When I went to Boulder, I met an awesome guy who refuses to throw out ANY trash. If he has any waste, he’ll create something out of it – but there’s isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell he’ll throw it away.
When he first told me about that, it sounded kind of extremist to me.
However, the more I think about it, the more I find myself gravitating to that kind of thinking. It’s really incredible how much waste we have. A lot of the “green” movement consists of people buying cloth shopping bags to carry all their stuff, or buying energy-saving cars. These are definitely better moves – though they’re of course not reducing waste.
I’ve recently been reading about people called “freegans”. Some of them refuse to buy ANYTHING new. They’ll either swap with people, use freecycle (where people give away stuff they don’t want anymore), or go dumpster diving (digging in the trash for new things). There are all types of people who do this – I even read about a doctor/lawyer couple who does it.
It sounds crazy I know, but what’s crazier is how EASY it is for them.
I read one NY Times article that was being written as a group of people were digging through the dumpsters from stuff that recently-graduated NYU students left behind. The freegans were finding usable stuff – half full bottles of detergent, furniture, etc.
The most fascinating part of the article for me was when one of the upper-middle-class freegans was asked if she stockpiles the stuff she finds. She said no. In her words: “The sad fact is you don’t need to,” she said. “More trash will be there tomorrow.”
How crazy is that? Not only is there an entire class of people banking on all the waste we throw out but they don’t even stockpile the stuff they find! They’re crystal-clear confident that more trash will be thrown out tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.
The United Nations says the leftovers in America could satisfy every single empty stomach in Africa.
I never really got into the whole “green” living thing until recently. That’s mostly because everything I read about was based on fear (“we’re ruining the planet!”) type tactics. Even though that may be true, negative spins on things just don’t appeal to me. If anything, they turn me off and I retaliate against them.
That being said, I freaking LOVE the beautiful world we live in, and I want to nurture it and make sure it’s here for a long time. I love the idea of everything living in harmony. Things like this or this make me realize how far ignoring things have gotten us so far.
So, even though I might not dedicate the rest of my life to green living, I find there are definitely things that can be done.
Even just yesterday, I was watching Sex And The City 2 and saw an awesome outfit Kim Cattrall was wearing. I thought, “Wow! I want that! It would look awesome on me, and I’m in the mall already…I bet I could easily find something just like it!”
Then I thought – “Do I really want more stuff?
The answer was no. I don’t need more clothes. I already have lots of clothes.
And that was it. For me, it was just a matter of taking a second to think and not act out of impulse.
Same thing when I went to go get a salad for lunch. I asked myself, “Do I want to get a salad from take-out, knowing there’ll be a plastic container given to me?” I was very hungry, so the answer was yes. (Maybe I’ll work myself up to the point of not doing that in the future – but for now, the answer was yes.)
As I sat and waited for my salad, I saw the staff at the restaurant taking every to-go order, putting it in a easily-carryable plastic box, and then putting the box in a plastic bag – complete with plastic utensils and another plastic bag holding a bread roll.
Just being CONSCIOUS of what was going on was really fascinating.
When the guy went to go grab a bag for my salad, I practically yelped, “NO!” I also didn’t take the utensils or the bread roll (which I wouldn’t have eaten anyway). I knew I had a perfectly good fork at home and it took no extra energy to carry the box.
It’s easy to do little things that really add up over time.
For me, I have a lot of fruit and veggie waste. That’s probably my #1 source of trash. Now I know I can use the scraps for compost instead of throwing them out. If you want to do that too, just Google “compost pile + your area” for more information.
Another easy thing is to give away clothes and things you’re not using, which helps other people not need to buy more.
Oh, and lastly- if you haven’t yet seen Story Of Stuff, I highly recommend it. It’s quite interesting and not fear-based.