Drying Out

There are days when I wonder why we even bother trying to live in a way that produces less waste. Does it really matter, I sometimes ask myself, if I don’t buy the bag of chips or the new hair clip or whatever else it is I want so badly? Almost everything in our culture – from the aisles lined with spiffily packaged food to the promise of the American Dream – tells me that the answer is no. In fact, there are days when not buying my kid crackers seems downright ridiculous.

But more and more, what’s absurd isn’t my cart of rye flour and raisins in muslin bags. What’s absurd are those bursting aisles of boxes and bags and cans and jars that seem less like a source of sustenance and more like a clean and well lit landfill. I don’t see the food anymore, just the waste.

The rushing river of consumerism moves so quickly, with so much force, that when we are caught in it, it is almost impossible to tell how carried away we’ve become. Without making this commitment to living without plastic for even a few months, it would have been close to impossible for me to sit on the banks, watching all the cool stuff get swept by.

I feel, sometimes, like one of the addicts I used to nurse at the hospital. Just as I start drying out from that rushing river you might call Modern Consumer Culture, I start asking what’s one small hit/bag of chips going to do? I’m ready to jump back into the current, to get swept away again.

Because of that vow, I am discovering ways to drown out the all-pervasive voice of culture and advertising and a whole lifetime of pretty much getting what I want. And I look at that bag of chips and ask two new questions: How was the earth harmed to make this? How will the earth be harmed when I throw it away?

I can’t always articulate an answer, but the gist of it steers me back to the bulk food aisle, or home to do some knitting, or for a walk on the land. Like any addict, I sometimes ask the higher power for help. The moment passes. And I feel relieved to be sitting out the deluge, drying out little by little.

8 Replies to “Drying Out”

  1. Kyce ~ Once again, I am so inspired by you! I think my “one small change” in February is going to involve giving up plastic is some way(s), but I haven’t yet decided to what extent. I wonder, did you have tupperware or containers or other things that you got rid of? What to do with all the plastic that is no longer wanted? Advice? I’ve shared your efforts with some of my very good girlfriends and it has got us all thinking and talking about what we can do.

    Thanks for the email last week. Much appreciated. Hope this is a wonderful week for you. Take care… ~Nicole

  2. We still have our collection of “tupperware” which is mostly yogurt containers and the like. I expected to keep using them until they were worn out, but find that it just doesn’t feel right anymore. In fact, I recently learned that while that kind of plastic is considered safe for the food it is sold with, it isn’t supposed to be reused. It doesn’t seem right to throw them away, though, and no doubt the day will come when we need something portable and disposable.

    Lately we’ve come to really cherish the plastic we have and won’t be replacing. Bags, bottles, containers, they all get washed and saved, just in case. I posted on alternative storage methods here: https://oldrecipe.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/quality-storage/.

  3. we just started watching this older PBS reality show called Frontier House and it reminds me of what you are doing. these modern people are thrown back into 1883 and confronted with the reality of not having all that convenience. in one episode after living for 5 weeks on the supplies they were given they get an opportunity to go to the general store – a 10 mile hike – set up just for the show. they can also receive some mail from friends and family; one of the women’s mothers sent her a box filled with processed snack foods and she just dumped it in the trash and took back her sack of flour and other staples to the homestead.

  4. This reminds me of something Miguel was saying recently- that the corporate/Big Ag buffs making so many of our daily decisions are capitalism junkies, just as bad as any tecato you see roaming my beloved Chimayo/Rio Arriba County roads searching for their next fix; and that we need to come up with a 12 step program for capitalism. I’m in, I take it you are too!

  5. Hi Kyce,
    I went to the regular grocery store (not the health food store) the other day, and pushed the cart up and down the aisles thinking the same thing. There was hardly anything there that wasn’t processed packaged junk. I couldn’t help but think about how the world would be a better place without these stores and all the stuff inside of them. Tom and I were talking today about how we can sell our produce at the farmers market without the plastic bags. We’ve thought about corn plastic but it’s no good either…..so selling salad without bags this year will be something we strive for. Our culture is so used to the grab and go sale….we used to sell all of our potatoes bulk out of big bushel baskets where people could help themselves…then one week we bagged them into paper sacks and weighed each bag to two pounds. We sold more potatoes that week than ever before….it was the “grab the bag and go” convenience. So weird!
    I enjoy visiting you here….so much goodness! Did you guys build your house? It’s so beautiful!

    1. I’ve been lobbying my CSA to stop pre-bagging everything in compostable plastic bags…it seems to ironic to go out of our way for this wonderful local/OG food, only to bag it in GMO corn. They say, well, it takes so long for everyone to bag their food up, we get too crowded in summer, and I was like, that’s great! More time together, to talk and build community, rather than just grabbing our veggies and splitting before anyone makes eye contact. But of course, we’ve already paid for our food. It would certainly be more challenging to try to sell loose greens to folks that most likely haven’t gotten in the habit of bringing small, re-usable bags to market. Hopefully that trend will shift as farmer’s markets go waste free…largely thanks to the farmers like you who carry their holistic growing methods to commerce.

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