On Will’s birthday he took our DVD player that had stopped working properly ages ago, and had stopped working at all a few months ago, and he smashed it with an axe. It was hilarious and satisfying, revenge for so many thwarted movie nights. And then we threw it in the blue bin and thought nothing more of it.
Today I read about e-waste, and how it is illegal in South Australia to dispose of e-waste in the regular bin. I feel like I should have known that, but I had no idea. It didn’t even cross my mind as we were throwing out those chemical coated pieces of plastic, to a place that meant we could forget about them forever. And today I am disgusted with myself. That I didn’t think about what would happen to the earth surrounding that chemical cocktail once it was buried in landfill…
I was going to start this post with a rant about the horrendous waste in the hospitality industry (in general- there are some awesome eco-conscious businesses out there), and the greediness of customers who order far too much food then think they are entitled to leave half for the rubbish bin, simply because they’ve paid for it. But I’m not going to do that. I think people probably don’t respond that well to negativity, and it would be better to kick things off on a less angry foot.
And so I am going to talk about waste. But not depressing, we are destroying the earth, poisoning the water systems and killing all the animals waste (even though that is kind of exactly what is happening). I want to talk about what we can do about waste. And it involves a bit of a rethink in the way we go about things. Simple is a good place to start, so let’s do that.
I started thinking about all the things I use every day, and how many of those things could be recycled back into the earth once I was finished with them. And the answer, not all that surprisingly, is very few. I thought I was quite an eco aware person, but I use glad-wrap and baking paper everyday, I buy oats and pasta shrouded in plastic and I use a plastic bin from K-mart for my compost. But going into this whole waste-reduction thing with the attitude that every single thing you are doing is wrong is not helpful, it is overwhelming and makes the whole thing seem too hard. Which it isn’t.
Think about drinking vessels- wine glasses, juice tumblers, shot glasses (?). You could go out to K-mart or Ikea when you have reached that stage where your broken glasses out-number your intact ones, OR you could nip down to your closest op-shop and buy a whole bunch of whatever drinking vessel you so desire, for about a dollar a pop. Eco-conscious or not, it makes a lot of sense. I bought three wine glasses from the salvage yard today; smashed one of them almost immediately. Why waste resources and money on that?!
I read the other day about how we have changed the meaning of the word waste, consciously or not. ‘Waste’ used to be a verb, something humans did, a shameful habit. Now it is a noun. An unavoidable part of life, a regrettable necessity. When did this happen?
This whole ‘personal waste reduction’ challenge is more about slowly changing the way we think about all aspects of our lives, rather than trying to ditch all the plastic and chemicals in our houses all in one go. You probably already use something-other-than-plastic-bags when you do your shopping, so what about using something-other-than-plastic-bags when you gather your loose fresh vegies, nuts or grains? Things to think about.
I am not trying to sound preachy, and there are no pedestals in sight here; I am simply trying to change the way I go about life myself, and thought maybe some other people would like some new ideas and inspiration also. I love the planet, it’s a beautiful place and I don’t want to wreck it. It takes a little effort, requires a little extra thought, but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it. No question really. The earth isn’t ours, we just get to hang out on it for a short while. So why does that give us the right to kill it?
And that’s all for today. Except for one thing: toilet paper. Unless you have a bidet, it’s pretty much a standard in every home in this country. It is certainly a place to be ethical. And now you can! Follow this link, buy some toilet paper made out of environment-happy materials, and you will be helping to build toilets in the developing world. Pretty good vibes for the pooping room right?
P.S. I know I have put this post in the ‘garden’, and it is happy here. For without healthy land, how can we grow?