Sunday, March 30, 2008

what's in your trashcan?

Lately I've been trying not to throw anything away. I think I read some awful stat that said the average American throws away 5 pounds of trash a day. Then I started doing the math in my head and indeed 'twas not pretty. So I've decided that nothing is to be thrown away unless there is absolutely nothing it can be used for. This thinking has come in handy several times lately. Amazing how the random plastic bag can be useful or how those little twisty-ties that come with bags of bread can be used over and over.

My mother bought me these really fantastic chocolate truffle eggs for Easter (turns out there is something good about Easter), and they're covered in different colors of foil. I almost threw the first wrapper away, but then I thought about it and decided to keep it just in case. Art project perhaps? I guess you can go overboard with this concept, and that's where conscientious ends and pack-rat begins, but my point is that...5 pounds a day? Really? Is that necessary? The answer is no, of course not. The appetite of the developed world (and I really, truly hate that marginalizing term, but we all know the inadequacies of language by now) is just too voracious to be sustainable, and we should really monitor the whole consumptive process from both ends. How do you know you're consuming too much? When you have 5 pounds of stuff you consider to be "trash" each day.

Granted it is rather impossible to live a hermetic life in America. I mean, commuting and having to buy $3.50/gal gasoline is just a small piece of it. And with an environmental movement so grounded in upper-crust consumption, how can we really expect to transcend the "buy-me" barrier smoothly if at all?

On a more optimistic note, however, I have noticed this really interesting counter-culture shift. Maybe it's just that I live in a pretty progressive area, but there's a solid group of people dedicated to making the change from dependent consumer to independent "doer." Just this Saturday there was a clothing swap at a local vegan eatery which went over rather well. More and more people seem to be interested in growing veggies in their backyards or at least buying veggies from local farmers at farmers' markets. There are crafsters who knit while riding the city buses. In light of the grumblings of the counter-culture I see a big change waiting to happen. Sort of like a volcano effect. The pressure builds up higher and higher and higher until...there goes George!

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