Throughout my 68 years of life, I have had some moments when I am more aware, and a better steward of what this Earth provides for me. I have not always been very successful, but I genuinely strive to do better, waste less, and be more sensible and responsible.
I remember the days when I started my own brand of kitchen composting by blending kitchen scraps to pour around my plants to decompose quickly. It was the only large garden I have ever had in my lifetime. It was the summer of 1988 in the Chicago area. One of the biggest successes was my beefsteak tomatoes that weighed in at nearly 2 pounds! (2.2 lb=1kg)
Back in those days, many people thought my behavior was rather weird. In fact, that Christmas, I received a t-shirt that stated, "COMPOSTING...Because a rind is a terrible thing to waste."
When I moved from Guam to Washington state in 1992 (at the end of a military career), I started two 30-gallon plastic trash bins for composting kitchen scraps and yard waste, and quickly learned that by adding worms, it produced a better quality compost.
Those two bins were maintained for over 30 years, until a recent move required the composting project to come to an end. I do continue to save my kitchen scraps for a friend, who has just started a worm compost bin.
When I was a young woman in the mid-1970s, recycling started to become popular with those of us who would clean up aluminum cans from the sides of the streets. I was in a group of concerned citizens which got together regularly for the clean-up. Then we would take those aluminum cans down to the recycling centers, getting paid as much as $0.25 per pound.
Back in those days, everyone was drinking beer or soda pop from cans. We would also go to the parks and sort through trash, or ask others to collect their cans for us. We would come to pick them up, rinse them all out, and smash the cans, making them less bulky in the trash bags we used. They could get so heavy that it would take two of us to pick up the filled bags!
Today, I do not keep my aluminum cans, or anything else to trade in for recylcoing money, as I don't buy those products anymore. However, I do know that the average price across the country is about $0.59 per pound. Some states pay next to nothing, such as Delaware paying under $0.10 per pound; California has been noted as paying in excess of $1.50 per pound, at times.
I still try to recycle most anything that is recyclable in my area. I have even been known to hold on to certain bins and bags so that I can take them to another area, which offers better recycling programs than what I have in the area where I live. Even if I have to pay for the centers to take it, I think that it is worth the expense to make that effort for this planet.
Reducing and Reusing
On way that I try to be kinder to this earth is by reducing and reusing items so that I do not produce as much trash.
When I had a very successful Tupperware business in the 1990s, I did buy more plastics for storage. I went to the bulk sections of grocery stores, wherever possible. It was becoming more popular to do so, and save packaging. If bulk buying was not available to me, I would try to buy the largest packages possible.
Looking back, I now recognize how problematic some plastics have now become, though the company was always on the cutting edge of trying to make this world a better place with the technology to improve plastics, and using recycled materials in some of their products. They also became involved in other projects across the globe.
Today, I do the same with bulk buying, using glass jars, though I do not keep as much in bulk storage as I once did. I have passed along my whole Tupperware storage system to young families, and family who needed a few pieces here and there.
Using less paper
As a young girl, I remember when it was my job to iron my father's handkerchiefs. His mother always had a neatly folded ladies' hankie tucked into the wristband of her watch, or discreetly over the belt of her cotton shirt dress. I have vague memories of using those printed cotton hankies, some of which had been embroidered or hand-tatted around the edge by my grandmother.
I don't remember using cloth napkins at home or anywhere else, except at fancy restaurants. By the 1960s, we were firmly rooted in being a much more convenience-based society.
When I was in my early twenties, I would buy cloth napkins at garage sales and thrift stores. Other people had discarded them as a thing of he past. I had a nice stack of mismatched color that was reminiscent of the years when cloth napkins were not an oddity. Again, people though I was an odd bird, not purchasing paper towels and napkins very often.
I was often referred to as a "hippie." I never did quite understand how being less wasteful turned me into someone less desirable in those days. After all, I was in a military uniform in the 1970s and 80s.
It was not until recently in the last decade that I started buying paper towels from time-to-time. As well, I have purchased a couple of packages of napkins. I have always felt a little guilt each time I do, though one roll of paper towels will last me somewhere between six months to a year.
The one place that I have not reduced my use of paper is toilet tissue. I know that there are alternative out there, but I have not employed those tactics.
My Letter to Mother Earth
Dear Mother Earth, I vow to you to never buy paper napkins again. I got out of the habit of using cloth napkins, which I did for years. But you let me find a dozen brand new white cotton napkins, still in the package, for only $5.00! (NO! I will not iron them!) I also found four colorful ones at another yard sale, which was given to me for FREE! Thank you, Mama!
It has always made sense to me to do the little things like this that can make a difference, if everyone started adopting some of these same practices. It is not difficult to throw a napkin or two in the rest of the wash one does for the week.
I know that I am only one person, but I do try to make a few little changes here and there in my own life. People no longer seem to think I am weird, when I had them a folded cloth napkin from the cabinet. If they do, they keep those thoughts to themselves!
I was delighted to find the pack of brand new white napkins at the thrift store. I was even more delighted to get the colorful set.
Could there be a hippie in all of us?
As one who always has thought a bit differently from the rest of the world, I am realizing that I might very well be a bit of a "hippie," by some standards. I do tend to recycle, reclaim, and reuse products in some of my more creative ventures, whether cooking, making art, and finding new ways of doing things. Perhaps, it is just having been drawn to some aspects of a mindset (and a world) of years gone by.
I am also reminded it is a way for us to show kindness in many ways. We share with others, as a way to be kind. We accept people in whatever state they might be in, sometimes when they are emotionally thread-bare.
Maybe that is one of the things that I was to learn at this stage of life. Just as we may need to be more intentional to be kind to ourselves and others, we can be just as intentional with our kindness to Mother Earth.
In what ways do you show kindness to Mother Earth?
About the Creator
I share my stories with the hope of helping others to see beyond what they believe is possible, and past the pains of life. Unabashedly me.
Living with Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Cancer.(NETs). Former USAF/USN. Mom to rescue dog, Cooper.