Monday, October 19, 2009

Thou Shalt Create No Trash

Today as part of the No Impact Project we are challenged to look at the trash we are creating and consider ways to eliminate it. Already, my family practices what I consider to be moderate practices of reducing our waste: we compost, buy in bulk, shop with cloth bags, reuse bags for our bulk purchases, and recycle cans, glass, and paper, including paperboard. And our efforts are visible in the rate that we drag our garbage to the curb and the actual amount that is in the bin.
Still, there is more that can be done which, I am noticing, will entail more effort on my part. I am not adverse to this, but I know that it will require not only physical effort, but mental effort as well.
You see, one of the things that Colin talks about in No Impact Man is that we often are in a great hurry to get so many things out of the way, to get, it would seem, much of our life out of the way.
Now it just so happens that I was sitting on the beach this past Friday enjoying what may well be our last really warm day of the year here in southwest Florida, and I was reading a book about slowing down and creating more happiness in our lives by remaining in the moment.
This is not news to me. I have known about and have practiced time and again, reamaining in the present moment. Yet, unless I am in dire need of it - such as to avoid anxiety - I often forget this practice and allow myself to get swept away by my circumstances. When a theme begins to repeat itself in my life, I attribute it to God tapping me on the shoulder and asking me to pay close attention... and so I am.
The mental effort I mentioned above will entail just this: remaining in the present moment - living in my life and not trying to escape even the drudgery that may come from many kitchen chores. The more I pay attention, the more I am living with intention and often (though not always) the drudgery is elevated from something I might rather avoid to something I may even esteem.
Paying attention today to what is happening in my kitchen and how much waste may be created has me rethinking habits and looking for alternatives.
Today for breakfast I made everyone tofu scramble breakfast burritos with lettuce and salsa. We had orange juice to drink. The orange juice was from frozen concentrate; all parts of the can, save for that little plastic band you use to pull off the lid, can be recycled. The tortillas are from Whole Foods and come six in a plastic bag. I've tried making tortillas. I do NOT care for it, though I can say my family LOVED the fresh ones. Don't know if I'll go for making them homemade again any time in the future... but never say never.
The tofu came in a plastic tub that can be recycled. I won't be making my own tofu, I'm afraid. I may even say never to this!
The salsa came in a glass jar, which can be recycled, but I am seriously thinking that I should try making fresh salsa again. I haven't liked some of the salsa recipes I've made in the past, but I have tried others' fresh salsa and loved it. I'll do some experimenting here and see if I can find a good recipe. Feel free to share if you have one!
I used garlic this morning too - chopped from a plastic jar. I have cut fresh garlic for years and only recently took to using the convenient, large jars already prepared from the store. Let me tell you, I hate peeling garlic! But I'll go back to doing it in large batches to store for myself in a reusable jar. Throwing it in the food processor is not a problem (until I get to no electricity... is that coming this week? I better get it done before then!), but the peeling is still a pain. Maybe I can think of something pleasant to do while I'm doing it. Perhaps I'll sit down at the table instead of standing and listen to a book or podcast on my iPod if I'm alone, or perhaps I can do it with one of the children at the table visiting with me.
A few other things I noticed today:
* While my tea bag is compostable, the little paper that wraps my Twingings Earl Gray is not, though I suppose it is recyclable. But the paper used is not post-consumer, so switching to loose leaves will be a goal of mine.
* I am frustrated that I can't buy peanuts in bulk anymore since the peanut butter scare last year. I was happily making my own peanut butter, but now I am buying again: glass jar, non-recylable plastic lid.
* I do make our own tofu mayo, but the tofu is in aesceptic packaging that is not recycled here. It's 1/4 the cost of Vegenaisse though, so I'm sticking with it for now. I'll look for silken tofu in the recylable plastic tubs I guess.
So, those are some of the things I've noticed in regard to trash today. I plan to ask my small house church I attend next door to practice using non-disposable items for coffee, etc. I'll be reminding my friends to bring their own mugs.
A few other non-trash choices for today:
* Took the van to get its oil changed. Took my bike in the back and rode home after stopping at the store with cloth bag for some fruits and veggies. Skipped the grapes in the plastic bag and took plums without packaging instead.
* The kids and I walked the two miles back up to pick up the van when it was done. A great afternoon in the cool air and sunshine!
* We'll be perusing Craigslist and Freecycle for the bike and some rollerblades for Eve, who's outgrown both of hers.
So, a fulfilling and thoughtful Day Two to my No Impact Week! :)
Photo credit: Steve Winter; print available at Allposters.com
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