far from the hurricane, while the rain fell, and far from the earthquake, we watched the clean bin project, which asks, can you live without creating garbage, for a whole year? can you? we used to, before we invented so-called throwaways. since there is no ‘away’, however, here are the most effective, immediate things you can do (from http://cleanbinproject.com/takeaction/toptentips/):
‘Here’s a list of our top ten easy steps. Not all of them reduce curbside garbage, but I think you’ll agree that they all reduce the amount of garbage in our environment. There’s an ongoing list of resources at the bottom, with some ideas on where you can get things and find services.
- Stop Using Plastic Bags. I know everyone knows this one – they sell fabric bags in every super market these days – but still, every time I’m in the checkout line, there’s someone without one. Make a rule for yourself. No bags. If you forget your bag, don’t buy it, or carry your goods without one. Use cotton or mesh bags for produce and bulk as well. This isn’t just for groceries either. Have a pocket-size bag on you when you’re clothes shopping or just going out – you never know when you might buy something.
- Set Up Your Recycling in a convenient place. This sounds like a little thing, but it has a big impact! We found that if we have bins for newspaper, mixed paper, and bottles and cans next to each other in the kitchen, we were more likely to use it than if we had to walk downstairs and outside every time we wanted to recycle a tin can. These are all “dry” recyclables, so they should be washed clean and won’t smell. Don’t be afraid to put them out in the open. If you have a nice set of baskets, people are more likely to ask what your system is all about, and you can share your recycling knowledge.
- Compost!This is the single most effective way to cut your garbage output. According the David Suzuki Foundation, “roughly 40% of the waste in our landfills is compostable organic matter”. That’s crazy! If you compost properly, composts don’t smell, and you can cut your trips to take out the odorous trash by half! You can get a small worm composter for your deck or kitchen or a bigger one for outside. See the resources page for more info.
- Recycle everything you can. I mean everything. Look on your municipal website or give them a call to find out exactly what they take. Do a bit of research to seek out alternative recyclers – maybe they don’t take milk containers in your curbside pick up, but they might at your local grocers. We find it helps to have a list posted on the inside of a kitchen cupboard as a quick reference. Remember that even little bits, like paper receipts, are recyclable, and small things add up.
- Give Up Take Out Containers. And I’m not just talking about coffee cups. When you’re leaving the house in the morning, and you don’t have a lunch with you, it’s pretty obvious you’re going to have to buy something, so grab a container and some cutlery. We keep a couple “to go kits” in the car with our fabric bags. If you’re buying something simple like a piece of pizza or a muffin that you’ll eat right away, just ask for it in your hand.
- Check the Package BEFORE you Buy It. This is another one that sounds easy to do but is also easy to forget. You can keep a reminder card in your wallet listing they types of containers your city picks up. If they’re not recyclable, we make a choice when we’re in the store not to buy them. We also try to go for “pure” packaging products like glass instead of composite products like tetrapaks that are hard to recycle.
- Buy Secondhand. Besides saving you money, previously loved goods don’t come with packaging. Who says you need a brand new bread machine or a brand new frying pan. There are millions of them already out there, and a lot of them need a new home. Try craigslist, freecycle, or your local thrift shop.
- DIY (Do It Yourself). You can make a surprising number of things yourself (and save some serious cash at the same time). From bread to clothing to laundry soap, check out what we’ve been making on our DIY page.
- Get Educated. Read about recycling and going waste-free to learn about what others are doing. Watch The Story of Stuff , an eye opening animated, short film about the cycle of waste and consumerism. Search the internet for information on waste. Check out our Resource page. There is tons of information out there that can help you reduce your garbage.
- Let businesses know how you feel. Leave your packaging at the till or mail it back to the manufacturer. Writing a letter or calling a company goes a long way; I almost always get a response of some kind.
more ideas here.
what is the great pacific garbage patch? it’s a bunch of small plastic pieces–our garbage–floating in the north pacific in an area the size of texas. it mimics food. whales, seabirds, plankton, etc, think they’re eating but they’re actually starving.
the film features chris jordan. who is chris jordan? ‘Chris Jordan is an internationally acclaimed artist and cultural activist based in Seattle. His work explores contemporary mass culture from a variety of photographic and conceptual perspectives, connecting the viewer viscerally to the enormity and power of humanity’s collective will. Edge-walking the lines between art and activism, beauty and horror, abstraction and representation, the near and the far, the visible and the invisible, his work asks us to consider our own multi-layered roles in becoming more conscious stewards of our complex and embattled world. Jordan’s works are exhibited and published worldwide.’
i haven’t seen the movie cloud atlas yet, made by the wachowski brothers (the matrix) and which stars tom hanks, halle berry, and others. after all the stars, tantalizing dialogue, and stunning special effects, the trailer concludes, ‘we are all connected’.
how so? so what?
having studied the great religions of both the east and west and writing in the mid-60s, philosopher alan watts reached the same conclusion. to think otherwise he says is a hallucination. david suzuki and tara cullis recognize that ‘we are all connected’ and say as much in this video from rio in 1992. physically, materially, biologically, this conclusion is inescapable. spiritually and philosophically too.
we are connected in more ways than we can imagine…. this connection has different expressions at different times by different cultures. buddhists call it karma. in medieval times, europeans called it ‘the wheel of fortune’. you don’t have to be learned. you don’ even have to be literate. those living in the rainforests and those living on the ice know intimately that we are connected….
but we ignore this connection at our peril. not only does this disconnect alienate us, it dooms us, for without it, we grope blindly in a theatre of the absurd of our own making. lost, we as a species may stumble into a crevasse. however, many of us have faith in our connectedness. perhaps we can see a way ahead and avoid the pitfalls.
sometimes we go to the movies to escape the unpleasant, but sometimes the unpleasant is exactly what we need to know, like an inconvenient truth. we need to know that we are all connected.
and we’re not omniscient. we’re gonna get things wrong before we get things right. thankfully, we are forgiven, too.
‘connections‘ was a wonderful tv show and book from the 1970s; if you missed it, or want to see it again, it lives on in youtube. long before that, john muir (conservationist and founder of yellowstone) said, ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.’ this idea of everything being connected, of being ‘hitched to everything else’, has been around for some time; in fact, it’s ancient, before our culture.
seeing the world as separate, individual parts has great power, but it also has a great weakness. it’s a paradox. it’s time for us to put the pieces back together. only then can we be part of the making of something wonderful. what do you think? are we connected? can you feel it? i invite your feedback, below….
in my search for a compost image, i came across this by patti: ‘For whatever reason, I was thinking about compost and how amazing it is. We can either simply discard our waste, because we don’t want to deal with it or we can intentionally take it through a process. The process includes taking rotten things, undesirables, and over time, turning them into fertilizer that will aid in the growth of something else.
We, as living beings, experience rotten things; pain, grief, fear, shame, etc. In many cases, we simple try to discard these feelings and rid ourselves of them because we see them as undesirable. But, if we were to treat these feelings like compost, holding them over time and even giving them a stir once in a while, this process will result in our personal growth. The so-called “rotten stuff” is really the fertilizer for each of us to grow our unique gift to be shared with others.’