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Inspiration from Meghan

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A Visit To The Land We Call Away

 

Pick your brand, pick your product! What will it be? Fruit Loops? Diet Coke? Reynold's Plastic Wrap? Redpath white sugar? Orville Redenbocker microwave popcorn? Mr. Christie mini rice crackers?

Pretty gross isn't?

Being up here at my cottage, where we compost all that we can, have no running water, and no garbage pick up, we are even more conscious of what we use. Why? Because we want to make as few trips as possible to this place, the place we commonly call "Away".

What do I mean by this? Well when we grow tired of something, use something up, need to get rid of something, we throw it 'away'. But how often do we stop and consider the fact that there really isn't some mysterious planet in a far off galaxy that takes our junk, waste and discarded stuff from us. We sit with it. It stays here on earth with us for years. Maybe ten years, maybe a hundred years, or maybe, as in the case of most plastics- forever. Have you thought about that? The fact that every piece of plastic ever created still remains on this earth in some form.

What if the "Away" was not some far off place that we never had to see or visit, but was instead in your back yard? Or your basement? Or your front hall closet? What if you had to sit with your waste and garbage for all your life, would you choose things differently?

When I drew the short straw and took our garbage to the dump last week, it struck me how out of touch we are with where our waste goes. As stinky as it was, I thought it kind of useful to have that garbage strike a few years back so people were forced to actually look at their garbage. I actually think it might be a proper rite of passage as citizens on this planet for us each to spend a day working at the landfill site that our garbage gets neatly picked up from our curb or back lane once a week and taken to.

The fact is, there is no "Away". And since most of you are not going to be taking yourselves, your children, or your waste-making household/friends/family on an outing to the local dump, I thought I would share my trip with you.

Remember that lesson about reduce, reuse, recycle? Recycle is supposed to be the last resort, not the excuse to buy water in tiny plastic bottles and pop in cans. What's most amazing is that this area of our country has some of the purest spring water available in the whole world. And it's free! Funny how you never see a pile up of blueberry juice bottles.

Next to the cans and bottles bin is the paper waste bin. See all the cans above? And then see below the additional paper waste it comes with. What if we scrapped soda pop all together? Well, we'd save a whole lot of garbage and a whole lot of calories, fatness, headaches, sugar cravings, childhood obesity, diabetes and nutrient deficiency. That's what.

More bottles. This was bin labelled "Closed". Bottles from more water, toxic detergents and cleaning agents, and plastic salad containers.

I was pretty sure the flock of seagulls waiting to feast on the pile of man-made garbage were judging me and the rest of my species thinking"man- what the heck are they doing to their home!"

I watched this truck back in and begin to deposit an entire shed made from perfectly reusable wood. I couldn't help but think of all the small wooden shacks destroyed by the hurricane in St. Lucia or how Uta, of Balenbouche where I run my retreats, has built many of her cottages from salvaged wood. By the way- anyone need a toaster? I know where you can get one for cheap!

And here in lies one of the many large piles of pure garbage. When it gets big enough, they use those tractors to push the garbage over the edge into the deep pit of waste to let it rot out for many, many, many years- poisoning the soil, the run off water and the surrounding areas.

Garbage does not go "Away". 'Out of sight', should not equate to 'out of mind'.  Dividing your garbage into recycling, food waste and trash is a start, but it is far from enough. The first trick is to not create so much in the first place. How do we do that?

  • Consume less.
  • Be aware of the packaging in the things you do buy.
  • Avoid plastic always!
  • Go package free (filter your water, cook from scratch)
  • Use reusable drinking bottles and fill up at home.
  • Use cloth bags and cloth napkins.
  • Don't eat junk food, takeaway or processed/packaged foods. That should help.
  • Discard of things responsibly- can it be reused, donated, repurposed etc.

Now, share this with everyone you know- including the little kiddies. Tell them you're taking them to the Land of "Away".

Question Of The Day: What do you do on a daily basis that reduces your contribution to the land we call "Away"?

 

15 Responses to “A Visit To The Land We Call Away”

  1. Heidi Nicole said…
    We just moved and we got rid of a lot of stuff...but we didn't throw it away. We donated about 4 car loads full of stuff. I definitely earned my tax write off in donations this year! It was all stuff that WE no longer had a use for but it wasn't ruined or broken...someone else could definitely have a use for it! Recycling is good and really emphasized in this world, but I think people tend to overlook donating.
  2. Andrea said…
    My answer to the QOTD: Most of what I use either gets recycled or goes into the green bin. All of the organic waste that I generate at work - whether it's food scraps, paper towels used when I wash my dishes or Kleenexes that I blow my nose in - gets taken home for the green bin. I use reusable dishware, even when we have a food event at work where there are disposables available. Instead of using disposable napkins at home I have a small dish cloth that I use repeatedly for wiping my mouth and hands. I don't do that for blowing my nose, but maybe if I had laundry machines in my apartment I would. I reuse and donate rather than dispose. I've repurposed old single socks as dusting rags. I wash and reuse resealable (i.e. Ziplock) bags. Now I just have to start carrying a purse big enough to stuff containers for those spontaneous take-out food situations, or find containers that collapse to a small size. They must exist. What's great is that a lot of actions that we take to be environmentally responsible save us money. For example, I reuse sandwich bags partly because I'm frugal (cheap?). Why waste a perfectly good bag?
  3. mrs green @myzerowaste.com said…
    I love this post - thank you so much for sharing. "THere's no such place as away" has been my mantra for a couple of years and when I give talks it's the phrase that offers the epiphany 'Aha!' moment to the audience. I love your vibrant photos to illustrate the point and with a little change to lifestyle and a few new habits it really is simple to reduce our landfill waste considerably. Last year my family and I accumulated just one carrier bag of landfill - the rest was recycled, reused or composted. Of course, the key is to do all your serious thinking BEFORE you reach the checkout - reduce is the number one ;)

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