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, June 21, 2010

War on Garbage skirmishes: Some wins, some losses

Losses this week:
Paper Towels, Food in plastic, beverage bottle
Image © L. Kathryn Grace
Sometimes my War on Garbage feels more like a sputter. We've had a few successes. The failures are the gold mines, though, because they point the way to next steps. Here's a recap of this week's wins, losses and challenges.
Win: Since declaring the war on garbage on April 22, we've emptied our 2.3 gallon kitchen trash bin twice. (We used to empty it at minimum once a week.) It's about three-quarters full right now. Sometimes a win is in what we didn't do!
Win: I've discovered a passel of recipes for making my own no-rinse shower cleaner, (That is a biggie!), hand and body lotion and much more. As I try them out, I'll report on their success (or not) here and provide links.
Loss: I left my filled water bottle sitting on the kitchen table when I rushed out the door for a weekend trip and was forced by need and thirst to buy a bottle of tea at the train station. Sure, I reused the bottle all weekend, but geesh! Water bottle. That's Reduce 101.
Loss: Our dear foster grand-kitty is ailing. At sixteen, and with a long-term kidney ailment, she's overdue for her final stage. This week we bowed to convenience and bought two rolls of non-recycled, extra absorbent paper towels to deal with the messes.
Loss--Maybe: After searching the web and my local green haunts, I've found not a single supplier of witch hazel in glass bottles. (See War on Garbage: Easy, inexpensive homemade skin toner cuts waste.) I'm holding out for one slim possibility--a small organic company whose sales staff have yet to respond to my inquiries.
Continuing challenges: Plastic bags and bathroom waste. We've cut back, but I still have to empty the bathroom trash a couple times a week, and I'm constantly amazed at the myriad ways plastic bags come into our lives. I've included a couple I'm not quite ready to ditch in the image above.

Slow and steady

We're taking our journey one piece of trash, one decision, one success, one failure, and one day at a time. We're learning from others who are living consciously and writing about it on the web and from you, who show us what you are doing on your blogs and in comments here. Leave one today, won't you? Not only are your experiences--successes and failures--important. They are valuable.

Looking forward, looking back

Tomorrow, I'll give you a taste of the pristine valleys of Ladakh and set the stage for exploring how the Ladakhi managed their waste for centuries--before we introduced our more-is-better, throw-away, tear-on-the-dotted-line values. Sometimes progress, and building a more Ordinary world, requires looking back and reclaiming the best of what we had before the industrial revolution.
Have a wonderful week, everyone!
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


mrs green @ said...

Sorry to hear about your kitty - we went through the same 8 months ago and yes, you have to give into convenience at these times. Your energy should be with your feline friend, not spent washing reusable cloths.
Can't wait to hear how the home made lotions and potions turn out; making your own is a lot of fun and very rewarding.
Too bad about the witch hazel; you can only buy it in glass over here....
I hear you on not being prepared to give up things, but when you're feeling experiential, give chappattis a go ;)

Hayden said...

Here, on my hungry 10 acres, I've become obsessed with nutrient recycling. I try very hard not to be offensive when I ask friends - "but WHY put the cat hair you combed out in the trash? Why not just toss it out to blow away on the wind?" Truth is, I'm searching for answers abt what does/doesn't work on this particular front. Have learned that mice love dog hair for their nests - so when Jake gets a hair cut I carry it further from the house, or wedge it in the crotch of an apple tree, to encourage the birds to take it instead. I rinse my milk glass into larger bowl that also contains a few stray coffee grounds or tea leaves, then splash it directly on the ground around my plants. I'm trying to avoid putting paper garbage (that I can't recycle) into plastic bags, so that when it hits the landfill it will break down this century. So much that is valuable food for our soil gets wrapped in plastic and tossed. When it does break down it doesn't feed the good guys, but - because wrapped in plastic it become anarobic - it creates food for the 'bad guys.' We do so much wrong in so many details. Hard to become fully aware - once aware, harder still to find a way to stop the destruction and waste.

Wanda said...

I'm very interested in your no-rinse shower cleaner!

Kathryn Grace said...

Welcome, Mrs. Green, and thank you for stopping by. You and your family are such an inspiration. I'm looking forward to introducing you to my readers next week. Thank you, too, for your kind words and encouragement, and especially for the tip on chappattis. I hope to give them a go this weekend.

Hayden, you are a goldmine of mindful living tips and I appreciate so much your taking time to share them here. For a moment I thought I could take your example and put our kitty fur out on the fire escape each day, but she sheds so much that I suspect folks here in Cole Valley would consider it a nuisance, especially if it blew into their coffee! What do you think?

Wanda, I'm trialling the no-rinse shower spray for the next three weeks: undiluted white vinegar. That's all it is! I hadn't wanted to announce it till I tested and researched it more. I am a little concerned that the acid might corrode the fixtures or damage the tile and grout in some way, so I'm using cautiously while I hunt for reliable background data.

mrs green @ said...

Kathryn, I'm sure you will be fine with the vinegar, I've been using it for years. Although I do use 50/50 mix with water instead of neat. That's more because DH struggles with the smell and I like to make my pennies work hard ;)

Kathryn Grace said...

Thank you for the 50/50 tip, Mrs. Green. Since vinegar neat is fairly strong, I wondered if I might dilute it and get the same results. How does it do in terms of wearing away grout or caulking? As a renter, I am especially careful not to take risks that might harm the fixtures and tile.

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