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I am one. Maybe one of the worst.
I want to take care of our Earth, so that it can continue taking care of us, but I’m plain bad at it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I recycle, I try not to buy useless things I won’t want after two weeks, I never drink bottled water and try to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
But what about all those other pesky things? Like the stack of magazines I’ve half-read, or the plastic yogurt and milk containers that fill up my recycling quicker than I can yell “Dairy!” And what about all that packaging that comes with the new camera accouterments I just bought for my most recent assignment, or the e-waste of another orphaned cell phone and its charger when I finally bight the bullet and buy a new smart phone.
All that crap adds up. This has always frustrated me. Clutter drives me mad. I get depressed sorting through a drawer full of things I never use, wondering where the stuff came from in the first place, and if it spawns every time I close the drawer.
For six years, beginning when I sailed from San Diego to Costa Rica on Swell with captain Liz Clark, I felt like the only way I could be more self-sufficient and have less of an impact was to sell everything I owned and disappear. Run-off to a distant atoll or obscure village in the Congo, or join a Shamanistic group in Indonesian caves.
But that was before I opened People Magazine at the dentist last week and read about the Johnson family in Mill Valley, California. They’ve given conservation a whole new meaning. I’m talking compostable toothbrushes and buying meat, cheese, and milk in glass jars they bring with them to the market. Bea, the wife and mother of two sons, even makes her own skin scrubs and moisturizers to reduce the packaging from toiletries, not to mention an organic version of every kind of housecleaner you could dream up.
After reading the People article (more of a two-page blurb), I did some research and came across a more thorough article on Bea and her family by Sunset Magazine. It referenced Bea’s blog, The Zero Waste Home. I visited the blog after reading the article, and what did I find? People attacking her for flying home to see her family in France. Her response was basically, “I’m doing my best.”
I immediately fell in love. She’s a hypocrite too, but she doesn’t let it phase her. She’s gonna go right on refining and perfecting her zero-waste life, and if she flies to see her family or to go to Hawaii with the hubby, that’s just sort of how it is for now. Their entire family’s output of trash each year can fit in two hands. When the average American family throws out 2,460 pounds of paper, 540 pounds of metals, 480 pounds of glass and 480 pounds of food scraps each year, 80% of which ends up in landfills, I’d say Bea is doing more than her fair share.
Her example has inspired me to shrink the enviro-hypocrite in me at least a size smaller this year, and to take it a step at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.