Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Both in Central America and Africa, outside of each home was a metal wire box on a stand: the stand used to set the box high enough off the ground to prevent the dogs from reaching inside. Inside the box was only room for one or two trash bags, and not the thirty-three gallon bags we use here in the United States.
On garbage collection days, many of our neighbors placed only a couple of supermarket size bags in their boxes. It was shameful to see that our box was stacked to the point of overflowing with our trash bags. Not only did we throw away a lot but the garbage collectors always went through our bags before throwing them into the truck as, to them, some of what we threw away was worth salvaging.
Our neighbors’ ate mostly rice, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables. They sparingly used shampoo, conditioner and other supplies, and often recycled the containers. Rarely were their boxes filled with papers, tin cans, juice and milk boxes and paper towels. Never was food thrown away as they lived paycheck to paycheck, and ate all of what they purchased each week. Nothing spoiled for lack of desire to eat what was in their refrigerators.
My workers always referred to my pantry as the ‘pulperia’ (mini-super) and my medicine cabinet as a ‘farmacia’. Even living in the land of little I was living the life of plenty and a life of waste.
Now, living in Southern California, I am even more aware of the waste we produce. We feel good about recycling but fill up at least one recycling bin a week. That is not really conserving the world’s resources but more like making myself feel good about the amount of my trash.
We even have to buy bigger and better garbage bins in which to put our trash. I tried to find a picture of the garbage bins I am referring to from overseas but there are none. Yet there are thousands of of photos of those we use here in the US. I wonder why!
In pondering this, I began to think about buying things in bulk then refilling the original containers. I stopped the newspaper, donate as much as I can, refuse flyers and leave my bulletin at church to be reused. But it ultimately boils down to the fact that we live in a land of plenty but also a land of waste.
Ghandi said, “Live simply so that others can simply live”. Living in a land of plenty is not an excuse to buy. For every item we use: every gallon of water, plastic or metal container, we are taking from the resources that generations after us will need. I’m feeling convicted right now.
What are you doing to cut down on waste? I’d like to hear some good ideas?
Posted by Shanda at 6:45 AM