Last week I began to take an honest look at the plastic waste I generate. I have been reading the book, Plastic-Free by Beth Terry (highly recommended), because of my desire to eliminate plastic– something I consider to be a huge environmental hazard. Her book includes an exercise (Plastic Trash Challenge), which is also on her blog, to assess and truly get present with the amount of plastic waste we generate, both recyclable and non-recyclable. Anyone, care to join me?
I have been on my green journey for years and, perhaps, some people would consider me a little hardcore. So, as you can imagine, I was both humbled and surprised to see how much plastic waste I generated this past week– me the super greenie. To be fair, half of the plastic waste I generated was from a gift I received in the mail (those darn plastic packing pillows!) and also snacks that my boyfriend purchased that I couldn’t resist enjoying as well. You will also notice things that don’t look like plastic in the photo, such as cat food cans (all cans that hold food are plastic-lined), brown paper frozen berry bags (also plastic-lined) and my old, cheap, ruined boots (made from synthetic petroleum-based fibers.) Now that I have justified my waste to feel less guilty, let’s get to the juicy stuff.
In the book, Beth invites her readers to truly get present with their trash. Taking sage wisdom from her meditation teacher, she suggests that we feel our feelings as we look at the pile of waste that we have created. Like any river, emotions (e-motion) need to flow so we can stay unblocked and clear. With this clarity we can make wiser choices.
Yesterday, before I meditatively sat with my trash, I initially felt overwhelmed and filled with a flurry of anxious questions– did this mysterious wrapper for my butter have plastic in it? What about this cap to my wine bottle? It didn’t seem quite like metal nor plastic- but some strange combination. Could I recycle, at the grocery store recycling bag drop-off, the plastic packaging for my veggie burgers and the small plastic baggies that I had accumulated from snack items? Was I ready to stop buying plastic-packaged foods and start making things, like bread, from scratch, even though I don’t really like cooking or baking? The last question really overwhelmed me. I imagined hours of my life disappearing to extended kitchen duty as I made several staple items from scratch. Ugh. I even feel overwhelmed just writing about it.
Today, however, I meditatively sat before the plastic waste I generated in a week’s time. I was actually surprised at what arose. Instead of the overwhelm bubbling to the surface again, a calm clarity came over me. It actually felt good to witness my waste. The plastic waste I generated was no longer a vague idea. Seeing everything before me so clearly, I intuitively felt the next steps I was ready to take. I didn’t worry about what I was not yet ready to deal with. I knew, in time, my plastic-free journey would flourish like a garden, growing out of the abundance and the joy of living in harmony with the Earth, not deprivation, overwhelm and constriction.
In closing, I’d love to hear your feedback on going plastic-free and also the plastic waste we all generate. Have any of you ever taken an honest look at your own trash? If so, I’d love to hear your experience.