Minimizing Waste

 

Emily-McDowell-Tote-Bag

Hilarious bag from Emily McDowell.  Click through to purchase. Just don’t leave it at home.

Up until this point, I’ve been blogging about topics in which I have a reasonable level of experience, and even some “success”, if we can call it that.  Purging, decluttering, fighting consumerism… All things that generally describe the life I’m living right now.

However, when it comes to the subject of MINIMIZING WASTE, I don’t exactly hold my head high.  In fact, I’m pretty ashamed of the amount of waste produced by my daily life.  The issue seems almost insurmountable.  *insert wide eyed emoji here*

Initially I thought I’d hold off on writing about this until I got better at it…  Until I could offer you the “Top 10 Ways to Waste Less” based on my own achievements… Until I could say, “If I did it, you can do it too!”

But then a friend asked if I could write about it.  *GULP*  It felt like I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar.  *What? Who? Me?*  I’m nowhere near where I want to be with this issue, but… I guess it’s probably better to just be honest with where I am instead of waiting because that could take a while.  So here I am, exposing my blatant disregard when it comes to my own wastefulness.  True confessions:

  • I toss things that can be recycled, because I get lazy.
  • I have a knack for forgetting my reusable bags when I go shopping.
  • I buy tons of things that are individually packaged (versus buying in bulk).
  • I use an absurd amount of paper towels in a day.
  • I use disposable diapers.  I mean my SON does. I don’t use diapers.

Obviously the problem isn’t that I was never taught about the importance of minimizing waste. On the contrary, “Recycle-Reduce-Reuse” was one of the many jingles of my childhood, but I’ve turned a blind eye toward the matter for most of my busy adult life.  I didn’t take it seriously until recently, when I watched this Upworthy video about Lauren Singer of Trash Is For Tossers.  

Lauren leads a ZERO WASTE lifestyle and the only way I can describe it is: UNREAL.  While I’m taking out a bag of trash almost every single day (our trash can is small, but still), she was barely able to scrounge up ONE measly mason jar of trash in two whole years.  Everything else had been composted, recycled or simply not purchased.   Watch the video, it’s incredible.  Really made me think.

Why do we produce so much waste?!  I suppose, as with most issues in life, it comes down to two things: Priorities and Perspective.  In America, we seemed to be trained from a young age to seek convenience.  It’s basically handed to us, and we feel strange turning it down.  We’re able to “grab and go” and carry on with our busy lives.  We usually don’t think too far into the matter… BUT if we did, we might consider changing a few things.  We might consider separating compostable items from our actual trash.  We might consider not buying as many bottles and cans.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage a day.  This garbage ends up in landfills across the nation, which create an obvious threat to both our health and the environment, but for most of us, it’s “out of sight, out of mind”.  This is what I meant when I mentioned Perspective.  We really ought to think about the big picture.  We ought to think beyond our busy little lives and think about the world we are leaving behind for our children’s children’s children.

Our choices shape the world, and every little change we’re able to make for the good, truly IS good.  Like I said, I have a ways to go in this department but I’m moving in a positive direction, and I want you to join me. We just have to start somewhere.

I’d love to hear what you’ve done to minimize waste in YOUR life.  Please leave a comment below!

earth-hands-rainbow

TIP SHARE: The 1 Minute Declutter Trick

Thanks to the infinite resourcefulness of the world wide web, I’ve been able to tap into a vast ocean of knowledge shared by other bloggers who are also striving to live a simpler life.  In some weird way, it feels like having a support system who doesn’t even know you.  This journey of owning less, after all, is not all that easy.  It goes against the grain of what society says we ought to be doing with our lives.  But there is a decent-sized army of us, and I can’t tell you how encouraging it is for me.  Sometimes I feel a bit like the slow kid in the back, waving my arms and yelling, “Wait up for me, guys!”  I have so much to learn, and I’m so eager.

One of my favorite blogs to follow is called “Pioneering the Simple Life” and I just have to share with you her tip on decluttering!

CLICK HERE TO READ IT! –> The 1 Minute Declutter Trick

Don’t ask yourself whether the items bring you joy.

Think of the joy you felt when they were off your counters, no longer between you and the front door.

 

The Value of Life 

As many of you probably know, my amazing, beautiful grandmother was called home on Monday morning.  Nanay (Tagalog for “Mom”) as everyone called her, was born on June 2, 1918 and was blessed with 97 years on this earth… 97!  Can you even imagine?  What a rare gift… to have that much time with your loved ones, to be able to see so many changes in the world, to be a part of so many lives.

She and my grandfather had 12 children; their downline of descendants is so great, no one can keep count anymore.  I believe I’m one of 49 grandchildren, there are great grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren.  We have a family tree that makes my head spin and my heart laugh.  It’s fantastic.  Nanay and Tatay left us legacies of love, strength and diligence that I pray will continue on through our own lives.  Because of them, we know how to work hard, how to push through adversity, how to love and respect others, how to be creative and resourceful, how to take risks.  The list goes on and on.  They never had much to their names in terms of material wealth, but what they had to offer our family and the world was worth so much more than anything money could buy.

Since I started this purge project, I’ve been thinking about the value we place on the things that we own – or things we would like to own.  In our day to day lives, we tend to forget that everything will turn to dust when it’s all said and done.  Nothing we own can be taken with us when we complete our course here on this earth.

So why all the fuss?  Why are we so into our things?  Why do we let them carry so much weight?

We live in a society that has taught us that what we own is, essentially, who we are.

The guy with the Tesla.

The woman with the Coach bag.

The family with the house in the hills. 

The things we own often act as tools to label and categorize people.  They reflect status and social class, and consequently put a heck of a lot of pressure on people.  Most of us want to look good and feel good and although most people won’t admit it (and some don’t even realize it) we want to impress others.  Self-image is a sneaky little monster that has crept into our subconscious.  It makes sense.  We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and our brainwaves are slammed with marketing.  “You need this! This will make your life better!”

Obviously I’m not against buying things; people need to buy things. I buy things. Consumerism in itself not the issue. The issue is mindless purchasing.  Couple that with a subconscious obsession with self-image (or a conscious obsession with it for some of you, *ahem* Kanye), and we find ourselves in the danger zone.  Materialism 101.

These days I find myself making a monumental shift in my mentality.  On too many occasions, I’ve roamed the aisles of Target and ended up leaving the store with much more than I intended to buy.  And don’t get me started with online shopping (Amazon Prime can be blessing and a curse.)

Since I started on this road to minimalism a few months ago, I committed to shop more mindfully.  I only buy the things I really need… OR if it’s just something I want for fun, it still needs to be thoroughly justified.  Maybe even wait a while before purchasing, so I have time to think about whether it’s worth it or not.  It feels a lot like eating healthy. Thinking about every bite, every calorie, is it worth it?

Taking it even further, I want to start thinking beyond the purchases themselves and about the people behind them.  Whose lives are being affected? What causes am I supporting? What message am I sending by buying this item? (I’ll blog more on all this later.)

There’s a lot to consider, and I feel like I’ve possibly just rambled senselessly and lost most of you by now.  If you’re still with me, congratulations, and thank you. 😛

I just think about Nanay, how amazing she was, and the impact she left on our family… It’s a great reminder of what truly matters.

We are here on earth to live life to the fullest, to love and be loved.  It’s never about what you own, but rather what you have to offer.  If each of us could make that our primary focus, we would be moving in the right direction as a community… And what a beautiful thing that would be.  We’d make our grandparents proud.

3 generations