Imagine the world without anger, without greed. We have the power, the tools, the skills and the resources right now to build a peaceful world, where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. This blog explores ways we are doing just that, one post, one change, one day at a time. Join me. Tell your stories. Ask for help. Spread your ideas for making the vision real and, well, ordinary.

Monday, May 3, 2010

War on Garbage: What is all that junk, anyway?

Recycling and waste bin - One week's accumulation
One week's waste accumulation
© L. Kathryn Grace
The first step in my personal war on garbage is to figure out what it is we're pitching. You can get a pretty good idea here.









There's a lot of paper, a lot of thin cardboard--the kind that cereal comes in and paper towels are rolled on, the occasional can or bottle, and lots of bits of plastic. Right on top, you can see the bag that held the frozen peas we had with our dinner last night.

First off, I should tell you, we've been reducing our waste contribution for some time. Just five years ago, we filled a 10-1/2 gallon trash canSimple Human Trash Canalmost every week, in addition to stuffing the recycling basket. Back then, we curb-cycled the large trash can (it disappeared in minutes) and acquired the 2.3 gallon version shown above, which we empty once a week. So in that time frame, we've reduced our landfill contribution by a minimum of 8.2 gallons per week. That's the good news.

But how can we reduce our throwaways and recyclables even more?


Stop the junk mail

First on the agenda: Stop the junk mail. We got rid of almost all of it a few years ago, but somehow we've managed to get on a whole lot of lists again, despite always hitting the opt-out button whenever we donate to a worthy cause or subscribe online.

In the last several weeks, my sweetie and I have been calling the businesses, non-profits and political organizations that send us junk mail and telling them to stop. Most are polite, take down our information, and assure us they will remove our names from their mailing lists. The credit card companies are the most difficult to deal with. After listening to seemingly endless menu choices, and pressing numerous buttons between, sometimes we end up back where we started. You know how that goes. Eventually, we get through to a human who claims they will take us off their list. In every case, the live reps tell us it will be six to ten weeks before we stop seeing their mailings. For some of those organizations, that's one or more fat envelopes every single week.

I'll let you know in a couple of months how well this worked.


Buy in bulk--Take reusable containers

Second step: Decide right now we're not going to buy anything in a box, can or plastic bag we can buy in bulk at the organic grocer a few blocks away. And we'll take our own reusable containers to hold the goods. That will eliminate most of those flattened food boxes and some of the plastic bags. We already buy most of our cereal, grains, nuts, and other dry foods in bulk at our local organic grocer. The problem is, all too frequently, when we're out of an item and in a hurry, we will stop at our corner grocery and bring home a box of cereal or a plastic bag of rice. The cereal boxes can be recycled, of course, but those plastic bags that hold rice, pasta and frozen vegetables cannot.

This will take a concerted effort. I need to talk to my sweetie about that and see if I can get a commitment. I'll let you know how that goes, too.

That's two good steps to move us further down the track. I'm working on a third today and will tell you more about that in the next post.

We're a long way, in our household, from the model of Ordinary, where nothing is wasted. The fictional people of Ordinary, like the very real people of Ladakh, waste absolutely nothing. Perhaps things have changed today, with the influence of Western culture, but when Helena Norberg-Hodge first visited the Ladakh in the 70s, there were no landfills, no unsightly dumps.

No ugly geometry had been imposed on this land, no repetitive lines. Everything was easy to the eye, calming to the soul.


This is the goal. Can you see it? Can you visualize a world in which we all care so tenderly for the earth and each other that we waste nothing, that everything we see is easy to the eye, calming to the soul?

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We make peace in a million small ways every day.

All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.
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1 comment:

Wanda said...

I don't see it as clearly as you do, but I like the idea.

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