprinted back to the catchment when the watering was complete. And then I thought, why am I only acting this way with the rain water? If I were using water from a faucet, why would I be more likely to waste? It's not as if there is a limitless supply of water in the world. And then I realized that i's because perhaps when I turn on a faucet I don't SEE where the water is coming from, or SEE i being depleted.
So, when I can't see the results of my actions or the source of my resources, it makes the usage less personal, and less important. Which is extremely unfortunate because the majority of our resources- food, water, oil- seem to come from nowhere- or at least somewhere unknown. And if I can squeeze a handle and fill p my gas tank and every time it works- here must be this land full of oil where happy people squeeze it into tubes that go straight into the pump to my car, right? Or, because I walk into a beautifully organized produce section at a grocery store, there must be carrots, peas, and apples grown next door and somehow magically reproduced by the thousands every week...? But obviously, even the most disconnected person would know this is not possible. But the problem is that we don't have to consider these things. Right now, most everything is at our finger-tips. We have such a strange "pleasure" to be separated from the sources of our needs and wants. But, just as I experienced with the water, when that separation occurs, we don't think, and we waste.
In the same way that we don't have to consider where things come from, we also don't see where things go when we are finished with our consumption. We have trash cans and drains, and garbage men and pipes that carry away our vast amounts of waste. But perhaps, if we had to be the source of our own staples, and decided what to do with our waste, we'd waste less and consume less. I think we'd find ourselves more connected- to each other because we'd inevitable have to work together, and to the earth- the firs source of all our being.