As I was washing dishes last night I scowled at the pile of Ziplocs in the sink I had collected for washing. We reuse our Ziploc bags around here, not because it's fun and easy to do, but because it seems absolutely ludicrous to throw them away after one usage.
I have an argument in my head almost every time I wash them. My lazy, self-serving self says, "Don't bother washing those darn things! Just throw them away and buy some more tomorrow.... It will be that easy! They're not that expensive! C'mon Sally-you've got better things to do than wash food residue out of Ziploc baggies!"
Then my more conscious, self-aware, and globally responsible self pipes in, "Just wash it! It's not that hard! Your Mother Earth, your family, your very ethical being is depending on you to do your part here. Wash the baggie and be done with it!"
So I wash the dern baggie.
Then I think about my 98 year old Grandma Lois. She reused everything and nothing was wasted. As a general rule she lived for function not fashion, and her house was filled with boxes and boxes of reusable, recyclable materials that she used for projects, and crafts. She didn't grow up in this pop-the-top, throw away, disposable plastic generation, and I wonder how she would feel about it now. We have these great evil empires that produce mass amounts of cheap products, which we suddenly find so disposable. It's so easy for us nowadays to buy something like a plastic cup, have it break in a month or so, then say in our heads, "Oh well it was just a buck, I can go get another one."
But what about what's really happening? More natural resources are being used, more energy consumed, more toxins created, more money is spent, more space is filled, with useless junk that could've been avoided.
One of my biggest pet-peeves right now is this "Go Green" pooplah being thrown around. Yes, it is better to use paperless billing methods, recycle your cans and bottles, and be energy conscious, but does that mean we have to create "go green" plastic products, t-shirts, water bottles, and buttons to do it? Producing more to consume less doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I really think the main focus should be re-use.
If big marketing companies want us to "Go Green" maybe they should supply information on how to reuse "disposable" Tupperware, old-t-shirts, cardboard containers, plastic toys, and the likes. Not keep mindlessly selling them to us.
I think that learning to reuse takes a huge shift in paradigm. I would start simply by saving recyclable materials. My friend at Still Parenting says she keeps a stash of reject materials she might use, in a box in her house. Her lovely home is filled with beautiful, reused crafts, and functional home decor, from seemingly useless materials she's saved. I really admire her resourcefulness, as well as her beautiful home.
Secondly, the next time you want to buy something, think about how you could make it first, or re-create it using what you already have.
This past week our 3 year old begged us for this plastic fishing toy that seemed harmless enough. Yet when Micah and I got thinking we figured it would either get ignored, or break, in less than a week, and we could make one like it at home. So we did. And it wasn't that hard. And it was more gratifying to cut, paint, and glue with my 3 year old, than bring home a cheap, plastic toy.
Lastly, go green! What does this mean to you? To me it means buying second-hand, reusing what we already have, and making beautiful things from scratch. And most importantly, not buying a cheap plastic product that says "Go Green"! Oh, and washing those Ziploc baggies with a smile on my face. :)
Cardboard fish made from reused cardboard box, toll paints, and paper clips.
Fishing! An apple tree stick, magnets, and string.
My closet reminded me of Grandma. Everything in her house was in a cardboard box, labeled with permanent marker. Everything. Even her socks.