One thing Matt and I are noticing on this trip is that we are now producing a lot more garbage. We used to throw away one small grocery bag-full per week. We used to grow our own food, buy in bulk and make most things from scratch, and this kept the waste to a minimum. Now we toss at least one garbage bag every day. We are probably producing about 10 times the amount of waste we did at the Williams Street Farmhouse.
A large portion of our garbage is now organic waste. We used to compost everything that was once alive, but there have only been a couple times on this trip where we could find composting or organic waste refuse. What a shame! Every time I throw away a banana peel or toss away vegetable ends, I think about the garden I could grow with them instead. Wouldn’t it be great if municipal composting operations were widespread? It makes so much more sense than clogging up our landfills.
Then there is the plastic waste. Graysen and Rylan can plow through a half-gallon of milk and a quart of yogurt every two days. We also love to eat sour cream, cottage cheese, and occasionally hummus. We used to get our goat milk from Cottonwood Creek Farm every week in glass mason jars and from that I would make yogurt and cheese. What I did have to buy I was able to save and repurpose the plastic containers, but I just don’t have the space in the rpod. It pains me to toss those tubs in the garbage after just one use.
Now that we are in Mexico, the trash is so much more in your face. The side of the highway is littered with trash. Plastic bags flap like flags from cactus. Broken glass shimmers in the sun. People’s homes are surrounded by trash. It’s hard for us to understand how this can happen. Perhaps people don’t care, perhaps they have more important things to worry about, or perhaps they just don’t have any place else to put it.
In the United States we create an enormous amount of garbage, but there are always convenient trashcans to throw it in that get magically emptied and taken away. We don’t have to think about the huge landfills necessary to contain it all.
Confronted by trash everywhere on a daily basis, I try even harder to reduce the amount of garbage that we produce. What will it take for us as a society to implement trash-saving measures?