Happy Birthday to us!
We made it – My Zero waste is one year old today! It was on 2nd June 2008 that we first set foot into blogland to celebrate the first day of WRAP’s recycle week.
Back then we were creating over a bin full of rubbish for the landfill each week; now we are generating less than 100gms and we’re all set to having our bin emptied just once this year. Six months into the year and it’s not even half full.
We have 464 posts under our belts, and you’re a talkative lot too, clocking up 6,000 comments on the site! However, a great Birthday party does not involve the people celebrating standing on a stage in the limelight. No, a good party is all about mingling. It’s about getting to know new people, enjoying good conversation and sharing ideas.
So today, instead of me rabbiting on as usual, I want to hear what you have to say! Mr Green and I were talking about our ‘hindsight’ moments over the past year and we’d love to hear yours.
He said that in hindsight, reducing waste is much easier than he ever thought it would be. In addition, many more shopkeepers than he would have anticipated, are open and helpful when it comes to helping us reduce waste. Who would have thought our local butcher would merrily send us on our way with our purchases in our own reusable containers?
For me, I’ve learned a lot about creative reuse and how our society is conditioned to wanting things that look right above all else. We really do judge a book by its cover, and our neighbours and friends by their possessions. And it is this that creates a lot of our waste.
So yes we have a shed that was given to us for firewood, but we have in fact, patched it up and kept it going.
We have a greenhouse that has had a couple of footballs through it and hence has the odd pane missing.
All three of us buy most of our clothes second hand.
I have just one saucepan with the original two handles; and today I cursed them again as I burnt my hand.
We have many ‘rustic’ looking things around our home.
But you know what? I feel good about them; far better than many of the things I have bought new.
Why is this? Because I believe that I am doing the right thing by using things until they are literally unfit for use. It’s creative, we have kept perfectly serviceable items out of the landfill, we all know that within a few weeks of purchasing something we’re onto the next ‘fix’ and I find myself becoming less and less tolerant of creating waste when half the people in the world don’t know where their next meal is coming from and we are destroying ourselves and the environment with our greed.
Several years ago I was privileged to help a friend of ours move house. Our friend is in her eighties and she moved from her large family home. It was the local mill house; a rambling, prestigious property in its heyday. She was born in that house, spent her childhood there, grew up and took care of her Mother and father until they died and finally, laid her sister to rest.
This left my friend on her own in a cold, damp, draughty house with only a robin for company. Mould crept up the walls, rain came through the ceiling into the bedrooms and you could see downstairs when you’re upstairs, through holes in the floorboards.
One would look at the holes in the ceiling, the missing window panes, their own breath as they speak and the orange and black fungus growing up the walls and decry the place unfit to live. We could have had the place condemned years ago and a nice new property found for her, but this was her HOME.
Her life, her history, her memories and her childhood were all wrapped up in the walls of that house. No matter what state the property and furnishing were in, it was a wrench for her to leave.
She left a lifetime of memories in that tumble-down cottage and moved to a modern bungalow (a rabbit hutch as she calls it). She traded her open fires for economy 7 heating, her warped floorboards and scatter rugs for plain green carpet, her missing window panes for double glazing and her mouldy walls for Magnolia paint.
Most of the time was spent finding new homes for all the stuff she had acquired. We called in antiques dealers, house clearance people, put up private ads and took numerous boxes of junk to the landfill.
This had a massive impact on me; even then.
I figured that we spend the majority of our lives buying and acquiring things. One of the things that frustrates me most about my life is the amount of TIME I have to spend taking care of my stuff! And at the end of it all, when we take our last breath, what becomes of everything? Does it have meaning or value to us anymore?
That ‘thing’ that we dreamt about owning and finally possessed, does it have an impact as we travel off to meet our Maker? I doubt it.
It’s my guess that we are left with our memories and hopefully a heart full of love. I don’t think for one moment our new shed, perfect greenhouse, Jimmy Choo shoes or matching dining room suite comes into the equation.
Oh dear! I said I wasn’t going to take centre stage at our party and look what I’ve just done! So, without further ado, please raise your glasses to a successful rubbishy year, share your ‘hindsight’ moments or tell us what has been your most valuable learning over the past 12 months in your own life. Or if you’ve got nothing to say, you can just tell us how fabulous we are; we don’t mind.
Seriously, we thank each and every one of you for supporting the site over the past year and making it what it is. It’s been a total blast; we’ve enjoyed every most moments of it and we look forward to another year of planet friendly fun with you.