Philadelphia smells like hot trash in the summer.
I consider what I buy in terms of packaging, and try to avoid it, but I really want to eliminate the concept of "trash" from my life entirely. That is the end goal: to reduce what I use, and to reuse or compost the rest.
Fruitarians can do this, no problem! Not only that, it saves the you the bullshit decisions about processed packaged food, material items that will have no meaning in the long term, keeps things simple, yet creative, and keeps trash-related guilt off your mind so you can feel more empowered in your life experience.
For those wanting more on zero waste, check out this site (no, it's not a vegan website)
These are the R's: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot
This outlines your priorities in the following order, somewhat like a flow chart:
- Refuse: don't let it into your life if you do not need it! If someone offers you a candy bar, say no thank you. For me, if I know I can't do any of the R's with it, I would abstain from it and find a different option that meets my needs.
- Reduce: if you can, limit your consumption of things that are difficult to process after consuming. I want to try to give my dog more food that I cook to cut down on buying dog food, because the bags are not super convenient to reuse. Strategically, I am looking for a dog food that doesn't come in a plastic-lined bag, because plastic is one of those things to avoid in the first place. I haven't found it yet, but there is still hope.
- Reuse: next best option. I can't sustainably cook every meal for my dog, so I buy dog food. I take the bags, wipe out the inside, take them to work, and fill them with vegetables to be donated to the food bank. The other option could be sewing them together to be a sail for my trashboat. This is where innovation, ingenuity, and creativity comes into play.
- Recycle: lame. Lots of things that are recyclable don't actually get recycled. The process of recycling requires a lot of energy and more resources, uses or produces pollutant chemicals, and is never perfectly efficient. I have yet to find a recycling system that I would actually support, but I don't thing the man-made technology is there yet. Anybody know if there is a high efficiency recyclable item out there? I was thinking glass bottles, but I don't drink so it doesn't really apply to my lifestyle.
- Rot: As a farmer, this is definitely my favorite. Composting is something I am very passionate about. I love the smells, sights, and life that arise from compost. It reminds me that the water we drink was once dinosaur pee and the dust in our homes is 80% human skin. Mel Glovin said it best in one of her youtube videos about how everything is made of energy at the most basic level. The energy never changes, it just coordinates in a different way. Matter is neither created nor destroyed.
Technically, landfills qualify as part of the "Rot" in this scenario. The only problem is that things are "rotting" so slowly that we are quickly drowning in our own refuse. Can nature keep up? That is the challenge we have been testing the Earth with for the last hundred years or so.
The show goes on, and hope is there, most of the time. Things like this TED talk give me hope.
What we need are observations of our problems, new ideas, and community to express those ideas and allow them to percolate until we find the really good ideas. Collaboration and refinement of open-source, non-proprietary ideas that anyone can implement, anywhere in the world.
Not sure where my part is in the grand scheme, but what I can do right now is cut the trash out (not a radical shift in my lifestyle, just a few tweaks thankfully) and document the process to help others.
Changes I am making are mostly mental/emotional attachments to material objects and certain foods
- This computer is slowly dying and I will not buy a new one when it does. I will try to keep fixing it until it gets donated to my electronic fanatic friend. I don't even want to buy a used one, I would rather just use computers less and make it more meaningful when I do. I can always use a library computer. I remember when I was 4 and we had our first home PC and it was so weird. I want to get that feeling back, that feeling of the world with less computation.
- Same idea with my cell phone (bought used online, too much packaging for me)
- Buying fruit without plastic packaging
- Pro: more bulk boxes, no namby pamby apportioned bags that only last you one meal anyway!
- Pro: bulk boxes=cheaper!
- Pro: bulk boxes are super re-useful and make a great carbon addition to your compost!
- Pro: encourages me to eat "specialty" fruits off the tree or shrub, when they taste the best anyway! (talking about cherries, grapes, berries, things that almost always come in plastic) Quality wins
- Buying used clothes at the thrift store, NOT on-line. Tossing the tag plastics into some acetone to melt down for 3D printing. I think they may be recyclable as well? I used to use ebay like a giant thrift store, because I am tall and it's pretty hard to find clothes that are long enough for my limbs. Lame excuse, right? If I must have something ordered online, I must reuse the packaging (eyeglasses fall into this category, I order them online here, they ship in a bag that I can reuse if I really want to, every couple of years or so)
- If I do buy dried fruit, ALWAYS reuse the bag (and remember that I should just dry local fruit myself!)
- Ditto with jarred goods (again, DIY preferable)
- Medicine: I make a lot of herbal remedies. I thought about buying some ibuprofen the other day because my period cramps were painful. I found a willow tree that gave me some bark to suck on and the cramps lessened. Worth it, grateful for willow. In the future maybe I can retreat during my cycle so I can experience the pain fully without having to play along with the rest of civilization during that week.
- I will not throw away my Diva Cup, even though they say you should replace it after 10 years. Silicone is still in great condition and I sterilize it in boiling water. I think they just want people to keep buying Diva Cups, or that it's "better safe than sorry." I've had mine since I was 14 and now I'm 24 and hope that it lasts until I go through menopause. Maybe I'll pass it down to my theoretical future adopted daughter. She's going to think I'm really weird.
I know this is the right course of action for me because I have had no doubts about it. There will be a direct positive reaction from my environment, as I quit lining the world with my detritus, nature will have a greater opportunity to thrive. It might be a drop in a bucket, but the drop is mine and that's all I can control right now.
I made a working spreadsheet to outline my personal waste stream
What are your thoughts? Anyone else trying this out? Thoughts, tips, new ideas, challenges?