After a two-week Sabbath from 7, we are back at it again this week. Even though I’ve had two weeks to think about it, finding my 7 for Waste week has been challenging. Jen did zero recycling (or really anything green) before she did her waste reduction. We already recycle almost everything we can. Our recycling bin and our garbage bin are the same size. The recycling bin is full every two weeks when it is picked up; the garbage bin is hardly ever full after two weeks (but it goes out anyway so it doesn’t stink up the garage). We down-sized our SUV a couple of years ago and we also have a hybrid car.
I largely use environmentally friendly dish and laundry soap. I buy 100% recycled toiled paper (I recommend Green Forest over Seventh Generation). We hardly ever buy bottled water – although we do consume other beverages that are in plastic bottles. We keep our house at 67 in the winter and at 75 (if we have to turn on the air conditioning) in the summer. I walk around the house and turn lights off (constantly). Added to the list, now, is textile recycling for clothes that cannot be donated for reuse (thanks to Clothing week in 7!). The low-hanging fruit has already been plucked.
Here is my 7 for Waste week:
- Limit showers to 3 minutes.
- Do not drive my car unless it is to pick / drop-off another person.
- Build a vertical garden (which will happen next week when my Dad is here).
- Find / buy a rain barrel to water my vertical garden.
- Modified 7 clothing items: absolutely wear it again (and again) until it’s dirty.
- Research how to compost and how to begin this with minimal cost.
- Find a CSA.
I need to drive Eldest and his friend to school so they can take their golf clubs for practice tonight. To maximize my use of fossil fuel emissions, I arranged to do a couple of errands at the same time. This was a partial fail, however, because the UPS Store wasn’t open so I picked up a few groceries while I was waiting – but without my cloth grocery bag. I limited it to one paper bag (always get the paper rather than the plastic!) but it still felt like a 7 fail.
After a 7-mile run and a quick shower, I put on yesterday’s clothes. It is only going to be in the 50’s today and it is WINDY, so I was not looking forward to biking to church for my meeting this afternoon. Dave asked if it was allowable for him to drive me since he was going out to get some groceries (this time WITH the cloth bags). It seemed to meet the criteria, so I enjoyed the car ride.
I’m still wearing the same clothes and it’s still cold out. I avoided a cold bike ride to get a haircut, because Dave was going to play basketball. Both yesterday and today, I would have normally driven myself to my appointments and Dave would have driven himself. It really wasn’t a big deal for me to go early and stay late to both (I always have a book to read) so that we could carpool. As part of our western culture, I highly value both my convenience and my time. I value them despite the cost of owning/driving a second car and the additional gas. I value them above the damage they do to the environment.
Last week when we were on vacation, our garbage was picked up every day outside the house. I didn’t see a recycling bin anywhere. I sought out a resident to tell me where to recycle because I could not bring myself to put bottles, cans and boxes into the garbage. He told me where I could find the dumpsters back in the resort administration area. It would have been easier and more convenient to just put it all in the garbage, but of all weeks I certainly should have had the time to make the extra trip to recycle (which I did in an electric golf cart) since I’m on vacation!
Also last week, we were buying a few items at the grocery store and we needed toilet paper. Youngest made a comment that we usually get recycled toilet paper and it really wasn’t that bad compared to regular toilet paper. This, too, is a matter of my own convenience. The bleached white, really soft toilet paper might be nice but do I need it at the expense of forests, clean water, and my health?
Recycling is great, but I don’t know if it does us much good if we don’t also use goods made with recycled material. When you consider how many paper products we consume in our homes, this seems to be a place where we can make a daily difference. In looking at various articles, I was also reminded that we could also go one step further and largely avoid paper products at home. A bidet, a washcloth and a handkerchief would go a long way to reducing our environmental impact of both our natural resources and the waste we produce.
Here’s a link to find healthy and environmentally friendly paper products.
I signed up for a CSA today. We joined one several years ago, but the kids were younger and none of us ate as many vegetables. We’ve been eating more this year plus making smoothies, so I’m excited about the opportunity to participate in a CSA again. Each week, for 20 weeks, we’ll pick up fresh, organic, locally-grown vegetables – some of which will have been picked the same day! We’ll get a mix over the season, and I’ll give beets one more try.
We’ll also have fresh veggies from our vertical garden. One reason to grow some of our own food is certainly cost, but it’s also about health and flavor. Most of what we buy in the grocery store has been modified to be pesticide/herbicide resistant and be able to be shipped and held for long periods of time after it was picked. This yields in food that is not a nutritional (or flavorful) as what we think it is. I found a few sites that have “heirloom”/ non-GMO seeds. These can be hard to find, because most seeds in stores are produced by the food industry giants. I’m excited to try some non-traditional standards (dragon carrots!). I’ve also done initial research on composting. Composting containers can be pretty expensive, so I’ve also looked for ways to build my own.
One of the interesting discussions we had as our group met this morning was on water. Even though I reduced my showers to three minutes or less, I was still washing in DRINKING WATER. Almost 800 million people do not have access to safe drinking water – to drink. As we discussed everything we use high-quality drinking water for, it is really quite shaming. The difficulty, though, is what we can do about it? My house is plumbed to take potable water to every tap and faucet in the house. I guess the first step is being aware. The second is just using less water (like timing our showers) each day. The rain barrel I’m getting will also make a difference. It will take more time, but my garden and plants do not need drinking water to thrive.
The challenge all week was the overwhelming nature of each waste reduction I encountered. The drop in the bucket of individual reductions in consumption seems to be only an inconsequential drop in the ocean. Everything action could go further and further.
So do we go completely off the grid or just give up?
As I was reflecting on these things on a bike ride last week, I thought that it was a little bit like voting. We could believe our vote to be futile and not really matter. But what if everyone thought that way? It’s the same with our faith. Individually, we are not going to bring the Gospel to every person on earth. But when we begin with the people we live with, day-in and day-out, we do our part as a member of the Body of Christ. The same is true for being good stewards of God’s creation.
But as it is, God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted. If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body? But as it is, there are many parts but one body. So the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” or in turn, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. – 1 Corinthians 12:18-21, 26-27 (CEB)