|'itty bitty under-the-sink wares'|
Now, I don’t know you, but I get a small thrill in solving problems. It’s a little bit of a curse. Creating “efficiencies”, with family, children, teaching, travel, etc, my brain is constantly running (like when you hear your laptop engine humming even when you are not doing anything).
Getting back to the trash. Sept 2011: the fruit flies are killing me. It’s war. I’m hot, irritated with fruit flies and smelling something mysterious and horrible in the kitchen. If this description so far makes it sound like I live in a sty, I don’t, we are just a family of 4 with a dog and my sensitivity to smell is positively prenatal sometimes. It was driving to the center of my sanity. I bravely put my nose in the trash, nada. I smelled a foot away, the sink, the dishwasher, the walls; it seemed to be everywhere and nowhere.
For days this went on; investigation was a code red. In a moment of sheer panic and overwhelm, I took the whole 13-gallon-plastic-complete-with-rocking-flip-lid bastard outside. Miraculously aromatic peace was restored. I knew with every fiber of my being that I didn’t want that trashcan in my life anymore. I was done. The break-up was final.
Sooo, you might ask what we did when we had to throw something away. Compost is limited and recycling doesn’t cover everything left over at the end of the day. So we played the geriatric lady syndrome of keeping an old plastic bread bag on the counter and shoving our waste into that puppy to the brink of full madness, pushing, stuffing. It became like a video game (there is irony there). The stakes had never been higher (insert irony here).
Then this magical/evil plan was hatched inside my brain. What if we had no trash, what would we do? I started recalculating our trash problem. What if we focused on NOT throwing away things. Food was the biggest issue. Children don’t clean their plates, it goes in the trash, food that we forgot we bought shoved in the back of the fridge, garbage! We have a 2.5 year old and sure we use at least 1 disposable diaper at night and those add up over 7 days -all other times we (predictably) use cloth diapers.
cutting to the chase: some facts (and opinions)
- meal planning changed
- buying changed
- i got a little zany, but in an interesting way
- adam, the other half of the decision making in the house, was not privy to the challenge end: “we don’t have a trash can anymore, ok. (no biggie)”
- sadly, food scraps could not be fed to dog, as she had lots of food allergies
- it was kind of fun
- then the dog got into the trash (a lot) and it was really really gross
- realized we had to get a real trash can
- so we continued to push and push into the smallest possible size.
- in the end we got a small 3 gallon ikea flip open trash can
- another small fact is that our kitchen trash can is the only trash can other than my studio in the house, not even in the bathrooms (much to the dismay of some, especially out-of-town visitors)
|the wee bear was just right|
Luckily the city of Boston has been more on board over the last year with a larger (finally appropriately) size recycling barrel. Our garbage amount pales in comparison to our busting 64 gallon recycling bin. Now we might fill our trash barrel in a month or so. Don’t even get me started on the quandary if the recycling is even being recycled (an investigation for another time).
I don’t mean to stand on any soap box. Trash in the home was something that I never thought about till that moment of ousting the dictating 13-gallon menace. Then I gave a little tweak in the noggin and now it is part of life, not another thought (until it was requested by a certain someone as a story). If only I could apply this sense of logic to exercising. The old adage: when you have a bigger house, you will fill it. It seems that there is never enough kitchen cabinets, if you have 10 or 30. No matter the size of your garage, basement, closets, toy bins, they seem to all get filled to capacity.
So where is the lesson in this? I don’t know, try it if you like, for a week or a day. Without the recycling or compost it would be big- maybe impossible, you might end up on a TLC show about hoarding (sorry). But it might teach you something about yourself, or might make you think about what is ‘trash’ or start you on composting. Over 7+ years of composting in the city, we have learned a few things about not creating a hotel environment for rodents, especially a deluxe spa where they receive shelter from our half pipe neighbored with a bounty of edibles.
Did I make this sound doable? Interesting? I would like to say that it solved all of our problems, made us eat like birds, I lost 10 lbs and my husband’s hair grew back, my two children never fight anymore and our cars became powered by wind. Instead of all that happening, I have less trash, less smell and a greater sense of peace about the battle.