Days 365+48 waste basketsI interrupt this story of giving-away “S’s” because Lent has just started again and I have a new plan. In 2010 and 2011, I was giving things away. In 2012, I ate on $4.50/day. This Lent I’ve decided to waste less. It’s my attempt to create less trash as a way to honor God’s creation and decrease how much garbage I heap on the earth. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and am not sure how well I will do or if it will made any difference. After all, Jim and I are just two people in a world of  7 billion (give or take a couple people). Besides, we already recycle glass, plastic, cans and a whole bunch of stuff that we give away. We take reusable cloth bags when shopping and do a simplified form of composting. We’ve even downsized our garbage can. Can we do much more? We’ll see.

My plan is twofold:

  1. Recycle more vigilantly by learning what additional things might be recycled and where to take them.
  2. Pre-cycle by trying to buy less packaging that would need to later be discarded.

Each week I will measure how much garbage I’ve created and see how low I can go.

In thinking this through I thought I’d need some rules to avoid becoming overly compulsive or stinking up the house. Therefore:

I won’t count as garbage:

  1. Anything that I will recycle (paper, plastic bags, plastic containers, glass, cans…)
  2. Anything that goes into the compost pile or down the disposal.
  3. Anything that goes down the toilet. (Although when I spent time in Southeast Asia and Africa I learned that some cultures don’t use toilet paper, I’m not going to that degree of “purity.”)

I will count:

  1.  Anything that I would normally put in the weekly garbage collection (Although I plan to save my treasured waste in see-through containers, at least for the first few weeks, so I can measure it.)

I suspect that the hardest part of this will be grocery shopping where it’s hard to avoid pre-packaged food. What will we do about milk? The organic milk we usually buy only comes in waxed cartons. Can those be recycled? I’ll have to find out. Anybody know?

Cheating: I’ve already caught myself cheating. Since I knew I was going to start on Ash Wednesday, I made sure that I put several larger non-recyclables in last Monday’s pick-up so it wouldn’t count. I’m justifying this as sort of a Mardi Gras splurge before Lent.