On Garbage

After spending five hours in bed one Sunday morning reading “No Impact Man,” I’m starting to notice packaging a lot more.  The author, while sifting through his garbage, noticed it was one of most popular things he threw out.  Same here.  I saw somewhere that 80% of the stuff we buy is disposable.  Guess where that’s going?

So I’ve started to make a conscious effort to avoid packaging.  I’ll eat in the cafe instead of getting takeout.  That way I’m eating on reusable plates with reusable silverware instead of taking home a large plastic box that will take up a lot of space in a landfill somewhere.

Starbucks and Borders both knock a few cents off the price of your morning java if you bring your own cup.  Even if your local coffee shop doesn’t do this, how hard is it to bring your own cup and ask?

I buy a lot of my food at Farmer’s Markets (yes, they do exist in winter in a lot of cold weather locales).  I bring my own bags.  A fringe benefit?  Recipe advice.   At the farmer’s market, I’ll pick up an acorn squash.  “You know what to do with that?” the farmer asks.  “I usually just roast it, maybe put some brown sugar on it,” I respond.  “Maple syrup,” he says.  “Ohhhh…I’d never thought of that!” “Once you try it, you’ll never go back.”  He was right, of course.

In other garbage-reducing news, my godmother has sworn off paper towels.  I’m working on it.  I cut up an old worn towel to use to clean with instead of paper towels.  If I’m having cheese and crackers, I put them on a plate instead of a paper towel.  I clean up spills with the sponge instead of a paper towel.  (My cousin, at hearing this, said, “I’m a germophobe.  A sponge seems dirty.”  I’ve read that if you just let your sponge dry out, it kills the bacteria.  Or you can microwave it for 30 seconds, or throw it in the dishwasher.)

I’m going to attempt to get rid of paper napkins, too.  I’ll replace them with cloth, reusable ones.  More laundry, yes.  But still much better for the environment.

I thought I was doing pretty good with this until I went out to dinner the other night and asked to take my leftovers home.  Out they came in a styrofoam container.  I might start leaving a container in my car for just these situations.  Extreme?  If you think that’s extreme, you should read “No Impact Man.”  Could you live without electricity?  Without buying anything new for an entire year (except underwear and socks)?

No one is saying we have to do all these things…but reading books about those that go much farther than we’d ever dream inspires us to just do one or two things a little differently….

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