Can I rant here for a minute? We have way too much stuff. And when we’re through with it, where does it go? Well usually, right in the trash. The evidence is all around us. Check out any landfill. Plain and simple, we’re a disposable society. Two thirds of what you see doesn’t need to be there! Forty percent of that manmade mountain is paper and twenty-five percent is yard or kitchen waste. Which means, nearly all of it can be composted or at least recycled.
As gardeners, that should resonate for two reasons. First, landfills are the single largest manmade source of methane gas in America — a greenhouse gas that’s 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Secondly, all that “stuff” could be compost instead. Need I say more?
Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. I hope so. We gardeners are an impressive force, about 90 million strong! And yet, we’re still only a slice of the pie compared to the general population, whom we can influence every day. But until we walk our talk, we have no right to complain or expect our circle of influence to change one bit.
I try not to let things get to me, but when you’re passionate about something, like I am about stewardship and sustainability, you can’t help but get a little emotional about it sometimes. These days, I can’t bring myself to throw a plastic bottle in the trash. (For the record, I don’t like plastic bottles). But when one finds its way into my hands, I’ll carry it around indefinitely until it’s disposed of appropriately. And the same goes for other recyclables. Sometimes I’ll even pick out bottles and cans from the trash or sidewalks. I tell you this not to toot my own horn to be sure. But rather to say, actions repeated often enough, and with passion and purpose behind it, can lead to … obsession? Maybe — but albeit a healthy one.
So where do we begin in our journey of reducing, reusing and recycling? Anywhere would be a good place, and one step at a time is the perfect speed. You already know there’s a million ways to start, so just pick one, and then do it consistently. Repetition leads to habits and a mindset that expands you thinking and actions into other ways to practice the three Rs. Start by using less. And what you do use, use it again. And for everything else, recycle or compost it. We need to stop being a disposable society! It’s amazing just how much of what we have and use, doesn’t need to go back into the waste stream. Our actions at home and in the marketplace should reflect that. Case in point — our social media director Christa, even brings her own bamboo utensils wherever she goes, rather than opting for the throwaway plastic that comes with everything we eat on the road.
Changing a lifetime of behavior is not an easy thing to do. Yet that can be a good thing in the case of positive habits. My dream is that a generation from now, behavior related to the three R’s will be standard operating procedure for all of us. I dream about the time when no conscience or extra effort is required for every person on this planet to do their part at making this world a better and more sustainable place, simply because it’s the right thing to do and that’s just how it is, end of story. And that’s a habit we can all live with.