For the last few years, we have had to burn or bury our own trash. It really makes us come to terms with any wastefulness in our lives. We’ve learned to recycle our own paper products into fire-starting-briquettes, we have different compost piles and pits, and we repair, repurpose, or give away as much as we can. We use cans and bottles for seedlings and gardening. We wash our Ziplock bags to re-use them (in part, because we can’t get more in this country). We even have systems for watering plants with the grey water. We built a septic pit/compost pit for our [quite excessive] dogs’ droppings. When you are responsible for all of your own waste, or if someone you know takes it and burns it piece by piece, you become a lot more conscious of how many resources you are using, as well as how much goes unused.
But there are just some things that we can’t do much with. For example, when I break glasses and bowels, we can’t really burn that or put it in a pit. I tried to think of different uses for broken glass – windchimes, mosaics, an alternate to concertino wire concreted on the top of the wall, I even considered wearing down the remaining sides of the glass to use it as a half-glass. My gardener recommended that we throw it over our back wall (I thought we had neighbors on all sides, but it seems there’s a small creek bordering us on that side). In the end, we’ve had the broken glasses sitting on a top kitchen shelf for weeks, recently joined by an accidentally shattered bowel that nearly broke Greg’s heart. In the end, there are just some things which will mark our environmental footprint, accumulations of things and leftovers of things that show what a large percentage of resources flow through our hands.
Recently I’ve been challenged to eat more veggie scraps and send less to the compost pile. So I’ve been making soups, veggie burgers, and chopped veggies for stir fry from the parts of vegetables that I can’t (or don’t want to) eat fresh. We even put together a compost worm box to help with additional kitchen scraps. With all the added veggies, it makes for less other food and less overall waste. Still, there are plastics and wrappers, cans and bottles, broken, unusable pieces that need to go somewhere. This week we decided to hire a trash service.
For the first time, we’ll have someone take away one or two bags of trash once a week. It’s a luxury and a relief. Something I grew up with and took for granted, then missed without knowing. In the end, I know the trash will be burnt or go in a landfill somewhere, so I will still try to limit our waste before it makes its way into the trash bin. I feel weird how much less bothered I am when someone takes away the waste for me. I wonder if this somehow reflects my cultural attitude of caring only about what is before my eyes, not thinking too much about processes before or after my own home. I want to be more responsible, I want to be less wasteful. No matter how hard I think I’m trying, in my lifetime, I will probably continue to use up more resources than most people on the planet. But at least now I realize it. I’m trying to do something about it. One veggie burger at a time…