So I was recently chatting with a student about my day…
student:”what are you up to today?”
matt: “running errands. very exciting. composting, recycling, heading to the bank.”
student: giggling a bit “oh that is sooo MATT.”
me: a bit taken aback, thus time for thought and then write a blog piece that is very important to me and how i live my life daily.
Disclaimer: So right off the bat I want to say that this blog piece is more about responsibility than it is about tree hugging, liberal, progressive, hippie, feel good stuff or whatever more conservative folks like to call it. This has nothing to do with religion, politics, or any other volatile subject. Although I am greatly disappointed in humans that are not responsible for their own actions involving recycling and consumerism, I am not judging anyone. This is meant to be as informative as possible; for I remember in my not too recent past taking much less responsibility for my own behavior in these regards as well.
I used to smoke. I used to buy whatever I wanted with no regard to where it came from or how it got here. I used to throw anything and everything in the trash. I used to think very little of the quality of food going into me. It was all about what was convenient and what I wanted. Total unawareness and lack of any responsibility. Now looking back on it I cant imagine how I did any of that without any kind of conscience.
When a student recently said to me that is “sooo Matt”, it made me pause. Sometimes it is easy to forget that other people are not behaving the same as you. That statement in itself is a lot to think about on many levels. However, shouldnt her statement be something like… “that is sooo human of you to take care of yourself and the world you live in.”
My first thought on this subject is: Why Do Adults Get A Pass?
We tell children to pick up after themselves; to care for their animals or other peoples posessions/property; to behave a particular way in social situations; to BE RESPONSIBLE for everything they do. Does this no longer apply at a certain age? Does this only apply to toys and kid stuff? Why would i NOT recycle? It is being responsible for the things I have bought and consumed. Why would I not compost?
I admit it is hard to compost and recycle in my tiny apartment, but this is not a question of what is easier. It has taken me a while to learn the best and easiest system. To learn what is best to buy due to both the trash a product will create and and how a company making a product behave does take a little bit of work, but there are endless resources out there AND I live in Austin TX! Austin is a great town to find stores selling healthy all around products. This can also be done without a ton of extra spending for fancy products.
For the religiously inclined or the socially conservative that think that how you behave as a consumer is irrelevant, reread the Bible and then read a fantastic book by Matthew Scully called DOMINION. He is a former Bush speech writer and social conservative with a great take based on religion, of what it means to be a steward of your own environment.
For the yogis, study your Yama and Niyama intricately.
Suggestion for Daily Living
I went to target and bought a small 2 gallon size sealable container that now sits on my countertop. I fill it with compost and take it to a friends compost pile every 1.5 weeks. The benefit is that my trash NEVER smells or gets bugs AND my friend gets more compost.
Some folks put compost in a bag in the freezer to keep it from rotting/smelling at all.
I buy only compostable plastic cups, plates, and cutlery for parties and picnics.
To create your own composting pile just look around on the internet briefly. SO many resources to be found.
Recycling: I try to buy only items that come in recyclable packaging if I must get packaging at all.
NOTE: #1 and #2 recycle. #3-#7 get either shipped to Asia to recycle which negates the benefit OR they get pelletized with the addition of sawdust and used for fuel… yuck.
Ecology Action here in Austin takes paper, cardboard, plastic bags, plastics, glass, tin, and aluminum.
Since everything that I consume can be composted or recycled, I throw trash out bi-monthly at the most right now.
Buy local if at all possible. It supports local economy, lessens shipping and gas usage, and you know where it is coming from!
Buy bulk when possible. This means less spending and less packaging!
Bring your own canvas bags and reuse plastic bags for bulk items. ALSO – clean and reuse zip-lock bags and plastic containers at home. ELIMINATE ONE TIME USE ITEMS. When you get chinese food delivered; the usage time of that little pagoda container is a couple hours max, HOWEVER it will get tossed into a plastic bag and then into a landfill and last thousands of years. What a waste. Get the most usage out of everything before you are done with it.
Knowing the ethics of a business that is producing a product takes the most work out of all of it. Just a bit of research involved. I try not to buy from enormous companies i.e. Nestle and Kellog. Often now though they disguise their products as smaller companies to sell to those of us looking for organic labeling. For example; Seeds Of Change is a popular “hippie” brand that is made by Nestle.
For further info read: World Changing: A Users Guide to the 21st Century.
It is your responsibility as an adult human to pick up after yourself. Awareness of what you are doing in your everyday life is an enormous step closer to enlightenment. Being aware of everything you are doing, creating, using, and ingesting is a powerful tool to becoming a better human being. Mental Image: I have this image of Christ, Buddha, Gandhi or any other revered figures sitting there and watching the entire massive scale process of animals getting abused, painfully slaughtered, covered in preservatives, packaged in plastic and styrafoam, and then sitting down and opening the package, eating it happily, and finally digging a hole to throw all the packing into. Wiping the grease off their hands they go to a small hill and begin preaching how to treat ourselves and the world around us. I just dont see it. EVOLVE people. I would think this would be a primary concern to those that are religious and those that are parents. What are you leaving behind? What will have meaning after death?: Inspiration, radiance, compassion, love, and earth for others to enjoy OR fame, fortune, selfishness, cruelty, irresponsibility etc.