This week one of the chapters is simply entitled Waste. I volunteered for this chapter because I thought it would be the one that I had most experience with and the most material to contribute to a meaningful discussion. I thought about it quite a lot, and found that I needed much more room than a single post to talk about my experiences with gardening, and recycling, and energy conservation, among other things.
The bottom line? It seems like I talk a good game, but that I only do significant waste reduction things if it is easy or convenient for me.
Ouch. That sure isn't what I was going for when I volunteered for this chapter.
When it became obvious that I had only platitudes to offer the discussion, I did what any good reviewer/researcher would do-- I threw it out for debate with my Facebook friends. This one drew much less discussion that whether or not people think I am an introvert or an extrovert. I think that is because this is an issue that people are really either into, or they really aren't. These were the most of the comments I received:
We haven't really gone that green--but I do have to time my teenagers showers now! That does conserve water. I think it's important----but I guess I really don't do a lot!! I'll put a bottle in a recycle bin if its there--but throw it out if its not!
I attempt to be as responsible as is practical for our community. Living in a rural locale, there are no recycling routes, though I use the recycling bins at work for trash generated there. I believe that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has granted us. I don't believe that man has the power to save or destroy God's creation, but I do believe we should care for it as was commanded.
My list is recycle the plastic bags at the grocery store, although I'm trying to get better about taking my own, we recycle metal waste from our construction company as well--I do usually use aluminum h20 bottles but still have plastic, too.
Living overseas has definitely helped me be more aware. The things I'm about to list are things EVERYONE does here. It's made very easy for us and is also expected. The paper is picked up every other week. The refuse is picked up every other week. This is done locally. We separate aluminum, plastic, paper, glass, and refuse. There are bins on base for all of that and another area for clothes, batteries, electronics, etc. I take my green bags to the commissary and my little German basket with me to the German grocery. I carry my own water bottle because there are fountains everywhere. It's a lifestyle in Europe. I know if I were in the states I wouldn't be doing it because they make it so inconvenient to do.
And that is it. I actually have more than 4 friends, but these were the ones that actually had some thoughts about the whole waste issue. However, I think it is very telling. People seem to do what is convenient or expected. But I think this is just why Jen Hatmaker chose to write her book, and include this chapter in it. She had some amazing insights, and did some big things, and I couldn't help but be envious of the fact that she lives in an area where being green is expected and easier to accomplish (Austin, TX) than it is in so many other areas. And that whole KP Project where an agency will supervise homeless people to come out and plant and maintain a garden on your personal property? How amazing is that? I would hands-down be the first to sign up for a program like that. I even mentioned it to my husband, who said, "Yeah, that sounds great, but who is going to organize something like that around here? Are you willing to do it?".
And the simple answer is no. No, I'm not. But I sure LOVE the idea of that program, though. And having recycle bins as a normal part of a fast food restaurant (locally owned and one that serves grass fed beef, of course). But then I see this comment on my Facebook feed by a friend that doesn't live all that far from me, meaning her resources are the same as mine are, and my excuses seem pretty flimsy:
Do you want our long list?? recycle glass, paper, plastic, etc-we do not get bags from grocery stores-we have our own, we have a compost out back-we have water saving toiletsts, water heater- we have put the denim insulation in the walls. we have water barrels. We are in the process of saving for some solar panels for the roof...when we first moved in to our house our electric bill in the summer was around 400....know its around 150. Our water bill is around 20 bucks a month. and our gas bill is around 30 in the winter time. That is all I can think of...OH! We do not buy water bottles...that is huge!!!
And then there is my other thrifty friend, who goes way beyond things I have done:
I used cloth diapers and breastfed my four children. We compost, recycle and reuse items. We built a chicken coop out of mainly reclaimed wood and the chickens are helping with the composting.
When running errands we combine them to save on gas and set the thermostat higher than most in summer and cooler in winter.
We try to support the local farmer's market.
I think for many people it boils down to balancing what is good and needed and necessary with what is do-able and practical and cost efficient. I LOVE the discussion on Day 22, where JH talks about her Sybil like personalities when it comes to waste and going green. First, there is Sage Moonjava, who doesn't blink at spending $11.99/lb for bulk organic cashews, because they were harvested responsibly and not doused in partially hydrogenated oil". Then there is Ryvre, who thinks "buying from corporate chains is paying The Man; and would rather subsidize local vendors who retain creative ownership and feed back into the local economy". Rounding them out is Freedom Shakra, who "understands that name brands and chic labels are the marketing brainchildren of The People Who Sell Us Stuff We Don't Need. There is no good reason to buy designer water, over-priced spaghetti, or two springs of basil for $3.99".
I think this was a great representation, and represents where so many folks are. I know I want to do better. I guess time will tell what I actually do. I do know, however, that reading this book has definitely gotten the wheels a turnin', though.
I'm not the only one posting on this today. You can also follow the discussion on waste with Katie and Amy Y. Karrie and Lindsy W are also discussing the chapter on spending, which also touches on some really good stuff.
I hope you all have a really great day.