However, we have a preponderance of recycling to go out this week. While I feel much better about the amount of waste headed out trapped in plastic bags, taking up landfill space, I'm a bit bothered by the overall waste we're putting out. Because recycling still is waste, just less so. It takes energy to transport, energy to process, energy to transform...and all of that takes money too. City money that might be better spent elsewhere...if I cut down our overall output of packaging.
So a reality check. The 3 R's:
They aren't in that order randomly.
I've done some of this with turning the lights off, using a clothes line, switching to cloth diapers (which also has a reuse element to it), putting in vinyl windows to reduce our heating & a/c use. I've also done a bit of this with buying in bulk, reducing packaging. We've also reduced our driving time by moving near everything we do. We used to fill the gas tank every 6-7 days. I filled it today. The last time we put gas in the van was September 10th. 25 days ago. That is phenomenal. I was hoping to make it 4 weeks, but we were just a bit short of that. Still...25 days on a tank of gas...
Now, I'm going to do something I don't often do:
Reducing means buying less. Buying things, consuming, is antithetical to a green lifestyle. Always. Doing without is the greenest option. We all have a number of things we just have to have. We have to eat. We need shelter and clothing. And when we make those purchases, we need to make them as wisely as possible to do the least amount of consumption, the least damage we can. But consumerism kills the planet.
I may be shooting myself in the foot with this next bit, but it's heavy on my mind. (Oy! What a metaphor mishmash I've created. Soap boxes and foot shooting and mind weights, oh my!) "Green giveaways" are NOT living up to the pursuit of sustainability. I'm following a slew of blogs right now to learn as much as I can about living the most eco-friendly lifestyle possible. There are parents around the globe trying their hardest to be good stewards of the planet we are leaving our children, and I truly appreciate the work they are doing. So many of these blogs are offering giveaways. Eco-toys, eco-books, eco-make-up. And I get it. Money is tough. I'd love to help my family with my writing, and I know that sponsorship is a huge deal, as is getting free things for your family. And I'll admit I've entered a couple of giveaways trying to get cloth diapers for Girl 2. Those things are expensive, and we really can't afford many.
But I think I have to stop. It's hypocritical. Because shipping one cloth diaper across the country is a waste. Shipping a box of wooden blocks from NYC to Idaho is a waste. Buying local is reducing. Buying less...that's even better. Asking, "What can I buy so that I'm more Earth-friendly?" is like asking, "What can I eat so that I lose weight?" Both are fair questions, to a point. But really we should ask, "Can I cut this out? Do I really need this?" Endless acquisition is toxic.
Junk Lady from Henson's "Labyrinth"
Minimalism is really the only true path to sustainability. That's hard for me to say. I like stuff. I want things. I hate my cell phone. I want a new one. I want new clothes, books, a bike...My computer is slow, I'd like an iPad...or even a laptop. I have five children! I'm hardly the picture of minimalism. Just the other day I posted my pages and pages of to-dos...not a minimalist lifestyle. I need to work harder to pare away the crap.
Every single choice we make affects someone on this planet. That sounds overblown, but it isn't. What I buy affects the economy and jobs. It affects wildlife and plant life. It affects the people who see me with my new acquisition. It affects my children. Some things are small, and not a huge deal, others are significant. But every purchase/action has an effect. We talk about purchasing power, but in a capitalist society it's easy to overlook the power of putting your wallet back in your pocket.
There are two more "R's" to discuss... but I'm feeling a bit like I've shouted in church. Reusing and Recycling can wait for another day.