Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Please click on the picture for an eye-opening larger view.

This is a very, very large subject. The way we live in America today dictates that unless we reduce consumption of pretty much everything, we will use up the earth's resources in no time. So much is wrong with the excess we bring into our lives, and last night for some reason I just felt so sick and tired of all of it. Someone has lit the proverbial fire under my ass and I just cannot abide by it anymore. There are so many different little things we can do to reduce all the negative outputs of our homes. Trash, biodegradable waste, water usage and waste, carbon emissions, electricity usage, fossil fuel, everything. We not only use so much but waste so much as well, which is just adding insult to injury. I really feel the need to reduce everything I use, and eliminate everything I waste.

I remember feeling this way for the first time in my first year of college...
When I was living with my parents my mom always taught me good habits when it came to conserving water and energy... "Turn off the light when you leave the room! You're wasting electricity!"... "Don't take so long in the shower, you're wasting water!"... The usual mom stuff. She was not afraid to give me crap about it and I believe that's why it stuck. When I was growing up we did not have a lot of money, so I think that she was doing it more for financial reasons than environmental, but it helped all the same. But along with conserving utilities, my mom was always trying to find ways to help people who had less than we did. When we moved to our small town there were no school-based coat drives, canned food drives, or anything of that sort. My mom single-handedly started programs like these at all the schools in our area, and the programs remain today, almost two decades later. When I was little I remember her taking me with her as she bought lunch for the homeless man who was living under an overpass near our house. She taught me the values that I carry with me to this day - she taught me how lucky we were to have what we had, because so many people had so much less, and that to waste what we had is one one of the worst things we can do. We always donated our old stuff to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army, knowing that it would go to people who could still use it. That was one of the biggest things she ingrained in me.

So back to college... On the last day of school, when everyone was moving out of the dorms, I was taking my boxes of stuff to my car and I walked past the dumpster. I noticed that there were people throwing away so much perfectly usable stuff - dishes, clothes, even furniture. There was a group of guys who were throwing out a storage cabinet, one that would have cost 60-100 dollars new, taken wood, glue, chemicals, and energy to produce, and they tossed it off a balcony, smashing it on the ground and leaving it there. I just remember thinking, What is wrong with these people? I felt so sad and angry that there were people who didn't think, didn't even care about what they were throwing away, and I just wanted to grab them and shake some sense into them, but I knew they probably wouldn't listen.

So I got boxes, pulled everything usable out of the dumpster, packed the boxes and furniture into my car and drove it to the local donation drop-off. I felt so good about what I did, instead of ignoring it or joining in it like everyone else, and I think that's where my whole realization of the problems my generation faces began. We're all turning into a bunch of frat boys throwing good furniture off a balcony, and we need to stop a sec and think, really think, about what we are throwing away.

I want to explore my options when it comes to reducing what I use and waste. From a purely self-centered point of view, it will save me quite a bit of money in the long and even in the short term. And since I hate hauling big heavy bags of trash and recyclables down the stairs it will reduce the frequency of those events and make me a happy clam. So why not do it, a little bit at a time, and gain money and free time from it while helping to reduce what goes into the local dump? I have some ideas brewing and will post them as I go, and I'd really like to hear what other people are doing too, if there is anyone reading this thing yet!

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