Waste

Earth day was earlier this week, but this post has been a long time in the works. In my mind anyway.

There is one thing that I can say that has truly been a concern of mine since I was young. Waste. As a kid, I learned like we all do how food gets from the field to our plate. The work in the field itself, the transportation involved, sometimes some sort of processing, then whatever we do before we actually eat it. So much time, energy, and work went into getting it there. And it became something precious to me. How could anyone waste that food and everything that went into getting into our mouths? How can you send back a perfectly good meal knowing they are going to throw all the work put into it straight into the garbage? I have always found it hard to throw away things for that matter.

And the same applies to other products. The workmanship put into or the production of items would be wasted when we through those items away. I found those items precious and yearned that there would be a way to fix them or reuse them. I still feel that way today. Truthfully I would pay more to have something fixed that to toss something in the trash and get a new one for cheaper. It seems such a waste and so arrogant and elitist in the disregard for the environment.

I could be labeled a packrat, but really it is this concern with waste that drives why I keep things. I have a lot of trouble with the thinking that you just throw away things you haven’t used in a while and buy another one if you really need it. Yes, you have less clutter, but you are really just passing the buck. Why not think a little whether you truly need something instead of buying on a whim thinking you may need it someday?

And I can be a considered a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to clothes. We finally live in a place where everything can have it’s place and I found out just how much clothes I’ve been dragging around since high school. Stuff that still fits, but was just a bit off for my tastes. Well, I’ve decided to wear all that extra clothing until it either wears out or becomes unpresentable. This applies primarily to the sock, t-shirt, and shoe departments. Wear out the shoes until the soles are almost gone, wear the socks until there are holes in them, and I’m not sure what to do with t-shirts since they can be worn under other things and really, they don’t wear out as quickly.

Then there’s the other aspect. When you throw something out, it has to go somewhere. Images on television or movies of vast piles of garbage also left an impression on me. Nobody wants to be near a landfill, but there is only so much land on this planet. In truth we can’t just keep throwing everything away. Yes some things will disintegrate, but so much will not. This is not to mention what chemicals are leaching out of these dumps and returning to us in some form.

These are thoughts that have been with me since I was a kid. Much of it can be attibuted to watching nature shows with our parents and going on road trips cross country seeing nature parks. Now, I haven’t turned out to be ultra-ecofriendly, but it still sticks in the back of my mind. I’ve made an extra effort composting and recycling now that we have our own place. We compost almost all of our yard waste and last summer it yielded over 100 gallons of loose mulch. I even conserve extra building materials like odd pieces of wood and screws in the chance I may be able to use them again. At times I can be anal retentive about it and at other times quite the free-wheeling consumer. Such is my coexisting id and ego extremes.

In a perfect world, I would create a residence that produces no waste. Or at least one that is incredibly efficient as opposed to today where we leave a garbage can a week at the curb to be hauled away. A world where we value the items and their worth as opposed to it’s cheaper replacement value. As with so many things it boils down to the devaluation of greed and money. And as we all know that will be hard to come by.

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~ by Frank on April 26, 2007.

3 Responses to “Waste”

  1. I have a no-guilt recycling solution – the Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. Not only do I delight in picking up something that I can use at a mega-discount over new, (and sometimes companies donate new stuff, still with the tags on), but also get to recycle those things that just don’t do it for me anymore. Someone else will decide it’s just the thing they were looking for!

  2. Great post, Frank. Given the current explosion of interest in environmental issues, I find that we don’t talk nearly enough about our consumption habits. Recycling is all very well and fine, but I’m not sure how effective it is as an environmental strategy if we don’t also think about how much crap we are complelled to buy in the first place.

    As an aside, when a distant family member of mine emigrated to Canada from Bosnia during the war, he was flabbergasted at how many perfectly viable things we Canadians throw in the trash. Being a bit of a handyman, he started collecting broken furniture, appliances, and electronic goods, repairing them, and reselling them, primarily to other recent immigrants. As far as I’m concerned, this is as much a form of recycling as using a green box, and in some respects, a better one.

  3. we rcycle to help the earth.

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