If you type in “Green” to Google, you will see a long list of “How To’s”: How to use less water, how to recycle, how to cut down on electricity. Although I embrace the “whatever works” mentality, I find it a bit counterproductive that almost all the “How To’s” suggest new purchases—buy energy efficient washer/dryers, buy new light bulbs, buy new kitchen appliances. We are still producing as we are trying to de-produce. And while in the long run these new machines and appliances will cut a household’s use of energy, it does not change our way of living. We will still do four loads of laundry per week and leave the lights on when we aren’t in the room. We will still load the dishwasher instead of wash by hand. Buying, it seems to me, should be a second choice.
To make any change in my life, I need goals. To work out, I need a goal of a race. To become a better cook, I need a goal to conquer techniques. So, why not create a goal that will change my “Greenness”? Jeremy and I are pretty good, but not great, when it comes to living Green. We compost, recycle, and garden, but we have both noticed that our garbage can fills with unnecessary items—paper towels and unrecyclable plastics. We have decided, then, that reducing our amount of garbage will be our main goal—we will refuse the refuse!
Our challenge begins with using one garbage bag for the month of November. During this month, we will make a list of all that we throw away to see how next month we can reduce that waste. After November, we will use one garbage bag for the following two months of December and January. From then on, we will add one month until we only use one garbage bag per year. Eek!
My thought is that this challenge will not only decrease the amount we contribute to landfills each year, but it will also impact our daily lives. We will have to think about how we grocery shop, how we clean, how we eat, and how we cook. Our “How To’s”, in other words, will not include spending money (which we don’t have anyway), but rather how to change some daily activities.