Unreasonable Amounts of Garbage

Back in Idaho, we were green accidentally.

In true survivalist/homeschooling/country family fashion, we raised our own animals for meat, grew our own vegetables, and bought in bulk what we couldn’t make ourselves. Mom’s favorite summer time activity was to show up at the house with approximately 300 peaches from the local farmer’s market, that she would meticulously peel, slice, and can so we could have peaches all winter and all through the zombie apocalypse.

We did composting, we did recycling, we used washcloths and linen napkins in place of disposables, and we weren’t even really trying, because that’s just what all the other survivalist homeschooling country families were doing. You just did it.

Then I moved into an upper-class suburban family of three to six boys, and there is so. Much. Trash.

At some point my credit score crept up to “inundate with offers” level, and I began to get three or four credit card offers in the mail a week. And this was TERRIBLE.

“Look at all this junk mail!” I would cry, holding up the single envelope I had retrieved from my employer’s 30cm mail stack. My employers would give me sympathetic looks while I ranted extensively, even as they sorted through their fifteen daily catalogues.

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Sample of the catalogues this house receives daily.

I put myself on every “do not contact” list I could think of, immediately called to get myself off any catalogue I randomly received, and transferred all my bills to paperless. But it was too late, the itch was already under my skin.

Every day I make the kids snacks for school. Three to six snack bags holding a disposable drink container and a prepackaged, meticulously wrapped processed snack or plastic baggie holding goldfish crackers. I’ve started searching for reusable containers in the house for their snacks, but when things are Done A Certain Way around here, they stay DACW forever. None of the boys will appreciate being given reusable water bottles.

I realized that even though I was reusing the same plastic water bottle until it wore out, I was still going through one every week and a half. And this was TERRIBLE (even though it goes in the recycling). Because, of course, this house isn’t under my control, will never be under my control, and it’s really about how much waste they will always put out. When you live rent-free in your employer’s home, you just shut up and let them do what they do.

So instead of focusing on my host family, I’ve gradually been changing up my waste output. I discovered, to my delight, that there was a Zero Waste movement out there that offers suggestions for phasing out excessive trash, and I’m incorporating that into my own life, if not the kids’. Metal water bottle, bamboo toothbrush, reusable grocery bags, bulk foods.

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In short, I’ve become one of those people. I had avacado toast and did yoga this morning. It’s only a matter of time until I have white-person dreadlocks and a “Meat is Murder” t-shirt.

 It’s not perfect and it won’t be perfect until I have a place of my own, but at least I can try to watch what I’m buying.

But no composting in the backyard, that’s frowned on around here.

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