|Courtesy of Lindsey Whitlock|
Right on, and oh so well said. Thanks Lindsey for your participation!
“Why Ditching the Garbage Bin is Good for Community
On Sundays after church, my mom and I would go grocery shopping. The full aisle of breakfast cereal, the endless freezers of ice cream: to tell you the truth, the whole thing delighted me. The supermarket felt impossibly big. In navigating it, I felt very very savvy. I liked carrying coupons. I liked looking at the magazines at the check-out line, and picking out just the right candy bar. On top of that, we always ran into someone we knew. In that way, the supermarket was kind of homey. It was a small town, and my mother was well-loved. I ate my pack of Rolos on the drive home.
My shopping life now is very different. My two-year old son could probably count on both hands the number of times he has been to a large supermarket. There just isn’t much there for us anymore. We are not a no-waste family, but as time goes on, we have become more and more aware of our responsibility (and too often, I am afraid, culpability) as members of this country and this world. We continue to move farther and farther away from packaged products, especially in the kitchen. And I find that the closer my family comes to being a waste-free household, the more entrenched I feel in my community. It is a strange side-effect, one I hardly expected. And it makes me believe that waste-reduction is a lifestyle change that can heal more than our landfills.
Years ago, it was the case that if I wanted cheese, I would peruse my options and pluck a vaccuum-packed hunk of this or that from a display of other vaccuum-packed hunks of cold cheese. I might even bypass the lines at the traditional check-out to swipe my own purchases and feed my cash into a machine. But to buy cheese without waste is a different experience entirely. Because to buy cheese without the plastic, someone has to cut it for you. They do. And, somehow, that makes all the difference. Now we go to our cheese shop every week. It is a humble Midwestern place, owned and run by good people. We go, and my son presses his nose to the glass display. Someone always slices him a bit of this or that to snack on. They note how big my baby girl is getting. They do that because they know her, they know us. I pick my cheeses and they slice it, and put it in the little tin I use. Then often we talk just a little bit longer before I go. It is so nourishing, so good. It is something I look forward to every week.
Buying no-waste often looks like this: if you want cheese, a person will have to cut it for you, and if you want strawberries, you will have to buy them in June from a person who grew them, and if you want bread, you will need someone to hand you the loaves; they will be good and a little warm. After a while, these people handing you your bread, slicing your cheese, selling baskets of berries will begin to know you. You will begin to know them. They will know your children and watch them grow up with you. In a country fed by food wrapped in plastic, there is something almost unspeakably human about being handed something to eat by another person- even if it is just deli ham in a funny tub you brought to avoid a plastic bag. We need more of that in this country. We do. My hope is that as more of us become aware of our waste and choose to live without so much garbage, that we will find ourselves opened up to these everyday experiences: warm hands, warm days, warm strawberries. And maybe as we get rid of our trash, we will find that we have more room for one another. We need more of that.”
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