Monday, July 1, 2019

The Hard Choices

I got inspired this morning by a short video from The Good Stuff about a young fashion designer in New York who makes clothing made entirely from fabric scraps that would have gone in the trash. You can see it here .

In the video he also talks about trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle. That made me squirm a little bit. I have recently been struggling with the fact that all the things I wish were recyclable aren’t really recyclable. I guess that’s why they call it “wishcycling”. It challenges my longtime practice of justifying purchases because I can just “recycle the packaging.”

Clamshell containers with precut fruit or bakery items or deli sandwiches? Nope. I have come face to face with the reality that if I choose that level of convenience, then I have to put that clamshell into the trash, headed to a landfill. Ugh...

When my younger daughter was a baby, I exhorted the rest of the family with this mental picture:

No you don’t have to recycle that. Just put it in a bag and toss it in the baby’s room, because she’ll end up having to deal with it eventually.

No, I wasn’t playing fair. And yes, I did gain some traction with that line of thinking, although I probably changed more behavior simply by persisting in the behavior of recycling, week after week. The fashion designer puts it like this:

Living a zero waste lifestyle isn’t a religion. It’s a practice.

You have to work at it every day. Some days are better than others. But you keep at it.

Rather like blogging, I suppose.

I just read that aluminum pie pans and aluminum take-out containers are no longer recyclable locally. This is breaking my brain a little. How is this even possible? I have a stack of rinsed pans from Halal Guys by the kitchen sink. They appear to be staging a sit-in.

It occurs to me that I can wash them and set them aside for the holidays, make new decorative lids, and use them for the cookie and candy gifts I make this year. It’s a start.

We have multiple opportunities for recycling in Howard County but the truth is that recycling doesn’t come close to touching the enormous amount of waste that we generate every day. Making different choices requires changing our day to day lives and changing how we think.

That’s far more difficult.

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