The end of 2011 smacked me in the face with change. Massive, unexpected upheaval, which left my displaced sense of self reeling in unrecognisable fragments. In time a new form will emerge out of the healing process. I don’t know what shape it will take, but I do wish to direct it in a positive, self-improving direction.
Another way of regarding upheaval is to view it as an opportunity for personal development. I now know that I want to come away from this experience as a more tolerant and forgiving person in all aspects of my life. I’m not quite sure what this means in terms of my waste fixation, though I want to explore it, and discover where it takes me if/when I consider the perspectives of others.
Consider this example:
I tried to facilitate my former housemates to recycle. I set up bags for them to put their recycling in, I told them what household items can be recycled , and I told them I would physically take down any recycling they put in the bags. They choose to keep chucking everything in the over-stuffed kitchen bin. My interalised response was to curse them and blame their ignorance. My next move was to establish my own recycling station, in my bathroom. After reaching out, I withdrew and washed my hands of any responsibility. Looking at their pointless waste continued to disgust me and make me silently fume for over a year but I felt as if I were only hitting a brick wall with them, and that they were unworthy of any additional effort on my behalf.
Yet had I considered their point of view and practised tolerance, could there have been a beneficial outcome for all parties? Might it have been a happier *home*. Imagining their perspective: what difference does a little recycling make anyway? At work, as chefs, my housemates don’t recycle. Everything goes straight to landfill. In the end, was their ‘not recycling’ worth getting me getting so stressed about?
Let’s consider the potential outcome of practising tolerance in that situation. I would have told them all about the recycling bags on more than one occasion. I would have led by example but I also would have persisted. I would have been forgiving of their recycling mistakes. Instead of withdrawing in a huff to establish my own personal recycling station, I could have encouraged them to put even just their newspapers and cereal boxes in the recycling bags. The outcome may have been a bin that wasn’t so full and stinking all the time, less internalised garbage rage, and a bathroom free of recycling junk.
I’m aware I’ve never been a tolerant or forgiving person, but it is only as a result of much soul searching that I’ve become aware of my negative propensity to be judgemental and highly critical of others in pretty much every area of my life. In terms of waste, I just don’t get the wasteful ways of other people, and I too frequently flip out over it. Especially considering that my own outlook is in the minority, it’s probably a waste of energy to get worked up about the actions (or more rightly, inactions) of others.
Here’s to a tolerant and forgiving 2012.
Thoughts of our beautiful world and its spectacular yet threatened variety of creatures motivate me to live better and with less. As I now reflect, there is no material possession that could give me more pleasure than the experience of sighting a blue footed booby, my favourite creature. Plus, there is nothing to be seen in any museum or gallery, more fascinating to me, than this cute, queer bird.
Now, as I have mixed feelings about eco tourism - imagine the devastation if we all wished to see a blue footed booby once in a lifetime! - I very much doubt that I’ll ever catch a glimpse of one in the flesh. But I am fine with that, I’ve got YouTube and an imagination.
By some stroke of fortune, despite having no fear of humans (and you do remember what happened to the dodo, don’t you?), blue footed boobies are not yet extinct and to this day inhabit The Galapogos.
They have blue feet, of a cyan hue that’s a rarity in nature. They also have cartoonish-looking beaks. And if the photographer captures them at the right angle, they look quizzically comical.
But their cuteness doesn’t end there. Mating birds perform an elaborate courtship dance, which the male booby initiates by passing the female a twig or stone. He will then proceed to charm her by hopping from webbed-foot to webbed-foot, for hours at a time. The discerning lady is only interested in one thing - the blueness of her booby suitor’s feet.
As much as my favourite creature is spectacular, memorable, and captures the imagination, there are countless other fellow inhabitants of this earth which by arbitrary accident of evolution, do not and cannot charm my fickle human eye. They are the invisible species, the multitude of creatures for whom there is no eco tourism package holiday. The ones that are easily forgotten, with conveniently plunderable habitats. The creatures that will never front fundraising campaigns for endangered species.
And for those creatures I also choose to waste less. Just in the hope that it makes a little difference in the end.
What’s your favourite creature?
Dear fellow waste fanatics / enironmentally conscionable folk,
Thank you for following my meanderings here at waste AM. It means a lot to me that you take time out of your day to read my posts. It gives me immense satisfaction to share my thoughts with you, and to learn from you in return. You also give me hope. I feel better just knowing that I’m not the only one who cares about the wasteful, greedy, and careless consumption of resources that’s going on all around us.
I’m heartened, knowing that I’m not the only one who thinks the greed that’s driving the world and its people to take more and more is insane. And even if we are powerless to bring about meaningful, planet-conserving change, we are responsible as individuals, and do what we can to make less harmful, informed choices in our own lives.
Christmas is a time for family. But it is also a time of high expectations, debt, and pressure to spend one’s way to happiness. How many unwanted presents will we give and receive this year, out of a sense of duty? How much food will go to waste? And how many people will have indebted themselves, for children’s toys they can’t afford, and which the children will soon forget?
So my Christmas message is to take the good from Christmas (the time spent with loved ones) but to cut out all the crap – the pressure, the spending, the waste. Embrace the idea of an austerity Christmas – a cheapo Christmas, if you like. A very much stripped back Christmas. One where you eat well, but also sensibly, and use up your leftovers. Where there are presents, but they are modest, good quality, and preferably useful. Were the pressure to buy is simply ignored.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and hope you each get everything your heart desires (if it be useful and of sound quality and preferably not plastic). Once again, thank you for reading, and I hope you join me in 2012 for more of the same here at waste AM.