The first part of our New Year's intention to move our household to zero waste is to look honestly at our current waste output. What I would like to think our output is and what it actually is may be worth investigating. We can't change a problematic behavior until we really understand what is at the root of it.
When my husband and I first met, we had both spent time living in community. It was living in community where I was first exposed to buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, composting, chopping wood and so much more. I was a child raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I grew up eating yellow floppy cheese unwrapped by the slice. First seeing glass jars filled with herbs and beans, buckets filled with peanut butter, and handmade salves was mind-expanding to say the very least. I knew I had a lot to learn, and I soaked it up like a sponge. My husband and I committed ourselves to continue living in this way.
Fast forward 10 years and three kids later, in many ways we still are living our ethic of having the smallest footprint we can. We garden and preserve food, we do not have technological devices other than one family laptop, we search out used goods before purchasing anything new, we have held a strong line with our children around no plastic or battery operated toys because of the waste they create. However, when it comes to food in particular or how we obtain bought goods, we have slipped, and into our lives an enormous amount of plastic packaging has slipped in with it.
We are a country obssessed with consuming. We throw away objects not because their use has ended, but because our desire for the object has ended. This is most evidently true with technology. People dispose of working technology when the next version is released, not because they need it, but because they want it. Collectively, we need to realize that our wants have impacts. We need to ask ourselves more often is my want for this object, my want for this thing more important than its impact on our environment? More important than securing healthy air and water for our grandchildren? Consumerism is a disease that is strangling our planet, stripping it of its vital resources that are needed to sustain us. Resources needed to guarentee our grandchildren's future. We need to start making our choices with future generations in mind.
It is not my intention to preach over the next year, but to offer my own personal reflection with my family and share what we discover here. It is my hope that as we learn, you can learn along side of us, or share with us the changes you are making. The first part of that journey is us being honest with what our current impact is. Every Wednesday in my little town the dump opens and we drive our garbage & recycling down. There is no garbage pick up in many rural areas. Each Wednesday we will weigh our trash & recycling and share our stats here. This will give us an idea of our starting place and help us to set goals for the future. We will be weighing in with a household scale, so this is far from scientific.
Our weekly weigh in starting off:
Garbage: 3 pounds
Recycling: 6 pounds