The living with intention concept is popping up madly in my day-to-day. Like in that game, “Whack-A-Mole”. I try to thwack it down, but the “pay attention to me” and this alternative, but necessary way to live is wagging a finger in my face refusing to be ignored.
Starting the Path to Intentional Living
The seed of living my life intentionally began (again) in earnest while I was visiting Japan. I was super impressed by many things in Japan, but the two most impactful things was the utter lack of trashcans and the washlets. I found myself turning in circles looking for trashcans and there were NONE. Anywhere. (more about the washlets in a separate post, maybe.) The culture around the “I’ll take it to go” mindset that’s deeply ingrained in my American psyche was disrupted. There are 7-Elevens and the like on every corner in Japan’s major cities. I practically lived at the Family Mart. I ate a lot of sushi, onigiri, chicken on a stick and drank gallons of Kirin Milk Tea, but I didn’t know what to do with my plastic bottles, wrappers etc. (since there were no trashcans around). I quickly learned that it’s expected that you take your trash home and throw it away there.
I was appalled at how much trash I generated. I began to take notice of my personal waste footprint and I realized, to my embarrassment, how mindless and irresponsible it is of me to casually throw away so much trash. At home in the US, I was blissfully unaware of my actions. I throw things away, bit by bit, as I move through the day and what I was doing didn’t really compute, (la la la – that’s me with my head up my ass, la la la), but if you haul trash around in your bag all day and throw it all away it at once…it hits home.
If little old me has that much trash at the end of each day; how much does a family, a village, a town, a city, a nation, a country, a continent? And then I almost fainted from overwhelm. A few weeks after my return from Japan, and accepting my cowardice for never clicking on news stories about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I sat down and read about the swirling vortex of trash and thought about how much of that garbage is actually mine and I felt like shit.
>Forward> <Backward< >Forward>
Back in 2008, my family and I moved super ahead in living with intention. We composted. We gardened. I dried our clothes on a line in my backyard. We did it for a few years and then the kids got older and the whole after-school activities weekend sports took up all my time. It’s hard to mother, wife, work full-time, dry the clothes on the line and also tend a garden. Too hard. I gave up the garden and the clothes line. Who’s life goes two steps forward and then one step back? Two steps forward ~ Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat. Mine does.
I’ll call this Phase Two: The Redux.
Back to intentional living. During the kid-raising phase, life tended to steamroll forward and I was semi-unaware of life outside the parenting loop. Some years later, I’ve popped out the other side and I’m sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, looking around. Fuck, what happened? The kids are in college (or jail or wherever) and my awareness of a world beyond parenting is back in focus. I was thinking I should jump back into eyes wide shut mode, but I can’t. I don’t have the “I’m raising children” excuse or “I’m too busy being a wife” excuse anymore to do sit around and stare at my nails.
Anyway, the climate is fucked.
Zero waste project.
Zero waste project who?
Exactly, zero waste projects experimented on, so get on it, girl or lady or woman 🙂 Who am I? That’s another story.
The Zero Waste Project
What is Zero Waste? Well, every person leaves a personal waste footprint. I’ve left a detestable waste footprint on the Earth (being the mindless bumbler that I am). Zero Waste is a movement towards an increased awareness of our personal trash footprint and finding solutions leading to a decrease in the amount of trash going into landfills, oceans and other places. (I made that definition up. Maybe I’ll use it for my pitch to some angel investors or something when I go big).
Two weeks ago, I did my first personal waste inventory. What’s a personal waste inventory? It’s a starting point, mostly. I laid out my week’s trash on the kitchen floor and examined it.
If you want to nerd out with me, watch the Initial Trash Analysis video HERE.
My trash told me a sad story. With the data points collected, I mapped out some very simple steps to less waste production (like I’m a bona fide trash scientist).
Making the Jump to Zero Waste
Baby Steps. Practically everything is our society is wrapped up “to go”. Think about the grocery store. Even our vegetables that have their own protective skin come wrapped in plastic or we put them in plastic bags. Why do we need to put them into something? That makes no sense and hasn’t ever made sense to me. People get stupid upset when I throw my veggies into the cart with no plastic protection.
The convo generally goes like this:
Person: “OMG, that’s disgusting. What are you doing? Put your veggies in a plastic bag!
Paige: “Why? To protect them from what? The plastic bag the check out person is about to put them in? The air? Acid rain?”
Paige: “You are simply doing what everyone else is doing and not super thinking about your impact.” Some see the point. Some don’t.
It’s like a plastic conspiracy to make us “think” we need all this plastic for hygienic purposes. We don’t. It’s not keeping us healthy; it’s killing us.
Easy First Steps to Get Started (anyone can do it!)
Solution: Bulk staples. I buy my pasta, oats, peanut butter and coffee in bulk. I bring my own mason jars from home and fill them up at the store.
Problem: Paper coffee filters
Solution: Reusable coffee filter. No more filters are going in the trash.
Problem: Paper towels
Solution: Dishtowels for clean up and cloth napkins at the dinner table.
Problem: Polyurethane kitchen sponges
Solution: All natural Japanese Tawashi brushes. These are seriously bad ass.
Problem: Plastic water bottles
Solution: Pack your own reusable water bottle before you leave for the day.
Problem: “To go” coffee or tea plastic cups
Solution: Pack your own reusable coffee cup before you leave for a day out.
Tip: If you’re having a coffee or tea at the “to go” restaurant (starbucks etc.) …ask for a ceramic cup. What a novelty!
Don’t lose any more sleep over how much trash is being produced and ACT. I dare you.
Join me on my journey to Zero Waste. Next video is coming soon.