Big Can, Little Can

One of the things that happened during my time away from writing here was a step towards being a zero-waste home.

I’d always said that it wasn’t possible for us and then postponed working towards the goal because of that “perfection” thing again.  We’d recycle on and off, but never really committed to the ideal.

I guess you could say that my mantra for this year is:

Don’t let perfect get in the way of better, or good, or good enough.

Almost two months ago we got busy.  I researched recycling in our area and gathered information.  We don’t have curbside recycling, but do have a recycling center relatively close.  I typed up a detailed list of what can and can’t be recycled in our area. It’s attached to the top of our recycling can.

And speaking of our recycling can…

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The big can used to be our trash can and the little one our recycling.  They have now switched service.

Our big blue curbside trash can was always stuffed full on pick-up day with at least two more big black bags stacked alongside.

Since tackling our trash problem, we rarely have more than two small white trash bags of garbage each week.  And that’s for eight people living in the house (one in diapers).  I know, cloth diapers are a thing.  I’ve tried in the past and maybe we’ll try again.  Baby steps…

We’ve become more aware of what we are buying.  There have been times that we looked at a product and decided to find an alternative because there was too much packaging that needed to be dealt with.

Driving to the recycling center is kind of a pain, but we are working it into our schedule.  We store the recycling in big tubs (that we already had because of our decluttering efforts).  They stack in the hallways until they are full to cut down on trips.

Our compost pile is filling up and our chickens eat any food that isn’t suitable for the compost pile.  We have accomplished zero food waste.

We aren’t doing  it all perfectly, but we are doing better!

 

 

 

 

Watching

Today, I was back in my studio determined to give it another go.  I pulled out a small box of papers – you know, the kind of stuff mixed media artists collect – small images, bits of color and pattern, quotes, and other bits of ephemera that might be useful somewhere, sometime.  Talk about micro-managing.  I’m hip-deep in unmade decisions regarding canvases and half-finished works and I’m sorting through bits of paper that are inspiring new projects.

Anyway, about that time I heard the roaring rumble of the trash truck pulling around in our cul-de-sac.  I stepped to the window and watched.  Watched as the two guys labored tossing my five extra trash bags (as allowed by our trash service) into the pit of the truck and then attached our giant can full of debris onto the ramp and dumped it in with the rest of my discards.  Watched as the mechanism smashed it and compacted it with the rest of my neighbors trash.  Thought about my next door neighbors tiny little bag of trash.  Thought about how much I was sending to the landfill.  Knowing that I had recycled and donated what I could and there was still so much…

So much stuff.  So many regrets.  Wondering what the trash guys thought of me and my piles of bags each week.

I watched as they drove away with the stuff I had thrown away and the emotions that trailed behind them – sadness, regret, anxiety, fear, loss.

And stood there with the remnants of those emotions, but mainly with a feeling of relief, pride, and a sense of accomplishment.  And felt so much lighter.

It’s all well and good to proclaim that it’s just stuff – that we are not our belongings, but…

for a lot of us, the stuff is just a symptom of past trauma and abuse.  It’s  the way we coped with things we didn’t understand and couldn’t deal with.  The decluttering effort is therapy.  There is no quick solution.  It’s laborious and difficult and challenging.  It’s tears and anger, sorrow and grieving.

But, today as I was watching that big truck pull out of sight around the corner…those five bags transformed into “just stuff” as I finally let them go.