A quart of garbage. That is what zero-waste guru Bea Johnson’s family of four produces. In. An. Entire. Year. The image keeps popping into my head each Tuesday night, when I drag our trash can out to the curb. Let’s be honest, we’ll probably never get there, but I did take a baby step towards zero-waste today….I called and ordered a smaller trash can. Now we’ll have no choice but reduce our trash.
When we sort out recyclables and all compostable materials, there’s not a whole lot left, especially with our goal this year of reducing/refusing plastic. There is one BIG caveat though, and it’s a dirty one: Disposable diapers. I’ll spare you the photos of our overflowing trash can, because I’m kind of ashamed. And it’s just freakin’ gross.
When our first son was a baby, we used cloth diapers, but the second time around I guess we got lazy. But I’ve also heard the argument that cloth diapers can be just as bad, environmentally, as their disposable counterparts. I’m no scientist, but there are some convincing points. Obviously, the greenest option would be to go diaper-free. Apparently, this is a growing trend, but let’s not get crazy. Maybe if we had no carpets, no rugs, a full-time housekeeper, etc…Let’s face it, for our family, disposable diapers are part of our life right now. We do, however, opt for “greener” products, which use naturally-derived materials, with no chlorine or added chemicals. There are a lot of options out there these days, and lots of reviews and info on the web (like here and here and here).
Maybe another goal for 2017 should be to get our little dude potty trained. That would mean no diapers by the time he’s 22 months old. That’s possible, right??? And in the meantime, we’ll just have to really reduce all the other garbage so it can fit in the new smaller trash can that we’ll have starting next week. I’m up for the challenge.
I’m making 2017 the “Year of Less”. Less resources, less plastic, less stuff. Sounds fun, doesn’t it??? In all seriousness, though, it’s time we did something to help create positive change – especially with the current state of our government, politics and nation.
My “Year of Less” will involve making sacrifices, saying no, and resisting temptation, but it isn’t about deprivation. I’m setting goals for my family that are within reach, goals that we’ll meet (and, ideally, exceed!), goals that make sense for us. Here are my four simple goals for 2017:
1. Less resources Drive less, walk & bike more
Assess and improve home efficiency 2. Less plastic Avoid plastic products and unnecessary packaging
3. Less stuff Acquire fewer things
Choose used, handmade, local, green options
4. Spread the word!
Document my experiments, research, ideas and musings (on this blog)
Encourage stores and companies to “think greener”
Write/call/email law- and policy-makers
Less is more, right??? I truly believe that by lightening up on those things our family can create more room for the most important things in life – more creativity, more time outdoors, more joy. Who could say no to that???
I grew up in the country, with hippy parents who grew their own food and made their own tofu. My sister and I spent more time outdoors than in during our early years, exploring the creeks, woods, and wild blueberry patches surrounding our home in upstate New York. Exploring the natural world was an important part of my elementary school education, I spent summers at farm camp, and my family spent vacations watching the wild horses at the beaches of the Chesapeake, swimming in the Long Island sound, and camping in the woods of Maine. No one called it “environmentalism”, but I grew up with a great respect for the earth and its creatures. And I’ve always wanted the same for my children.
When Lily and Missy approached me with the idea for this challenge and the blog, I have to admit I had gotten a little off track. Life with two small kids is all-consuming and I’ve found myself compromising on a lot these past few years, just to get through each day. But our kids are the most important reason for why we should care about what happens to our planet. What’s that saying?? We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Well, we haven’t been taking very good care of it, and I want to do something to change that.
Although it may seem that we are each such small players in this big picture of climate change and global warming, I am an eternal optimist and I truly believe that everyone can do something. How can we afford not to???